Veteran film producer Effie Brown is leading the charge to level the playing field when it comes to owning and investing in content.
In January, Brown took the helm of Gamechanger, a Los Angeles-based production company that aims to allow creatives from diverse backgrounds — women, people of color, LGBTQ and the disabled — to become equity owners of content. And she wants to dramatically widen the circle of financial backers for film and TV content by bringing in investors who also represent a greater array of diverse voices.
“If we don’t bet on us, nobody will,” Brown says in the latest episode of Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” “Gamechanger does not work unless our investors are as diverse as the content we’re trying to put out. That is our mandate.”
Gamechanger was founded in 2013 with a focus on nurturing female filmmakers. With Brown coming on board, the focus has widened along with its investment opportunities. Some investors have come in as equity partners in the company while others are taking part in traditional independent film financing opportunities. Gamechanger offers a low point of entry for the film finance side of $100,000 to $250,000 as part of the mission to broaden the base.
The producer of indie hits such as “Dear White People” and “Real Women Have Curves” also gives her candid opinion about what has and hasn’t changed in Hollywood when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the wake of #MeToo, #OscarsSoWhite and other movements. There has been much more focus on diversity and inclusion at the highest levels of the industry, but that does not mean that the issue of institutional bias and its influence has gone away, Brown says.
“It’s a fine line,” Brown says. “We must not become complacent. We must not offer high fives and congratulations over (businesses setting up) a lab here or a workshop there or a diversity award here. Why should I be congratulating you on something that should have been the norm to begin with?”
“Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.