Nick Broomfield

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Nick Broomfield
Born (1948-01-30) 30 January 1948 (age 67)
London, England
Education Sidcot School, Somerset
Cardiff University
University of Essex
Alma mater National Film and Television School
Occupation Filmmaker

Nicholas "Nick" Broomfield (born 30 January 1948) is an English documentary filmmaker. He is the son of Maurice Broomfield, a photographer.[1]

Broomfield works with a minimal crew, recording sound himself and using one or two camera operators. He is often seen in the finished film, usually holding the sound boom and wearing the Nagra tape recorder.


From 1959 to 1965, Broomfield was educated at Sidcot School,[2] a boarding independent school for boys (now co-educational), near the village of Winscombe in Somerset in south west England, followed by University College Cardiff (which became Cardiff University in 1999), where he studied Law, and the University of Essex, where he studied Political Science. Subsequently, he studied film at the National Film and Television School, in London.[3] Broomfield's early style was conventional cinéma vérité: the juxtaposition of observed scenes, with little use of voice-over or text.

Honorary awards[edit]

Broomfield has been awarded the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Documentary, and has also been given honorary doctorates from University of Essex[4] and Surrey Institute of Art & Design, University College.[5] In addition, he has received the California State Bar Award[citation needed] for his contribution to legal reform and is a founder member of the Morecambe Bay Victims Fund.


It was not until Driving Me Crazy (1988) that Broomfield appeared on-screen for the first time. After several arguments regarding the budget and nature of the film, he decided that he would only make the documentary if he was able to conduct a sort of experiment by filming the process of making the film—the arguments, the failed interviews and the dead-ends.[citation needed]

This shift in film-making style was also heavily influenced by Broomfield's experience in attempting to release his earlier film Lily Tomlin, which chronicled Tomlin's one-woman show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. Tomlin claimed that the film was a spoiler for the actual show and filed suit for $7 million against Broomfield. The documentary was shown on public television but not widely released. Eventually the footage shot by Broomfield was used in the video release of the one-woman show.[citation needed]

It is for this self-reflexive film-making style—a film being about the making of itself as much as about its subject—that Broomfield is best known. His influence on documentary is clear: Michael Moore, Louis Theroux and Morgan Spurlock have all adopted a similar style for their recent box-office hits.[6] Filmmakers who use this style have been referred to as Les Nouvelles Egotistes; others have likened his work to the gonzo reporting of Hunter S. Thompson.[7]

Broomfield's best known work is probably Kurt & Courtney about Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, which was selected for the 1998 Sundance Film Festival only to have its screening canceled by the festival after Love threatened to sue.[8] A previous film, Soldier Girls, that he co-directed with Joan Churchill won first prize at Sundance a few years previously.[9]

Direct Cinema[edit]

In 2006, Broomfield changed his style again into what he calls 'Direct Cinema', using non-actors to play themselves. He completed a drama called Ghosts for Channel 4 inspired by the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster when 23 Chinese immigrant cockle pickers drowned after being cut off by the tides. Ghosts won an award[10] and helped raise nearly half a million pounds to help the victims' families.

Battle for Haditha (2007) worked with ex-Marines and Iraqi refugees, as well as known actors. The film was shot sequentially, enabling the cast to build their characters as the story progressed. It also used real locations, and a very small documentary-style film crew. Although they worked from a detailed script,[11][12] the actors also improvised and added dialogue. The script was based on research with the Marines of Kilo Company who took part on that day, the survivors of the massacre, and the six thousand page NCIS government report.[13] Battle for Haditha won 2 international awards.[14]


Other work[edit]

In 1999, Broomfield made a series of five commercials for Volkswagen. Each of these featured Broomfield with his trademark sound boom "investigating" rumours about the soon-to-be released Volkswagen Passat.


Interview with Nick Broomfield (Director) of Ghosts (UK) dramatic feature film during world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival
  • British Academy Award (BAFTA)
  • Prix Italia
  • The Dupont Columbia Award for Outstanding Journalism
  • The Peabody
  • The Royal Television Society Award
  • First Prize, Sundance Film Festival
  • John Grierson Award
  • Robert Flaherty Award
  • The Hague Peace Prize
  • The Chris Award
  • The Blue Ribbon
  • The California State Bar Award
  • First Prize, Chicago Film Festival
  • First Prize, US Film Festival
  • First Prize, Festival of Mannheim
  • First Prize, Festival di Popoli
  • Special Jury Award, Melbourne Film Festival

Broomfield was also given a BAFTA tribute evening on 8 March 2005.


  1. ^ Jon Levy Obituary: Maurice Broomfield, The Guardian, 13 October 2010
  2. ^ Alumni of Sidcot School Sidcot School, Somerset. Access date: 20 September 2011
  3. ^ Barnett, Laura (2007-09-11). "Portrait of the artist: Nick Broomfield, documentary-maker". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  4. ^ University of Essex :: Honorary Graduates :: Dr Nick Broomfield
  5. ^ Honorary Degrees Awarded to Eminent Creatives 24/06/05 - UCA
  6. ^ Hoggart, Paul (21 February 2006). "Following the leader". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  7. ^ Byrnes, Paul (13 February 2003). "Review: Biggie And Tupac". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  8. ^ "'Kurt and Courtney' now showing despite Love's efforts". CNN. 
  9. ^ Soldier Girls - Cast, Reviews, Summary, and Awards - AllRovi
  10. ^
  11. ^ EXCL: Nick Broomfield's Battle for Haditha -
  12. ^ Battle for Haditha - Interviews - Nick Broomfield discusses Battle for Haditha - Channel 4
  13. ^ 'Haditha Massacre' Dramatized in New Film : NPR
  14. ^ Battle for Haditha (2007) - Awards
  15. ^ Gosling's Travels (Whittingham Hospital), ITN Source, accessed 19 June 2014
  16. ^ a b Broomfield, Nick (1948-), BFI Screenonline, accessed 19 June 2014
  17. ^ a b Nick Broomfield, British Council Film, accessed 26 June 2014
  18. ^ Broomfield, Nick (2009-05-31). "A Time Comes: The story of the Kingsnorth Six". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-20. 


External links[edit]