Under different circumstances, making the 20-mile trek up and down the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles several times a week wouldn’t have been the way that Scott Browner chose to spend his hiatus as A-Camera Operator from The Goldbergs. But with the COVID-19 pandemic having shut down the film and TV industry, the situation is anything but normal, and Browner has been happy to hit the road to help those in need.
“It’s very rewarding to feel like you’re being useful,” said Browner, a Local 600 member since the early 1990s.
For the past few weeks, Browner, a National Executive Board (NEB) member, has been driving to the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) where he loads up his Honda Accord with boxes of groceries. He then heads back south to deliver the food to house-bound seniors who live within a 10-mile radius of his house in Thousand Oaks, California.
Already a regular volunteer with Many Mansions, Browner had also signed up with IATSE Cares. No stranger to emergencies, Browner already had protective masks left over from the Ventura County wildfires. When he heard that the VCAAA was urgently looking for delivery drivers, Browner jumped at the chance.
“Most of the regular volunteers are older retired people and when the pandemic hit, a lot of them didn’t feel comfortable continuing,” he explained.
His routine is to alert the residents that he is on his way, inform them when he arrives, and leave the grocery packages on their doorsteps. Social distancing protocols prevents Browner and other volunteers from bringing the groceries inside the house.
The VCAAA reimburses mileage and keeps the delivery list ultra-local to help minimize driving. On one occasion, Browner dropped off an order directly across the street from his home.
During his non-volunteer times, Browner keeps plenty busy. His career dates back to the late 1980s and includes work on such movies as Jurassic Park III, Austin Powers in Goldmember and My Cousin Vinny. His extensive work in television includes a seven-season run on Without a Trace. Browner joined The Goldbergs during the program’s second season. The ABC comedy had nearly finished its seventh season when the COVID-19 outbreak shut down production throughout the industry.
Browner has been active with Local 600 as well. Lisa Guerriero, with whom Browner worked on multiple film and TV projects, nominated him for the NEB and he has been an alternate for the past year while also serving on the guild’s Heritage Committee. Having experienced periods during his career where he went from project to project, Browner says he would love to help find ways to keep members health benefits protected when they are facing challenging times.
“I’ve been trying to figure out a way to help people who are short of hours,” he said. “The Health Preserver list is good if you need 10 hours. If you need 60 or 70, it’s not always that easy. This business can be tough if you’re not on a regular show.”
Browner is an empty nester. His son Seth works for the Hillel House at UC Davis while his daughter Michaela works for the nonprofit Global Citizen in New York. Both children are safe, healthy and working from home, their father reports.
As for Browner, during this unconventional down time, he’ll continue to hit the road. “I plan on doing this until we go back to work as long as the need is there,” he said.
The VCAAA still needs volunteers and supply donations. Call (805) 477-7300 or e-mail email@example.com for more information.