Jock Brandis

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Jock Brandis is an author, film actor, film technician, inventor and humanitarian.

Life and career[edit]

Jock Brandis was born in the Netherlands but moved to Canada as a child. In his early twenties, he joined CUSO, the Canadian version of the Peace Corps, and was placed in "Trenchtown" otherwise known as West Kingston, Jamaica where he taught in the local elementary school. While there he became acquainted with many of the fathers of reggae such as Desmond Dekker and helped organize functions for them at the school.

Afterwards Brandis returned to Canada and got involved with Oxfam in their efforts to aide the cause of Biafran Independence (Biafra was a breakaway republic that formed shortly after Nigeria was no longer a colony of Great Britain). He joined a team of people who would fly food from São Tomé (a Portuguese island off the West Coast of Africa) across a military blockade into Biafra. Once there they would return with starving Biafran children whom they would nurse back to health in São Tomé and display before the world's press in efforts to build support for their cause. The blockade eventually fell and Biafra became incorporated into greater Nigeria. On one of his last days in Biafra, Jock was given a ride by a war correspondent named Kurt Vonnegut. They made an agreement that whoever would first write a book about their ordeal in Biafra could call on the other to write the foreword. The book came to be known as The Ship's Cat, and Vonnegut's publicist wrote an introduction on the book's page. Nigeria's government would later try him in absentia for the crime of "air piracy."

Brandis returned to Toronto and became involved in the local film industry as a gaffer. He is featured on-screen prominently in a number of films that he worked on as a Gaffer. These films include Maximum Overdrive, Scanners, and Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. All of Brandis' on screen appearances end with him dying violently.

In 1979, Brandis and then wife, Suzanna, were the subjects of the documentary film The Salvage Prince which showcased their efforts to restore a historic great lakes tugboat, using resources at hand, and community effort. They lived on the boat for approximately 5 years until the living situation became a safety issue for their toddler son. The boat was sold, yet Brandis remained in touch with the its location until 1994, when it was last seen in a Toronto Harbour drydock. There are rumors that The Salvage Prince was converted into a land-based clubhouse for retired longshoreman somewhere along one of the Great Lakes, but it's highly likely that she was scrapped sometime in the late '90s. Brandis is still in possession of the ship's brass wheel, the binnacle, and the ringing clock, featured in the documentary.

On a job with Dino De Laurentiis he came to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1984, and has lived there ever since. While in Wilmington, Brandis worked on a variety of film projects in many capacities (see below).

On movie sets, Brandis was well known for his "make it up as you go along" ingenuity, and was often called upon to solve problems outside of his department. He owned and operated many production support vehicles, such as generators and equipment trucks, which he built himself. In Wilmington, he was one of the few local film technicians who was still familiar with operating the antiquated Brute Arc movie lights, which were favored by older cinematographers for their crisp light output. His last job as a Brute Arc technician was on the film Domestic Disturbance, shot in Wilmington in 2000.

In 2001, he traveled to Mali to fix a small village's water treatment system. While there he came across a woman who informed him that it would be of great service to her village if he could find an affordable peanut sheller for them. Upon returning to the United States he contacted peanut authority Dr. Tim Williams of UGA who told Brandis of a Bulgarian Peanut Shelling design. Jock adapted the design with help from a friend Wes Perry. Jock went through several iterations of a redesign and one year later he completed the machine which is now called the Universal Nut Sheller. In 2003 Brandis teamed up with a group of returned Peace Corps volunteers from Wilmington, NC to form the Full Belly Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to designing and distributing unique appropriate technologies in developing countries.

In December 2005, Jock Brandis was invited to MIT to demonstrate the inventions as part of a program known as the International Development Initiative, a partnership between MIT's Edgerton Center and their Public Service Center. One of their programs is a two semester class called the D-Lab (Development, Design and Dissemination). As a result of Jock's visit, five teams of D-Lab students disseminated the Universal Nut Sheller to Ghana, Zambia, and the Philippines in late January, 2006. There they compiled reports on the machine's performance as well as its effect on local economies. In June 2006 he partnered with the MyShelter Foundation to bring the peanut sheller to farmers in the Philippines. They have developed other simple "appropriate technologies" for use in irrigation.

In 2008, Brandis was the winner of the Purpose Prize, which showcases the value of experience and disproves notions that innovation is the sole province of the young.

Jock is the father of Darwin and Maaike, and the former husband to the late Suzanna Taylor Brandis, the mother of his children. He presently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina.



Special effects

External links[edit]