Remembering Brian Gerber | The Nation

Remembering Brian Gerber | The Nation.

Remembering Brian Gerber

September 11, 2012

On the night of Tuesday August 28, I came home from a birthday party and opened my Facebook page to the shocking and dismaying news that Brian Gerber was reported missing on Monday, August 27 around 4pm. He was last seen driving a silver 2004 Toyota Prius.

I found myself thinking the most outlandish things. A father of two doesn’t just disappear. Brian’s profile picture for years had been a black and white “ABIDE” poster, not the kind, bespectacled face of this intelligent, sweet and funny man. With a witty and liberal take on current events, he regularly posted provocative and not always popular commentaries. I worried there had been some sort of confrontation or misunderstanding regarding his posts. My kids and I hoped that he would be found alive and well.

I hadn’t seen Brian in a few years, but he played an important role in my, and my son’s, life. I met him through an email introduction about five years ago. My then-10-year-old son Nikos, who struggles with learning disorders, had a chilling vision for a global warming PSA that eventually became “Save It,” a popular video warning against the impact of climate change starring Tony Goldwyn and his 9-year-old brother Dimitri which debuted on You Tube at #2 for non-profit videos and appeared on CNN and MSNBC during the 2008 presidential debates.

My friend Marshall Herskovitz who had created Thirtysomething and produced Blood Diamondoffered to help. He called his friend Leila Conners who had just co-directed the climate change-themed documentary The 11th Hour, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The next thing I knew, I received a call from her partner on the film who enthusiastically offered to help get my son’s vision translated into a full-blown short.

When I finally met Brian, he went way above and beyond. He graciously found stock footage of polluters, climate disasters and endangered species affected by oil spills, all to include in Nikos’s childhood vision of his dire future. He was generous with his time, advice and his invaluable production tips.

Brian took great joy in sharing pictures of his newborn first child and he always had a twinkle in his eye delivering an ironic comeback for any climate change naysayers. The time we spent with him was brief, but his contribution to my son’s message was significant and helped to bring my son’s nightmare of the future into a full and frightening vision for others to comprehend and hopefully halt. Nikos, now 15, remembers him as “a really nice, kind person. He helped me a lot and never asked for anything in return. I’m very sad and will always be grateful for his help.”

On August 29, Brian’s body was found in his Prius at the bottom of a ravine off the Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest. He had apparently committed suicide. I couldn’t believe it, neither could countless other friends who posted on his Facebook page. They too had memories of how his generosity had contributed to their artistic pursuits, and as with us, how he never expected anything in return.

His modesty too was apparently legion. I did not know until after his death that he was a board member of IDA and that with his business partner, Thomas Riegler, had spearheaded the 2008 relaunch of documentary.org. I was also unaware that Brian was a founder of Digital Hollywood and had collaborated on videos with R.E.M. and Elvis Costello.

His biggest production credits included The 11th Hour, Leonardo DiCaprio’s global-warming documentary, and The Dungeon Masters, a celebrated look at the Dungeons & Dragons sub-culture. Brian also worked with numerous nonprofit organizations, producing multimedia projects for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Heal the Bay, TreePeople, Bioneers, and the Scripps Oceanographic Institute, among others.

I can only say that in my memory, Brian most closely resembled the sweet, lovable, humorous, and caring guardian angel Clarence, played by Henry Travers in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. I only wish that he had been saved by an angel of his own – an angel who could have shown up at the moment of this generous man’s deepest despair and shown him how many people had been touched by his kindness, how many lives had been changed by his generosity, and how many friends he had whose most fervent wish was to have been there to give him the support he needed.

Please join me in contributing to the Brian Gerber Memorial Fund, which will help the financial needs of Brian’s wife, Arabella Field, and their two young sons in the wake of his tragic passing.

