Jim LeBrecht recently found fame as the subject of the documentary Crip Camp, which he co-directed and produced with fellow BAFTA Breakthrough, Nicole Newnham, but he has a long history of working in the film industry as a sound designer and mixer.
His career started in the theater when he was the resident sound designer at the internationally renowned Berkeley (California) Repertory Theater for 10 years starting in 1978. He credits his time working on numerous Shakespearean classics over those years as important in his development as what he likes to call himself, a “sound artist.” His imagination and sense of sound as much more than a craft has served him well as he entered the world film. Rising within the ranks of the heady Bay Area post-production community, he honed his skills at Skywalker Ranch and the fabled Saul Zaentz Film Center. Eventually, LeBrecht turned his attention and heart to the extraordinary Bay Area documentary film community. Bringing his strong sense of how story could be supported and elevated with sound, he became a sought-after mixer and sound designer. To this date, he’s mixed well over 180 films for filmmakers all over the US and abroad.
Nicole asked Jim to co-direct and co-produce Crip Camp, about his hugely positive experience at his summer camp growing up. It was an incredibly collaborative and well received project which also focused on the disabled civil rights movement, with Jim’s wife Sara Bolder also joining as a producer, backed by Netflix and President and Mrs. Obama’s production company, Higher Ground.
Throughout the editing process of making Crip Camp, there was one word written on a file card in his and Nicole’s editing room: “Community.” That has been the central tenant for their film and its incredible impact campaign.
Jim hopes that being a BAFTA Breakthrough will help him connect with other filmmakers that he can learn from as he still feels like a new director. He is already working on a number of scripted projects, both in the US and the UK but is still ensuring that he continues his work in sound design too.