Veterans in Creative Careers: Jennifer Brofer, Producer (USMC)

Jennifer BroferJennifer Brofer, a native of Arlington, Texas, entered the Marine Corps’ Delayed Entry Program Sept. 15, 2001. Upon graduation from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., she attended journalism school at the Defense Information School (DINFOS) at Fort Meade, Md. Upon graduation from DINFOS, Brofer was assigned as a reporter and editor for The Boot, the base newspaper for MCRD Parris Island.

Brofer’s second assignment was to MarinesTV in Washington, D.C., where she produced news packages and served as on-air talent for Marines Headlines, a weekly television news show that aired internationally on the Pentagon Channel. During her first year as a broadcaster, she was named the Marine Corps’ Outstanding New Broadcaster.

In 2009, she graduated from Syracuse University’s year-long Military Motion Media Program and received orders to 1st Marine Logistics Group, Camp Pendleton, Calif. In March 2010, she deployed for a year to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province as the 1st MLG (Forward) Public Affairs Chief, coordinating news coverage of the unit’s forward deployed Marines and sailors.

In January 2012, Brofer was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps after 10 years of service. She went on to attend film school at The University of Texas at Austin. In February 2013, Brofer was selected as one of six winners in the Oscar Experience College Search, a contest in which film students are given the opportunity to present Oscar statuettes at the Academy Awards. In her winning video entry, Brofer promised to bring the core values of honor, courage and commitment to her filmmaking career.

As a college student, Brofer completed internships with the Mark Gordon Company, Bunim-Murray Productions and Vicky Boone Casting. In May 2014, Brofer graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television-Film from UT Austin, following in her father’s footsteps as a Longhorn.

Brofer currently lives in Los Angeles and is pursuing a career as a film producer.

Justin Sloan: Among my interviews I have yet to talk to someone whose military work seems so related to their creative career. For those of my readers who have not read your Veterans in Film and Television Profile, please tell us a bit about your time in the military. What did you do and how did that prepare you for the outside world?

Jennifer Brofer: I served as a Marine Corps combat correspondent from 2002-2012. I started out as a print journalist and photographer for the base newspaper, The Boot, at Parris Island, SC. In 2006, I transitioned into the TV news sector as a news anchor for MarinesTV. My love for filmmaking grew during this time as I had the opportunity to work on several documentary projects and public service announcements. Unlike civilian news organizations, we didn’t have separate producers, photographers and editors working on a single news story, so I had to write, shoot and edit my own material. Learning this “one man band” style of video production gave me the tools I needed to pursue a career as a film producer, and it really comes in handy when you’re working on low-budget independent films.

JS: When you left the Marines you went to film school at the University of Texas, Austin, which I hear has an amazing program (I am a big fan of the Austin Film Festival, and the city). Was there any debate about attending the program versus going straight on to work after the military?

JB: There was no question in my mind that I wanted to complete my film degree upon my honorable discharge from the Marines. I had begun my bachelor’s degree in 2001, shortly before I entered the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program. Throughout my time in the Marines, I earned several credit hours by attending night classes, but I was still about two years’ shy of my bachelors. I decided the University of Texas at Austin was the right school for me because it has an excellent film program as well as a Semester in Los Angeles Program, in which film students have the opportunity to take classes as well as intern in Los Angeles. I attended UTLA during my last semester at UT, and I was offered a job at one of my internships upon graduation. The UTLA Program helped me transition into the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, where I am currently working as a freelance producer and full-time assistant at Creative Artists Agency. Ultimately, it took 13 years to earn my bachelor’s degree!

JS: It sounds like it worked out for you. For those other men and women considering leaving the military or recently separated, what would you advise if they are considering film school? Would you change anything about how you did it?

JB: I would advise anyone considering leaving the military to do their research and really prepare for their transition. My transition was very smooth because I did my research at least two years before I was discharged and knew exactly where I wanted to complete my bachelor’s degree. You should understand your GI Bill benefits and find out if your state offers free tuition for veterans. I was able to take advantage of the Hazlewood Exemption because I am a veteran from Texas. This was great because I was able to go to school for free and collect GI Bill benefits, which allowed me to focus on my studies and not “where is the rent money coming from?” I would recommend veterans find out if the university they are interested in attending has a Student Veterans Center. The UT Austin SVC was extremely helpful in helping me navigate the bureaucracy and understand my benefits.

JS: I also understand you were selected for the Oscar Experience College Search. That must have been amazing. Can you share some more information about that experience? Did it fan any new flames of passion for you, or was that fire already burning as strong as it could?

JB: The Oscar Experience College Search was one of the greatest experiences of my life and truly invigorated my love of film. I was very fortunate to be selected as one of six film students to travel to Los Angeles and serve as a Trophy Presenter for the 85th Annual Academy Awards. It was a surreal experience because we were able to meet so many talented filmmakers in the industry, some of whom gave us great advice on how to be successful in Hollywood. One of the highlights for me was standing on the Oscars stage next to Meryl Streep as Daniel Day Lewis accepted his Oscar for Best Actor. The whole experience reminded me that anything is possible as long as you follow your dreams and never give up.

JS: I can only imagine. I see you are a producer, but you have also acted and written, and I am sure played many other roles. Is this all part of some plan? What are your thoughts on a career plan in Hollywood, and how should an aspiring filmmaker prepare themselves?

JB: I love all aspects of filmmaking. I did a lot of theater in high school, so occasionally I perform on camera. But my true passion is producing. I love making creative decisions and working behind the scenes to bring a story to life.

JS: And now for the reason we connected in the first place—the Writers Guild Foundation’s (WGF) Veterans Writing Retreat. I have gone on and on in my blogs and whatnot about how much I love the program, but let’s hear it from you. What was your experience like?

JB: My experience with the Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Retreat was great. I met so many talented mentors, as well as other veterans, some of whom I’m still connected to today. At the time, I was working on a screenplay of my own, loosely based on my experiences in Afghanistan. It was very therapeutic to write it all down, and working with the writing mentors gave me the tools I needed to improve my story.

JS: Is the WGF program for everyone?

JB: I would recommend the WGA Veterans Writing Retreat to any veteran with an interest in writing a screenplay, novel or play. Being surrounded by writers is a great way to generate new ideas and help you think outside the box.

JS: You are also a member of the Veterans in Film and Television. Have you seen this network help you and others in your career? Do you see much assistance overall from veterans?

JB: Words cannot express how beneficial Veterans in Film and Television (VFT) has been to me. The veteran network has been essential in helping further my career in the entertainment industry. The veterans I met through VFT helped immensely in helping me land my current job at Creative Artists Agency. Additionally, I’ve worked with many VFT members on projects I’ve produced. Working with veterans is great because I know I can count on them.

JS: Thank you again, Jennifer. Before we sign off, do you have any last bits of advice for those men and women of the armed services who aspire to make films or work in other creative endeavors?

JB: Dream big, and never give up.

 

 

These interviews will appear in an upcoming book on military members and veterans in the world of entertainment. As you wait, please read my book Creative Writing Career, on Amazon.

To follow Justin Sloan: http://eepurl.com/bbpNjv

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