Interviews

10 Filmmakers to Watch in 2014: Effie T. Brown

Producer Effie T. Brown is one of our 10 to Watch for "Dear White People" which premiered at Sundance Film Festival.

With 17 movies under her belt, Los Angeles-based producer Effie T. Brown is thrilled to have caught the attention of The Independent’s 10 to Watch with her work on the feature film Dear White People, a 2014 release that won the US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at Sundance.

Maud Dillingham: What made you want to produce Dear White People?

Effie Brown: It started out as a concept trailer and it went viral. I watched it from afar. It struck a chord with those of us having to deal with people who think racism is over because Obama is President. (Producer) Stephanie Allain (Hustle and Flow) reached out to me and said ‘I think you would be great for it.’

MD: Why do you think it resonated with Sundance programmers?

Brown: Every once in a while you run across a director with a distinctive voice talking about a subject we don’t talk about very often. It wasn’t so earnest, on the soap box. It was a political satire, so you were able to take it with a grain of salt. It’s witty, it’s funny, it’s hyper-stylized, and you haven’t heard that voice before coming from a young black male. It resonates because it is the truth.

MD: What is your favorite thing about being a producer?

Brown: I love putting together the dysfunctional family to execute a vision. I love crewing up, working with the director on the script, then hiring the casting director, the DP, and so on. When you make a movie, you have 80 to 100 people coming together that are artists. To wrangle that many artists into one cohesive vision, that’s the part I love the most.

MD: What was it like dealing with Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions?

Brown: We were really fortunate to have a lot of interest from several distributors. (Lionsgate’s) Jason Constantine in acquisitions went to college with me. Roadside has a great track record, and we knew them personally. There was a level of trust, they have a beautiful pedigree, and they are nothing but ethical. They have impeccable taste and know how to get a movie noticed and out in the marketplace. I think this will be a home run, fingers crossed.

MD: What’s next for the film?

Brown: Dear White People will have a theatrical release in October 2014. We’re very excited. We’re doing festivals now, and we’re going to do some college screenings to prime the pump. It will be widely platformed.

MD: What is the most important thing in getting a film made?

Brown: It has to be something that I believe in. It has to leave the world a little bit of a better place. At the beginning of my career, it was about gaining different experiences. But now I really have to believe in it, because it is such hard work and requires so much energy. As a producer, you have to engage people’s inner artist and their soul to make something of quality.

Read more about Effie Brown and her work on our Facebook page.

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