Brodie Poole Turns the Camera on Himself

The importance of digital-only documentaries is evolving as the importance of video content for online communication continues to grow. Brodie Poole has created a heartfelt human documentary and has proven with its success that there is a growing audience in this space.


A still of Poole from his documentary The Flight of the Buffalo

A still of Poole from his documentary The Flight of the Buffalo

Poole is an award-winning emerging documentary maker. In his first year out of a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television, he is already on the film festival circuit with a short documentary, building a network and making exciting plans for the future.

With growing access to technology it is becoming easier to make media content, and there does seem to be an increasing number of self-reflective videos available online. More frequently we see across a number of platforms that video content is replacing image content.

These video biographies merge into the realm of documentary, which is where Poole currently exists.  Poole’s short documentary titled The Flight of the Buffalo was his third year graduating piece during his BFA in film and television at QUT.

This 12-minute picture has been touring the Australian film circuit since the beginning of 2015, even being included in the main program of the prestigious Sydney Film Festival (pictured below). It’s clear that Poole as the director and his friend Nicholas Flynn as the producer are enjoying the ride.

Poole and Flynn at Sydney Film Festival introducing The Flight of the Buffalo

Poole and Flynn at Sydney Film Festival introducing The Flight of the Buffalo

The Flight of the Buffalo

The Flight of the Buffalo is a personal film reflecting on Poole’s struggles growing up in a military family in light of his father’s recent departure for a tour of duty with the Australian Chinook squadron.

Throughout this project Poole is turning the camera on himself and on his own family, exploring how his father’s duty as a helicopter pilot in the ‘Buffalo’ regiment has affected family dynamics and relationships. It is a powerful and moving short film, that is beautifully shot and rich in content.

By cutting real home footage from old VHS tapes Poole is instantly setting a nostalgic scene. “I found a great one when my mum was on Hey Hey it’s Saturday, [which] I used through the documentary as a way to frame it,” he explains to No Walls.

This footage from the 90s shows Poole’s mum winning a car on the television program, and then, unbeknown to her, the live feed switches over to her husband in East Timor. Similarly, Poole uses the archival footage of “a tape made in Iraq [of] all the [Buffalo] pilots speaking to their family,” including his own dad speaking to him.

The film has been well received by the industry community as Poole and Flynn are travelling to a number of film festivals, such as Sydney film festival and Adelaide film festival, with plans to build networks.

It was at the Byron Bay International Film Festival in 2015 where Poole was awarded Young Australian Filmmaker of the Year. He laughed as he said that industry people he is meeting at the film festivals are saying, “I love how bad it looks,” after seeing The Flight of the Buffalo.

The moments where Poole turns the camera on himself and on his mother make this piece of documentary raw and heartfelt. I couldn’t help but think it must have been difficult to make and even more difficult to share.

“I’m sort of glad I made it because it gave me a way to have these conversations with my parents. It was something I wanted to talk about but it’s hard to bring up,” Poole says.

He followed this quickly with, “but I want to keep myself out of my documentaries from now on”.

A still from Poole’s documentary The Flight of the Buffalo

A still from Poole’s documentary The Flight of the Buffalo

The future of documentary

Poole’s interests lie in emotionally charged human stories – “I want to do something in a similar vain to the whole humans of New York style thing but with video content”, he says.

He explains, “you go through Facebook and videos play automatically, it’s always progressing so [in the future] you will just have video content replacing photos”.

He also comments on how documentary is adapting. While “there’s such a stigma around the word, [as in] you hear ‘documentary’ and you think you’re just going to be thrown facts…it’s developing into a cinema format [where] telling stories that aren’t as factual are starting to uncover how people feel about things, and that’s what is drawing an audience”.

Poole believes that in Australia there is a gap in cinematic documentary because “everything is [still] being shot like reality TV.” This idea of how a documentary maker develops their narrative, become storytellers and have creative license happens, according to Brodie, in the edit lab.

“The thing about documentary is you shoot so much more footage then you do for narrative…actually developing the story happens in the edit labs… before you get in there you have no idea what you’re doing,” he says.

Poole is inspired by other young Australian film makers, such as Daley Pearson, who directs the ABC2 show 7Days Later. This is a TV show that is made in seven days by the community.

The social media audience chooses the kind of episode to be made and then Pearson has seven days to make it. It’s this concept of keeping a “Facebook audience interactive to [the] series” that interests Poole and may in turn inspire some of his future works.

It is the real world experiences of featuring The Flight of the Buffalo at Australian Film Festivals where Poole is gaining the momentum of his film career. He realises that to ‘make it’ as a successful documentary maker “you have to do everything on your own…you have to develop your audience and then once influential people notice, that’s when you start pitching”.

With The Flight of the Buffalo he’s certainly off to a great start.