When Brent Renaud, an award-winning American filmmaker and journalist, was murdered in Ukraine on Sunday, he was there to do what he’d done his entire career: witness the world’s most dangerous stories.
At the time of his death, Mr. Renaud was commissioned by Time Studios on a “project focused on the global refugee crisis,” according to a statement from Time executives.
Through his extensive film catalog, Mr. Renaud the human impact of war and conflict, said Vivian Schiller, who commissioned Mr. Renaud’s documentary series about the war in Iraq for DailyExpertNews and Discovery Channel.
“He was just a filmmaker with a huge heart,” Ms Schiller said on Sunday. “It’s really kind of imbued with all of his work.”
Mr. Renaud, 50, often collaborated with his brother Craig to produce film and television projects for The Times, HBO, NBC, Vice Media and other companies. He filmed in conflict and risk areas, including parts of Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Mexico and Ukraine.
One of his earliest projects was ‘Off to War’, an intimate documentary series from 2004 that he made with his brother. Over six months in Arkansas and then a year in Iraq, the brothers followed a group of Arkansas National Guards from the training ground to the battlefields.
The series was personal to the brothers because they too were from Arkansas. The film focused on the war-torn families as well as the fighting. At one point, after several soldiers were killed, a unit leader suggested the brothers go home, Mr. Renaud in a 2009 interview with Curator Magazine.
“It wasn’t a consideration for us — the danger wasn’t an issue, and the story wasn’t complete,” he said.
The series marked the beginning of Mr. Renaud. He and his brother took their cameras around the world, from Black Lives Matter protests in Little Rock, Ark., to the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
In a 2015 documentary for The Times, Renaud climbed barbed wire and waded through rivers to film child migrants fleeing Central America for the United States.
The brothers survived several near-death situations, including car accidents, detonations of improvised explosive devices and attacks by members of the Egyptian military, they said in a 2013 interview with Filmmaker Magazine.
The Renauds learned to travel with little equipment, sometimes only using a cell phone camera when they had to be discreet, they said. Shortly after finishing his studies, Mr Renaud said he had traveled to Cambodia with a small camera that he “barely knew how to use”.
“Somehow I managed to be taken seriously and got an interview with one of the co-prime’s top operational generals,” he said.
The brothers won multiple awards, including a 2012 duPont-Columbia University Award for the 11-minute film “Surviving Haiti’s Earthquake: Children” and a 2014 Peabody Award for “Last Chance High,” a series about Chicago students with emotional disorders.
Mr. Renaud was a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University from 2018 to 2019.
Mr Renaud’s latest assignment on Sunday was to capture refugees fleeing over bridges in Irpin, according to his reporter, Juan Arredondo, who described the events in a video posted to Okhmatdyt Hospital’s Instagram page. As always, he tried to grasp the human toll of geopolitical conflict.
“We don’t seek out the dangerous assignments,” Mr Renaud told Curator Magazine in 2009. “But once we’re committed to a story, we’re willing to do whatever it takes to tell that story.”