I’ll do my best to try and paint a picture of film, digital and television producer Effie T. Brown, but it’s hard to do with just words. Brown is the reason Podcasts were invented, meaning that her tone often reveals what she’s really saying versus what you just heard her say.
She’s one of us. Brown sounds like one of us and what I mean by that is that you feel that you know her because you do rather know so many strong Black and Brown women like her that listening to her speak—a mile a minute—feels like home.
Gotta love this new world of instant access where a Google search is as automatic as, say, waking up and brushing your teeth. In my search to learn more details about Effie T. Brown, I turn to her website to fill in the (http://www.dulynotedinc.com/about-effie) early details like, she’s Los Angeles-based. She earned a degree in Film Production and Theater from Loyola Marymount University before going on to participate in Film Independent’s Project Involve, an intensive fellowship for people seeking a career in the film industry. Her career began as the Director of Development at Tim Burton Productions.
From there Brown “put in the good work” producing several feature films at various production levels, and then Effie founded Duly Noted, Inc., and under that banner, she produced “STRANGER INSIDE,” “REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES” and “EVERYDAY PEOPLE.”
Awards followed starting with “REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES” which won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize for Ensemble. Working in association with Sony Screen Gems and Pathe International, she also executive produced, “IN THE CUT” directed by Jane Campion. Brown’s film “ROCKET SCIENCE,” won the Sundance 2007 Grand Jury Prize for Directing and was also nominated for Best Feature, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress by the Independent Spirit Awards. “DEAR WHITE PEOPLE” won the Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically in the Fall of the same year.
Brown really came into the mainstream when she joined Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in a reboot of HBO’s “Project Greenlight” (2015) where she made her stance on diversity and inclusion in the film industry, in every department, her “war cry.”
It was there, in 2015, watching her go toe-to-toe with these White men that helped me understand just how important Effie T. Brown was to every Black and Brown person who knows that they deserve a shot, but are repeatedly denied access. I won’t use the word hero here, we are “folks” after all and that word is rather stiff. Effie T. Brown has my respect … and I think you heard what I wrote, the way that I felt when I typed it.
This is part one of an edited excerpt from the conversation.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Let’s start with the fun stuff, so what’s new?
EFFIE T. BROWN: So much. I’m preparing to go to New York to film a female action movie called “We Real Cool” by a first timer, a Black female director whom I found at Sundance Ignite program and she’s amazing. I’m actually excited to be doing this Black, female action movie which is a bit of an homage to Walter Hills “Warriors.” Then I’m developing the Sammy Davis and Kim Novak story. And I’m doing a project with Netflix. I’m doing a lot like I’m actually hitting it on all fronts.
But the big thing that really excites me is that I’m fundraising for my production company [Duly Noted, Inc.] because it really became apparent that African Americans, women, people who are the other will never have true creative freedom or be able to monetize all their projects until we are able to pay for them. Know what I mean? We have to have access to resources. It’s become really apparent now that were in the world of ‘inclusiveness’ which has become [just] a buzz word. [Black people] We’ve been doing [‘inclusiveness’ ] it forever!
LAS: Yes, I know exactly what you mean.
EFB: (laughing) I mean I’ve been Black and a woman, all my life! So, I’m a little like, I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’ve always had to create opportunities for ourselves. I’m really excited about really monetizing Duly Noted Entertainment. I’ve done several movies in the past and I have a great track record but it’s just time for us to stop asking other people to make our stuff. To finance our movies even if it’s just the development, you know what I mean? You know how hard it is for someone that doesn’t come from your culture, doesn’t know anything about your background. Don’t get it twisted everybody is talking about diversity and inclusiveness but still it’s straight, white men that are the gatekeepers, 100 percent, most of the time. Listen, they are not malicious per se they just don’t have any of those touchstones that we have. So we have to work much harder. Do you know what I mean?
LAS: Effie, you know that I do!
EFB: Like on Sunday morning when you’re doing your hair? Like when you say, [to them] hot comb and they say, what? Like when we are talking about hair that’s something that’s truly us.
LAS: Mercy, Effie, my mother burnt my ear—always.
EFB: Right, she always hits your ear and you pray that she does not get a phone call.
LAS: —Because she always got a phone call!
Can you share more about this New York film? What’s the title?
EFB: “We Real Cool” and it’s going to be directed, Melissa V. Murray. As I said, she’s a graduate of Ghetto Film School and a Sundance Ignite Fellow alum. She also wrote it. We are prepping May 6th and we are going to be shooting in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
LAS: Brownsville, you say? Well, aren’t you adventurous?
EFB: It’s a great, great story. An action-adventure and it’s real New York. The city is a character in it. I love it. It’s about three young girls before they go off to college. They go to a house party in Brooklyn. One girl goes to lose her virginity to this guy, she’s determined not to go to college being a virgin. The guy that she has sort of a not so pleasant encounter with, that guy she loses her virginity with at the party ends up dead.
LAS: Oh, Sh$t!
EFB: Yes, and they find out through social media that she’s the one being blamed for it and the [dead] guys brother happens to be a connected dude. He’s the little brother of a guy who runs stuff out there. So literally these girls are being hunted. So the question remains, why don’t they just go home.
LAS: I won’t lie, I was thinking that! Why?
EFB: First, they didn’t tell their parents where they were going. Two, they don’t’ have jobs so they don’t have any money to get back from deep Brownsville, Brooklyn all the way back to Harlem because the trains aren’t running. It’s like 4’o clock in the morning.
LAS: That’s too late, Mama.
EFB: Exactly, ain’t nobody should be out that late, in New York, because it’s a very specific thing. If you’re out in the streets that late at night … you know what I mean? They don’t have any money and their phones are dead. It’s the trifecta. You are a kid, so you know, you don’t have $80 to get back home. You don’t know your parents phone number by heart, do you, no! Are you going to the cops and ask for help, no, not in this day of age. What I loved about this movie the most, is that no one is coming to rescue them but them. That’s the beauty. It’s sort of a coming of age story. Friendship secretes all of that comes out and figuring out what’s going on and they have to save themselves. What does it mean, female friendship?
LAS: You mentioned at the start that you were also working on something at Netflix, can you share about that now?
EFB: I can share a little. It’s based on a YA, coming-of-age, superhero musical called “Bug Girl” about a girl who takes on the attributes of bugs in order to save her family … and I will leave it there.
LAS: That’s enough for part one. I will return.