In Bryce’s own words, a short autobiography from his book, “Nonlinear Editing: Storytelling, Aesthetics, & Craft” (2002).
“Everybody's life is rich and textured in ways unique to their experience of the world and the frames of reference from which they draw. I've been extraordinarily spoiled in my life to have met and known both places and people in contexts quite plain and, on occasion, extraordinary. I always find it a little helpful to know a little about the filmmakers and writers whom I admire to better understand the filters through which their experiences are being shared.
A little autobiographical information here at the outset might be useful to you when contemplating my strange turns of phrase or the philosophical underpinnings of certain comments. It is impossible to write anything honestly without recognizing that we do not live or create in a void. Every choice and every sensibility is informed by our past and the dreams for our future. However, if you are in great need to progress quickly to an area of interest, disregard this section and flip straight to the chapter of relevance. There certainly is no one correct way in which to use this book!
I began life in Nairobi, Kenya, the year after Kenyan independence. It was an exciting and occasionally scary time for well-educated African Europeans. Africa itself was blossoming into independence with all the difficulties that entails, and the Western world was caught in the all-too-real games of the Cold War. My parents would eventually live through three revolutions: Tanzania, Kenya, and finally South Africa. The last was the direct cause for my leaving Africa 21 years later. We were fifth generation Africans and still consider ourselves as such, but to ignore the history of European involvement in Africa with both its positives and negatives is impossible. My uncle once removed, Bryce Courtney, conveyed this difficulty relatively well in his book “The Power of One,” from which the film starring Morgan Freeman evolved.
Returning to Great Britain for a couple of years at age five before my mother's parent's developing illnesses saw us move to South Africa, I entered a culture to which my ethnicity seemingly offered harbor, although out of the mainstream.
Upon moving to South Africa, I again discovered that the color of one's skin had little to do with shared cultural experience. Over 60% of white South Africans spoke Afrikaans with English as a second language. Consequently, from early in life I understood that the world was a complex and, on occasion, confusing place where surface details rarely held true knowledge and indeed begged to be questioned. My mother's love of language (She spoke German as fluently as English and Afrikaans and even studied Russian at one point) opened a world of access for me to the huge and varied cultural base that surrounded us. My father's work (He'd mapped Lebanon, large parts of Africa, and even Beijing, China) further ingrained in me a thirst for both travel and cultural experience.
As a child I lived a fairly straightforward existence of school, friends, and sports while being somewhat oblivious to the revolutionary milieu around me. In fact, my mother was starting to produce television programs for the fledgling South African Broadcasting Corporation, and I ended up playing both Jesus and the Prodigal Son on TV at the tender age of 12, the latter role probably closer to my true personality! The bug had been planted.
It was, however, during my high school years at a government boarding school that it began to dawn upon me that the "natural order" was somewhat confused.
On entering college, I took up film and drama as my major with economics and history as sub majors. My aunt had moved recently to South Africa and was writing numerous TV series for the SABC, so during vacations I began to work on these as often as I could. My growing political awareness resulted in my joining the End Conscription Campaign, an organization created as a result of the unsavory ties between the military and political establishments. I wrote and took photographs for the ECC on a regular basis. I'd been the school photographer at high school, shooting off 200 black-and-white prints every week for three years, so it seemed an appropriate use for those talents. The ECC was eventually banned in the midst of States of Emergency in the mid-1980s, as the government of the day feebly tried to stamp out any forms of resistance.
At this time my family, through their church, started to harbor young black South Africans on the run from the security police and provided shelter and safety for a string of persecuted citizens.
It was clear, after being harassed (paint stripper thrown on my father's car, inflammatory slogans painted on our walls, being chased around Johannesburg by scary non uniformed security policemen), that military conscription was not on. So just before graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand, I sent off my letter to the state explaining that I would not be joining Apartheid's army. Bureaucracy being the way it is, it allowed me to spend the following year working on four feature films from concept to completion.
Canon films and other Hollywood outfits were using the general turmoil to shoot big budget films on smaller budgets with huge government tax breaks and the opportunities, compromised as they were, were there to be taken. I moved up from gopher through PA to location manager and assistant director. It was an incredible year in that I got to see a lot of my country on location, slept an average of four hours a night the whole year and met actors and crew from around the globe.
In August 1987 the letter finally arrived. The state was not impressed, and they stripped me of my citizenship. I had until December 31 to leave the country.
Friends had tried the court route. A good friend, Charlie Bester, spent years in jail for refusing to fight; others ran around the country essentially homeless. I decided that I could not live in the country with just those options available to me, but rather than just flee to Europe and the roots of my skin, I was determined to see as much as I could of the rest of the continent that held my heart.
