A D V E R T I S E M E N T
|Memorial to honor student-friendly film
Courtesy of Prudence
|Edgar Brokaw Jr. will be memorialized
this Sunday in Melnitz Hall for his work as a professor
at UCLA. |
DAILY BRUIN SENIOR
Film professor emeritus Edgar
Brokaw Jr. may have retired in 1988, but he could never truly
separate himself from the campus.
The famed professor who
taught Alexander Payne, Francis Ford Coppola and Jim Morrison passed
away at age 85 on December 9, 2002. A memorial service will be held
in Melnitz Sound Stage 2 on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Brokaw was a
famous fixture at the film school for years.
"Ed was so
devoted to the department that he kind of lived here in his office,"
said screenwriting professor Richard Walter, who was a colleague of
Brokaw's for a decade. "He had a residence off campus, but he used
to spend nights in the office and washed up in the public restroom.
Film students work around the clock, and he was always available to
A tall man with a big smile and animated personality,
Brokaw had an enthusiasm which rubbed off on those he knew. Brokaw
believed in student projects, even when the students didn't.
"I think he lived his own career vicariously through other
people's work, because he was able to encourage people to do things
that they didn't think they could do," said Bob Dickson, a
documentary filmmaker who studied with Brokaw starting in 1961.
Before 1961, Brokaw spent the preceding five years running
his own production company, New York Studios, Inc., where he
produced commercials, short musical films and shot cinematography
for films. He returned to UCLA in 1961, bringing his independent
sense of loving filmmaking grunt work. He advocated and enforced the
current mode of UCLA's "project system" film school curriculum,
where students learn by doing.
"Brokaw just wanted to see us
making films and he didn't want to hear any excuses," said Maria
Elena Rodriguez, a former student and currently a writer on the NBC
Rodriguez remembers Brokaw's editing
classes, where students pieced together their own versions of
"Gunsmoke" and "Hawaii Five-O" episodes from the raw dailies. Yet
this was Brokaw's station closer to the end of his UCLA career, as
the department became more and more specialized.
was a student here in 1947 and immediately became a teacher after
graduation in 1952, the theater arts department had just started and
Brokaw was a member of its first class. Then, the film school was
not yet in fashion, and it took until the 1960s for UCLA's film
school to develop its identity as an experimental school for auteur
filmmakers. Throughout all of this, he continued to advocate for the
students, often against what he perceived as ineffective
"For a while, Ed was so suspicious of all the
red tape that he kept a check-out room for equipment, which students
he approved of would be able to use," said Colin Young, a former
Brokaw student who also asked Brokaw to head the film school when
Young was chairman of the theater arts department. "He was
completely out of line and out of order, but I didn't mind, because
some good things were coming out of it."
professor walked from campus to his favorite hangout spots. In his
later years, he didn't use a car – a choice made for his students'
"If you're in a car or stuck at home, then you
won't see people," said Prudence Macgowan Faxon, former Brokaw
student and granddaughter of former UCLA dean Kenneth Macgowan, a
friend of Brokaw. "If you're on campus, you bump into people and you
sit down and talk. That's what the whole academic environment is
meant for, an exchange of ideas where people take time to sit down
and talk and learn new things. He personified that and you don't
find that much anymore."
By Brokaw's retirement in 1988,
digital editing was replacing Brokaw's manual flatbeds and moviolas
– old equipment according to today's standards. In addition, the
theater arts department had transformed into the current specialized
School of Theater, Film, and Television. Yet even after retirement,
Brokaw could never completely leave the school where he saw his
"It was more that people saw Ed in the
later years as he was working in the library or eating something at
North Campus," said Faxon, who is organizing a film production
scholarship in Brokaw's name.
here for a printable version of this
|Email Arts &
Entertainment at ae@|
questions or concerns about this
A D V E
R T I S E M E N T