Brett Leonard

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Brett Leonard
Born (1959-05-14) May 14, 1959 (age 60)
OccupationDirector, writer, producer

Brett Leonard (born May 14, 1959) is an American film director, producer and music video director specializing in the science fiction and horror genres. A few of his films such as The Lawnmower Man (1992) and Virtuosity (1995) feature groundbreaking computer animation and visual effects.[1] The Lawnmower Man is considered the first, seminal film to feature "virtual reality" as a cautionary tale becoming the number one commercially successful independent film of 1992, budgeted at just under $6 million and eventually earning over $150 million worldwide.[2]

Virtuosity became the first major film to feature nanotechnology set in a cyberpunk-based future with Brett Leonard casting Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington together, a full 12 years before they would again co-star in American Gangster.[3]


Leonard's work with the IMAX 3D process set him apart from most directors having gained early experience with this cutting-edge presentation medium directing T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous in IMAX 3D. The film became the first number-one hit 3D movie to gross over $100 million worldwide (on IMAX screens alone).[4][5]

He created a sensation when he took his Swarm Cam-Fusion Station onto The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and, with guest Billy Idol, implemented one of the first live web-casts ever from the House of Blues in Los Angeles.

Creative Artists Agency and Intel Corporation hired him to direct a state-of-the-art "interactive show" for CAA/Intel Media Lab to introduce the Hollywood community to the "future of entertainment", digitizing actor Danny DeVito, and using live performance animation to create the interactive animated character "Mr. Head", who guided the audience/participants through the experience.

In the music video genre, Brett directed Peter Gabriel's: "Kiss That Frog", the first all-computer graphic (CGI) music video/motion simulator ride film to tour the world, becoming the wildly popular themed entertainment attraction to win him a 1994 MTV Music Video Award.

In 2009, Brett directed the documentary Hole in the Head: A Life Revealed. This feature-length documentary tells the story of Vertus Hardiman and nine other young children, attending the same elementary school in Lyles Station, Indiana who, in 1927 were severely irradiated during a medical experiment conducted at the local county hospital. The experiment was misrepresented as a newly developed cure for the scalp fungus known as ringworm. In reality the ringworm fungus was merely the lure used to gain access to innocent children whose unsuspecting parents blindly signed permission slips for the treatment. Vertus was five years old and the youngest; after 20 years of friendship with writer/producer Wilbert Smith through their church choir, Vertus tells Wilbert his story, exposing the severe physical complications caused by the experiments. This crime had severe physical complications for Vertus—namely a harshly irradiated and malformed head, with an actual hole in his skull.

In 2012 Brett formed a new concept in musical cinema, called PopFictionLife. Seeing the proliferation of small high-definition screens on smart phones, tablets, and laptops, PopfictionLife "FragFilms" are full-length feature movies with existing artists, that have multiple free "Frags" (fragments) of the movie which are watchable, shareable, and embeddable in social media, blogs, and webpages. Brett's latest film is a PopFictionLife FragFilm called The Other Country – Starring Burlap to Cashmere. The film also stars Samantha Lockwood and America's Next Top Model winner Nicole Fox.

In 2017, he called for a use of the term "virtual experience" instead of "virtual reality".[6]



Year Film Type Role
1988 Killer Klowns from Outer Space Feature film Actor
1989 The Dead Pit Director
1992 The Lawnmower Man
1995 Hideaway
1998 T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous 3D IMAX
1999 Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box
2002 Texas: Documentary with Russell Crowe DVD Producer
2005 Man-Thing DVD/TV movie/Feature film Director
Feed Feature film
2007 Highlander: The Source
2009 Hole in the Head: A Life Revealed Documentary
2012 The Other Country – Starring Burlap to Cashmere Feature film

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist Role
1990 "Step Off" MC Twist Director
1993 "Kiss That Frog" Peter Gabriel
1993 "Shock to the System" Billy Idol
2003 "If U Want Me" Michael Woods feat. Imogen Bailey
2004 "Play" Peter Gabriel


  1. ^ Leonard, Brett, Jeff Fahey, and Pierce Brosnan. The Lawnmower Man. België 1, 1992.
  2. ^ Woodward, Kathleen. "From virtual cyborgs to biological time bombs: Technocriticism and the material body." Culture on the brink: Ideologies of technology (1994): 47-64.
  3. ^ San Juan, Rose Marie, and Geraldine Pratt. "Virtual cities: film and the urban mapping of virtual space." Screen 43, no. 3 (2002): 250-270.
  4. ^ Kirby, David. "The future is now: Diegetic prototypes and the role of popular films in generating real-world technological development." Social Studies of Science (2009).
  5. ^ Kirby, David A. "Creating a Techno-Mythology for a New Age: The Production History of The Lawnmower Man." Science Fiction and Computing: Essays on Interlinked Domains (2011): 214.
  6. ^ Leonard, Brett (April 2, 2017). "F**K VR (kinda) says Lawnmower Man Director". Retrieved November 19, 2017.

External links[edit]