What followed was material for another book, the better part of a year backpacking across Africa at a time when admitting you were a white South African could get you shot.
The years between 1984 and 1989 were stunning in their energy and turmoil. I met and shared time with characters as diverse as Winnie Mandela and Paul Simon, had teargas thrown at me on a regular basis, and wrote terrible adolescent poetry. I read and devoured everything I could on film and spent holidays working at our local art cinema. (I believe I watched Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander 20 times.)
I opened my mind to experiences, music, people, and places that have stayed with me ever since.
Upon finally arriving in London via Cairo and Frankfurt, I encountered a new and far more foreign environment than I was expecting. Living in a place as a child under your parents' wings has no bearing on your experience of it as an adult. The UK was in an economic slump; Thatcher was busy dismantling support for the arts.
Upon arriving at the union offices in Soho, I discovered there were fewer films being made in Great Britain than in three months in South Africa.
After unsuccessfully sending out 500 resumes looking for work in film and television, I acted upon the advice of my aunt the screenwriter and started attending editing courses up in Oxford. A slew of menial and demeaning jobs followed that year, but I kept on studying. It wasn't until after I'd met my wife-to-be, Deborah, an American student studying in London, and spent my last £500 buying a plane ticket to the US that I was offered both a job at an editing facility and admission to the masters program in film at London Polytechnic. You have to love the ironies of life.
It took a year to find the job in New York City that truly launched my career: an entry-level position at Dennis Hayes and Associates, the premier commercial editing house on the east coast at the time.
In the 14 years I've been in the US since, I've slowly and methodically worked my way up to the point where I am today, the joint owner and main editor of an editing boutique in Denver, Colorado.
What started out as a means to stay in the business at all costs, with an eye to moving back to production work, has evolved into the second love of my life: forming and shaping diverse stories in the sanctuary of an edit bay.”
Robert “Bryce” Button-Greer, 57, of Parker, Colorado, passed away unexpectedly on the 19th of May, 2023, due to heart complications.
Bryce was born on the 4th of February, 1966, to Ann and Errol Greer in Nairobi, Kenya. Shortly after, Bryce moved to his childhood home in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he grew up with his two younger siblings, Hamish and Caroline.
In 1986, Bryce graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where Bryce received his multiple Bachelor’s degrees in Film, Economics, Classics, History, and Fine Arts. Bryce also received a degree in Film Editing from Oxford Film School in 2007.
Bryce was an extraordinarily accomplished individual and an expert in directing, developing, implementing, and facilitating marketing strategies, activities, and policies, alongside production editing and development. Some of his proudest professional accomplishments were writing his editing guide “Nonlinear Editing: Storytelling, Aesthetics, & Craft,” being the owner of an editing company where he hass two special assistants - Jamie and Ryan (Friends for life), and acting as an instructor and mentor at Colorado Film School.
Since 2017, Bryce held the title of Director of Product Marketing at AJA Video Systems, a position he was incredibly proud of and held close in his heart. Bryce formed many deep professional and personal relationships with work and industry colleagues. His unique capacity to bring varied parties together across disciplines in a range of countries whilst understanding the complexity of the engineering of AJA undoubtedly was his major skill in life. There are so many people that consider Bryce as a deep friend (Special mention to Brock who literally lived in Bryce house recently) that it is extraordinary and a tribute to his parents who produced a son with unlimited capacity to care about others.
When not dedicating his time and energy to his work, Bryce loved music and played the bass with some of his closest friends at band camp as much as possible on Thursdays. Bryce also loved traveling the globe, with his camera in hand, seeing all the wildlife and visiting the world’s best restaurants. He loved Formula One, James Bond, Alien films and drinking pineapple margaritas in his backyard.
Bryce has opened his heart and home to many over his life but is survived and cherished by his two sons, Morgan and Colton, his proudest legacy. He is loved and remembered by his girlfriend Kristine and her two children, Audrey and Liam, who loved Bryce like he was their own father. Bryce's brother and sister Hamish and Caroline, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Wayne and Renata , his nephews Mattias, Gabriel, Andre and Milva, his cousins across the world. His aunts and parents Ann and Errol are naturally devastated by his loss. No parent should lose a child and all send their love / warmth to comfort them at this time.
Many loved Bryce and will remember him as one of the most kind, generous and creative individuals the world has ever had the pleasure of knowing. His life, personal experiences, and the way he loved people cannot be adequately expressed in words and will be immensely missed.
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