PVIFF Co-Founder James “JB” Brown Discusses The Film Industry, Key Influences, And More
Ayanna DeVaughn – Social Media Specialist
This past weekend kicked off the 12th annual Peachtree Village International Film Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. In the following conversation, Jaro’s Rene Mitchell sat down with the festival’s co-founder James “JB” Brown to learn more about the origins of PVIFF, his key inspirations, and what’s next on the horizon for Brown. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and brevity.
RENE MITCHELL: Tell us a little bit about who you are and why you’re here.
JB: Well, I’m a film enthusiast, for one. I love film, I love entertainment, I love multimedia. My partner Len Gibson and I started the Peachtree Village International Film Festival about 12 years ago, and we just decided to keep it going. So, we’re here now today celebrating its 12th year, and we’re just looking to see how we can link people together to help them further their dreams.
RENE MITCHELL: How did you get involved in this?
JB: About 13 years ago, Len and I met. He told me he had an idea. I was kind of retiring from the music industry, and I said I’m all ears. He said he had an idea about a film festival, and I said tell me more because the natural regression from the music industry was film. He told me more, I said let’s do it, and we did it.
RENE MITCHELL: Are you working internationally?
JB: Yes. Right now, we’re looking at Durban, South Africa, partnering up down there with the Durban International Film Festival. We’re also looking at some things in Abu Dhabi, Dubai. So just taking my time. I’m an eagle; I get bored quickly, so I’ve got to be flying. But you’ve got to keep trying no matter what.
RENE MITCHELL: I understand that you really enjoy helping the community, especially the mental health community.
JB: My family has a mental health agency in Charlotte, North Carolina, called ARJ, LLC. They’ve had it for about nine years now. We do a lot of giving back to the community. We have a school called Jasper’s House with about 45 kids, K-12, and we provide their education. It’s rough when you see some of the challenges of young people, but it helps when somebody is there helping you.
RENE MITCHELL: So who was helping you? Who was your biggest inspiration, motivator, or mentor?
JB: I have a few mentors. My mom was my biggest mentor. My dad passed early, and my mom passed early. She was really strong. Then, people like Russell Simmons. I worked with Def Jam for about nine years on the market promotion side, and I got to learn a lot from Russell Simmons. Money and good things motivate me. So if you do some good stuff in the world, you motivate me. Oprah motivates me, Warren Buffett motivates me. Different people, different things.
RENE MITCHELL: Are you working on some projects now?
JB: No. I’m also excited about what you guys are doing. I like the distribution network. I like being able to say I want to do the screenplay, I want to look at a film, I want to look at a producer, artist, or actor. So having a distribution company gives you that platform to look at multiple pieces of content. So, one project? No. Multiple projects? Yes.
RENE MITCHELL: If you had to say one thing to young people in order to inspire, motivate, and make them feel confident, what would you tell them?
JB: I would tell them to pay attention to their surroundings. You usually become, by default or on purpose, what you’re around. Try to be around positive people, places, and things. Everything else will flow from there.
RENE MITCHELL: Wonderful. So, you’re leaving here. Where do you go next?
JB: I’ll be going back to Charlotte, North Carolina, and work with the kids, check out some technology stuff, and look at what’s going on with Durban, South Africa for 2018, and start working on more yearly events for the Peachtree Village.
RENE MITCHELL: Well, thank you so much for taking the time.
JB: God bless you, Rene. Shout out to Jaro, digital programming at its best. Keep it going.