About the Author

Nicole Hansen
Nicole Hansen is the Founder and President of Green Galaxy Enterprises (GGE), a renewable energy consulting business…

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Entrepreneurs’ Organization LA – Business Entertainment Charity Event

• Entrepreneurs’ Organization Los Angeles – Business Entertainment Charity Event

Nicole Hansen was sought out by the Entrepreneurs Organization’s chapters of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and San Diego to help coordinate and produce the largest charity event in both the Playboy Mansion and Entrepreneurs’ Organization histories. Nicole led up the partnership between an international renewable energy organization as the beneficiary of the fundraising and brought in her VIP guest list of dignitaries including UN Ambassadors, the Former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, actors such as Oscar nominated Demien Bichir among others, Producer/Writer and renewable energy advocate Marshall Herskovitz and the biggest celebrity guest of the night, Billy Idol whom Nicole had met while appearing as Marilyn Monroe in his 1990 videos directed by David Fincher, Cradle of Love and LA Woman.  To cover the event, Nicole brought in her contacts in the “green press” such as Sarah Backhouse and others who helped get word out that at the Playboy Mansion, clean technology was a cause worth supporting and that sustainability is as sexy as any playmate.

Mother Nature Network  

MNN reporter Sarah Backhouse spoke with celebrities on the red carpet about their interest in renewable energy.

Watch: Billy Idol (singer), Jason Chambers (Human Weapon), Vanessa Lengies (HawthoRNe), Ashley Rickards (One Tree Hill).
Watch: Darren Moore (Alter Eco on Planet Green), Olden Polynice (former NBA player), Demián Bichir (Weeds), Frank Leboeuf (former French soccer player)
Watch: Carla Ortiz (CSI: Miami), Kirsten Bradford (president, EO-LA), Robson Mello (secretary-general, IREO), Marshall Herskovitz (president, Producers Guild of America)

xxx

Alastair Shearman of GGE co-produced alongside Nicole designing the distinctive invitation and helping to carry out sustainable practices throughout.  Nicole brought in Darren Moore of Ecovations  to sponsor and help green the event and also highlight the green initiatives the Playboy Mansion had been employing sustainable practicing in the kitchen and on the grounds for over 20 years. Each guest received a list of what sustainable practices they would encounter at the event and GGE’s Green Galaxy Pictures produced a sizzle reel Event Green hosted by Darren Moore to show how all these initiatives were carried out leading up to and post event.

EO/BEC – Sustainability Practices Introduction for Guests:

  • You’ll be dinning on Plates made out of Fallen Leaves that are compostable, instead of paper or plastic which are difficult to recycle once mixed with food waste
  • Utensils are Compostable and made in a plant that runs on Hydro-electric power, instead of energy intensive plastic pieces that usually end up in landfills
  • Cups are made from a bio-polymer and fully compostable, instead of plastic cups that are made out of petrochemicals, which contain OIL
  • Food Waste from the Event, with the compostable items will be made into renewable energy through a gasification process, at Liberty Composting Facility
  • By making all food service items compostable, we are able convert the food waste, cups, plates and utensils into RENEWABLE ENERGY without generating any landfill waste. Food in landfills accounts for 20% of the average waste stream, food waste can be a resource of nutrients in soil and bio-mass for electricity
  • Playboy’s Chef Carter is one of the Greenest Chef’s around, he’s been supporting Animal Husbandry and Sustainable Fishing Practices for nearly 20 years. see the attached supplement about Chef Carter and the Menu
  • Playboy Mansion has maintained a pesticide free grounds for 15 years
  • Playboy Mansion Pool and water features on the grounds are Ozonated, minimizing the use of chlorine and making the water safe and fun to be in
  • Playboy has agreed to allow Ecovations to replace and test out an additional 125 light bulbs with new LED bulb’s, for the opportunity to save 204,600 lbs of CO2 annually at a potential cost savings of $137/mo or 1,644 per year!
  • The Mansion now utilizes some LED and efficient lighting Technology, reducing electricity usage while delivering a high-quality lighting experience.
  • Step and Repeat banners by Mozaik, made out of 100% post consumer recycled content, utilizing an environmentally-friendly process to eliminate the use of chemical pollutants and wasted water
  • Video Documentation of process, from food selection to food waste into renewable energy

The following day’s events included an intimate brunch organized by GGE for all the out of town guest Renewable Energy Advisors, celebrities, dignitaries and EO board members to mingle and network post-event at the sponsor hotel, Petit Ermitage in Beverly Hills and co-hosted by Bolivian Actress and recipient of the Bolivian Metal of Honor, actress Carla Ortiz.

