FILMING THE BRAVE: "In the time of your life, live—"

In the late summer of 1996, Johnny Depp stepped behind the camera as the director of The Brave, the tragic and deeply moving story of a young Native American, Raphael. Unable to support his wife and children, Raphael accepts money from a snuff-film producer, agreeing to trade his life to secure a better life for his family. Johnny wrote the screenplay with his brother, D. P., and played Raphael, so, in many ways, The Brave is his most personal and deeply revealing work.

Unfortunately, The Brave has never been released in the United States. The film was shown in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on May 10, 1997. The Cannes audience gave the film a standing ovation, but the Cannes critics panned it, and their unkind reception has hung like a cloud over The Brave’s reputation, preventing it from being widely seen. The film remains a mystery to most American Depp fans, who buy bootleg copies on eBay and dream of the day when they finally can view an authorized version of The Brave.

Only one photojournalist was permitted on the closed set of The Brave during filming. Christophe d’Yvoire wrote an insightful profile of Johnny Depp as a director for the March 1997 issue of the French film magazine Studio, and contributed photos and interviews with Johnny to two succeeding issues that year. The pictures Christophe d’Yvoire shot in Ridgecrest, California and Los Angeles during those hectic days in September 1996 represent the only record we have of this unique time in Johnny’s life. We are happy to present d’Ivoire’s photographs in this gallery, to give Depp fans everywhere a glimpse of The Brave and its gallant, passionate director.