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Alumni Success

Emmy experience anything but ‘Weird’ for Miami alumnus

An integral part of Inside Hollywood’s alumni network, Jason C. Brown ’99 worked as unit production manager for film on life of ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic

Alumni Success

Emmy experience anything but ‘Weird’ for Miami alumnus

Jason C. Brown ’99 spent the first part of his Saturday evening with Miami University faculty member Andy Rice and his Inside Hollywood students at an alumni mixer.

Rice woke up the next morning to a text message. Inside was a photo of Brown from later that night with two other people.

And an Emmy award.

“He told us he had to leave early to go put on a tux,” said Rice, assistant professor of Media, Journalism, and Film and leader of Miami’s Inside Hollywood program. “I was really happy for him.”

Also in the photo? Eric Appel and Al Yankovic, better known as “Weird Al,” the popular musician known for comedy songs that often parody pop culture.

The Emmy in question was for “Weird: the Al Yankovic Story,” which won for Outstanding Television Movie during the 75th Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Brown served as unit production manager, calling it “easily one of the best films I’ve ever worked on in my life.”

Jason C. Brown, Eric Appel, and Al Yankovic with Emmy award
Miami University graduate Jason C. Brown, left, director Eric Appel, and Al Yankovic display the Emmy award for Most Outstanding Television Movie.

The Emmy experience was surreal, Brown said. He was sitting with the group representing “Weird” when actor Ernie Hudson presented the Outstanding Television Movie nominees.

Brown heard, “And the winner is … ‘Weird,’” before being engulfed in screaming and applause. The next thing he knew, everyone was standing and hugging.

Brown’s evening eventually included the photo of himself, Appel, who directed the film, and Yankovic.

And, of course, the Emmy for “Weird.”

“A project like ‘Weird’ takes a village,” said Brown, noting the film was completed in a brisk 18 days of shooting. “It was a very quick schedule and a true team effort to be able to pull off something like that.”

A Zoology major while at Miami with a minor in Film Studies, Brown happened upon his career “a little bit by accident.” During his final year in Oxford, Brown was reading the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper when he spotted an ad for a production assistant for a horror movie called “Avenging Disco Vampires.”

The movie had an estimated budget of $7,000, which was used to pay for the generator to power the lights for filming on the east side of Cincinnati. That was enough for Brown, though. He now had a passion for the industry and started working on student films in Cincinnati before moving on to paid positions in commercials.

In 2005, Brown moved to California to pursue his dream. He joined the Director’s Guild of America in 2010, and his credits to date have included popular TV series like “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Drunk History,” and “The Mindy Project,” along with film work.

“I would say I have the best job in the world,” Brown said. “Working in film and the television business, I can actually watch magic happen every day. We take words on a page with the resources given as a crew and turn someone’s imagination into a reality.”

Part of Brown’s inspiration can be traced to a guest speaker on Miami’s campus — Jan Wieringa ’75, who was a producer on “Powwow Highway,” a 1989 film screened at the Sundance Film Festival. After hearing Wieringa speak, Brown and some friends connected with her during spring break in Los Angeles, where they were given a tour of the Paramount Pictures lot.

Much like Wieringa, Brown has been generous with his time when it comes to Miami. He is always happy to meet with students in the Inside Hollywood program, which takes an intimate and hands-on look at Hollywood careers for three weeks over January term.

Brown also serves on Miami’s College of Creative Arts Alumni Advisory Board.

“Alumni like Jason really just want to help them,” Rice said. “In terms of students’ professional development, I don’t think there is anything quite like this. We depend on alumni’s time to talk with our students, and we are grateful for alumni who give back in this way.”

Expanding their network is crucial for Miami students, Brown said.

“It’s an invaluable program,” Brown said of Inside Hollywood. “They go on tours to studios. They get to meet people like Conan O’Brien. They get to go on sets like ‘NCIS.’ They get to meet 50-60 Miami alumni who are working professionally in the film and television business who are involved with Miami University and want to see their students succeed.”

Rice pointed to Brown’s own network as an example of what keeps the Miami grad so in demand in the film and television world.

“Jason is a consummate people person,” Rice said. “People keep asking him back to work because he’s good at his job.”