Reza Bavar
Former Entertainment Chair of EO/LA, Founder at Kaloud, Inc.

Nicole worked with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (“EO”) to put on one of the largest events in EO history. She was a pleasure to work with and contributed in invaluable and varied ways to our success. I will spend the rest of my life thanking her for her contribution. I would highly, and without reservation, recommend Nicole Hansen to anyone.

The placement of these organizations as part of our portfolio does not imply an endorsement by Green Galaxy Enterprises nor its partners.


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Save It (PSA)

Save It, A Global Warming Message by a 10 Year Old

Poster with actor Dimitri Spiridakis

As 10-year-old Nikos Spiridakis watched his mom pumping gasoline, he listened to the methodical beeps that kept tempo with the gallons of fuel funneling into their sedan.  To him, the beeps resembled the sounds of a hospital EKG and he knew that every gallon burned was contributing to the death of our planet.  He shared an idea for a story, incorporating those sounds and images with his mom, and he insisted she couldn’t tell the idea to anyone unless they could help him get it shot.  She agreed, and immediately called producer Marshall Herskovitz.

Herskovitz (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) thought it was a great story for anyone, let alone a child, to have conceived, and he offered to executive produce. Nikos himself mentioned the idea to his godfather actor/director Tony Goldwyn (The Last Kiss, Dexter) who was so impressed, he offered to act in the spot and be his directing mentor.

Film director Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury, The Express) thought it was the kind of visual storytelling that showed Nikos was capable of directing even at age 10 and took on the role of Nikos’ directing consultant.  Nikos’ mother Nicole Hansen helped to put the entire project together and his brother Dimitri played the little boy.

Everyone from the cinematographer to the editor gave their time in the effort to help Nikos make his first “home movie,” since Nikos financed it all with a gift from his grandmother.

Nikos’ idea can have a real impact on the way people view the reality of global warming — a vision especially poignant coming from the mind of a dyslexic child, who tells his story with pictures more effectively than almost anyone could using words.

Nikos knew his future was in the hands of the older generations and believed that if the world could see his vision of our future, he could inspire us all to do our part and “Save It” for future generations. The video message Nikos envisioned soon became a 1Sky campaign and debuted as TakePart TV’s inaugural release for YouTube at #2 for non-profit videos. It ran on CNN and MSNBC during the 2008 Presidential Debates, and appears on the Weinstein Company’s 2009 DVD releases such as The Reader.

On Nikos:

“In a long career as a producer, I’ve hired over forty first-time directors, and have seen first-hand that the essence of film directing cannot be taught – a person either gets it or doesn’t, a person either understands how to think through a camera lens and understand how images will go together or doesn’t.  It was astonishing to me, though, to see that ability so fully established in someone as young as Nikos.  His ability to visualize carried him through every aspect of this process, from pre-production, to the day of filming, to the many long hours in the editing room.  He’s simply a born filmmaker.”  Marshall Herskovitz, Executive Producer, Save It  (credits include: Defiance, Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai, My So Called Life and Thirtysomething)

“The word prodigy is overused and, it seems to me, often misunderstood.  If you want a terrific example of a prodigy – a person with exceptional talents, particularly at such a young age – then take a look at Nikos.  He is a natural born filmmaker, and it’s our responsibility, I believe, to encourage him and nurture those talents. “ Gary Fleder, mentor (credits include: The Express, Runaway Jury, Life Unexpected,Kiss the Girls)


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