Former Journalist Brett O'Bourke Documents South Florida Subcultures on Film
Journalism is a tough gig these days. Publications are losing money, and many are scaling back or even closing altogether. Many of the best and brightest have bailed into fields like public relations, corporate communications, and videography. You can hardly blame them. Everybody's gotta eat.
Courtesy of Brett O'Bourke Brett O'Bourke, Jorge Rubiera, Gaspar Gonzalez
For many, new media is an opportunity to utilize those hard-earned reporting skills in innovative ways. Enter Common Machine, the brainchild of Brett O'Bourke -- a former Miami Herald staffer and reformed journalist who now spends his days crafting videography for corporate clients and filming documentaries on topics from the Miami jai-alai to the influence of Hollywood on Cuban culture. This is what the future looks like.
O'Bourke got his first experience at the Herald's fledgling online department back in the late '90s. "I think that was the first time I got an email address. I was like, what use is this?" he quips.
Soon, he scored a full time feature-writing spot. He bounced around a bit in the field, to Street Weekly, Flavorpill, and 944 -- but quickly realized he wanted to move on. Journalism wasn't exactly the romanticized industry of yore.
"Even then it wasn't great and as we know the whole industry has crashed and burned in spectacular fashion since then," he explained.
"I didn't want to be in the print game anymore. I was probably 30. I was like, you better get to doing whatever it is you want to be doing." And with the help of some fellow creatives, Common Machine was born.
O'Bourke's team includes his best friend and executive producer Gaspar González, who boasts a PhD from Yale in American Studies and was managing editor at Street Weekly; Jorge Rubiera, cinematographer, editor, and Miami-based filmmaker; and Richard Patterson, former Street Weekly staff photographer and the team's first cinematographer. He left Miami to freelance in New York, but is still considered a part of the fam.