Vale – Mike Browning 25/10/33-6/08/2011

It was with great sadness we recently heard of Mike Browning’s passing on the 6/8/2011. Mike was born in England in 1933 and immigrated to Australia when he was 18. He had already established a connection with the film industry by working as a film re winder and assistant projectionist from the age of 14 back in Hull.

It wasn’t long before he was again involved in projection here in Australia, and when the opportunity arose he joined Fanfare films at GTV 9, Melbourne. Mike became a cameraman and was renowned for making the first portable camera van with “innovative” battery powered lights for the ground breaking “on the streets” Night Watch show, which involved filming on the streets of Melbourne on Saturday night. The show was edited by Mal Bryning, going to air on the following night.

As there was no optical printer in Melbourne, Mike made his own pin registered version of an Oxberry, which he named the Fanberry after Fanfare Films. The first of many incredible inventions / machines, attached with his ‘interesting’ names.

In the late sixties / early seventies, Mike broke into the world of making television commercials, working with the major production houses, including Fred Schepsi’s Film House, Bilcock & Copping, Artransa Films and Senior Films.

Mike soon started his own, very successful production company, Browning Films Melbourne. Here Mike really began to show his true genius. He would look at a concept and come up with the most amazing lateral approaches and creative solutions to the many scripts he was asked to direct. It was at Browning’s that Mal Richards and I had the opportunity to work with Mike, most of the time with the very precise cinematographer Volk Mol behind the lens.

Browning’s then became Studio Corporation Pictures and then Riverside Productions where many crew worked on the most incredible array of interesting and challenging productions with this brilliant man.

Mike & Volk invented a 3D system which Packer bought and shelved. They also built the first video split system in Australia which is how Ernie got his first gig in the industry operating their ‘Videotake’ system, with a through the lens videoslplit on an ARRI 2C, recording to B&W helical scan 1/2″ video tape using sine wave converted dc power.

After commercial making, Mike invented many amazing things, including the multi award winning Expo stands at Brisbane and then Seville in Spain. At his memorial service, the word genius and the word generous were used by so many to describe this truly remarkable man who was still working and inventing at 78 years of age!

Apparently Mike died peacefully at home, which is truly a blessing, as he was not fond of doctors. He was known to say “what do you want to go and see a doctor for? They’ll only find something wrong with you!”

We will miss you Mike Browning, you were one of a kind, thanks for mentoring us both and so many others. You truly were an inspiration.

Malcolm Richards & Ernie Clark ACS