Josh Braun Talks Making Better Documentaries with State College of Florida Students

The difference between a mediocre documentary and a great one can often depend on the discipline to cut beloved footage out. “That’s why the most unsung hero is usually the editor,” said Josh Braun, co-president of Submarine Entertainment. “Just be brutal about what is necessary.”

The bit of advice was shared by Braun with film students at State College of Florida’s Bradenton campus. Braun is in town for the Sarasota Film Festival but spoke Tuesday afternoon with a documentary production class, dispensing knowledge about the documentary field and tips on navigating the changing industry.

Braun’s own resume includes credits for some of the best known documentaries created in the last few years, including Citizenfour20 Feet From Stardom, Blackfish and Food, Inc. The biggest focus of his work day today is on connecting filmmakers with distributors, he said. He also has served as executive producer on such films as Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times and Sunshine Superman, the latter of which screens at the Sarasota Film Festival Wednesday, April 15, at9:30pm  and Friday, April 17, at 9:30pm at the Regal Hollywood 20..

As far as filmmaking tips, he stressed the importance of making clear in documentaries what is happening, to avoid using placeholder music too often when you know you will never be able to afford the rights, and to be careful when structuring finance not to give too much control over a film’s distribution to people who may only be looking for a fast return on investment.

Many of the films in his portfolio have been programmed at the Sarasota festival through the years, and Braun himself will soon be able to call the community home. He revealed to students he was purchasing a house in the Sarasota area.

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