Effie T. Brown Named CEO of Gamechanger
Veteran producer Effie T. Brown (Dear White People, Project Greenlight, Real Women Have Curves) has been named the new CEO of Gamechanger, which launched in 2013 as the first film financing fund by and for women. Brown is broadening the fund's scope to include projects by and about people of color, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities. Gamechanger is also expanding into television and digital content with a new, fully monetized development fund that will enable it to buy, option and develop IP for television, streaming and digital platforms.Gamechanger has also brought on producer Nina Yang Bongiovi (Fruitvale Station, Dope, Sorry to Bother You) and Arturo Barquet, EVP and Chief Financial Officer of Global Production Operations at Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, as Advisors. Jennifer Kushner, previously Director of Artist Development at Film Independent, joins as Chief Content Officer. Joining the original founding team of Geralyn Dreyfous, Dan Cogan and Wendy Ettinger are Brenda Robinson (Won't You Be My Neighbor, Icarus) and Naja Pham Lockwood (Last Days in Vietnam, Gook). Robinson and Pham Lockwood are investing their own money, ensuring that Gamechanger is both headed by and has significant financing from women of color. "As a black female producer who's been in the business for over 20 years, I know how hard it is to not only get into THE ROOM but to then secure financing when you have a culturally diverse or gender specific point of view," said Brown. "I am beyond thrilled to join Gamechanger as CEO and help level the playing field by providing equity financing for production, development monies as well as strategic partnerships for people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, women, and people of color. What also makes us different is that the diversity of our content is as diverse as our investor pool. Our investors understand that it is going to take all of us pooling our monies together to ensure that these inclusive voices are given the opportunity to own their story from script to screen." "From the very beginning Gamechanger has been committed to reflecting the community we serve, which is why we are thrilled to have Effie on board as our CEO, along with new founders Brenda and Naja," said Founder Geralyn Dreyfous. "Effie's vision to expand our community of filmmakers, as well as our foray into television and digital development will truly take us to the next level." "Effie has long been driven by the idea that 'diversity' is more than a word, it's a philosophy that will benefit both the richness of stories coming out of Hollywood as well as its bottom line," said Founder Wendy Ettinger. "Her commitment to quality storytelling and her years of experience supporting underrepresented creators will ensure we deliver on our promise." Previously announced Passing, which is currently in post-production and led by Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, and Significant Productions, is a reflection of Gamechanger's future investments. New founder Brenda Robinson was responsible for putting together a syndicate of African-American investors for the project, in addition to investing her own money. The thought-provoking feature stars Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, Andre Holland and Alexander Skarsgård, alongside Bill Camp. It recounts the story of two African American women, each of whom can "pass" as white but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1928 Harlem. About Gamechanger Founders, Management and Advisory Team
Effie T. Brown (CEO) is an accomplished producer and longtime voice and advocate for inclusion in Hollywood whose credits include Real Women Have Curves, Dear White People, PROJECT GREENLIGHT and Lee Daniels' STAR.Nina Yang Bongiovi's (Advisor) Significant Productions, formed in 2009 with Forest Whitaker, has produced Fruitvale Station, Dope, Roxanne Roxanne, Songs My Brothers Taught Me and other critically acclaimed films. Arturo Barquet (Advisor) is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Global Production Operations, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. He oversees finance and production operations globally for all productions released by Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Home Entertainment's 1440 Productions along with Universal production partners including Illumination, Working Title, and Blumhouse. Jennifer Kushner (Chief Content Officer), previously Director of Artist Development at Film Independent, brings to Gamechanger her expertise in cultivating emerging and established talent, and forging meaningful collaborations within the independent film community nationally and internationally. Geralyn Dreyfous (Founder) has a wide, distinguished background in the arts, extensive experience in consulting in the philanthropic sector, and participates on numerous boards and initiative. As Co-Founder of Impact Partners and an independent producer, she has been involved with award-winning films such as Born Into Brothels, The Square, The Invisible War, Meet the Patels, and The Cove. She was an original Co-Founder of Gamechanger Films in 2013. Wendy Ettinger (Founder) is an award-winning producer of documentary and narrative films who has focused on the power of media to catalyze social change throughout her 25-year career. She co-founded Chicken & Egg Pictures in 2005 to fund and creatively mentor women documentary filmmakers. Since its inception Chicken & Egg Pictures has awarded over seven million dollars in grants to over 300 filmmakers. The films have gone on to win Academy Awards and Emmys, as well as have global impact. She was proud to be part of Variety's Power of Women New York Impact List in 2015, as well as a recipient of the 2014 PVBLIC Social Impact Leadership Council Award and the 2009 Loreen Arbus Award for Social Change as a Co-Founder of Chicken & Egg Pictures. She was an original Co-Founder of Gamechanger Films in 2013, a fund created to address the gender/equity disparities in the film industry. Brenda Robinson (Founder) was most recently an equity investor in the Academy Award-winning documentary Icarus as well as Won't You Be My Neighbor and Step. She is a member of The Recording Academy and sits on the boards of The Representation Project, Chicken & Egg Pictures, the International Documentary Association and the Women at Sundance Leadership Council. Naja Pham Lockwood's (Founder) producing credits include the Oscar nominated Last Days in Vietnam, Wayne Wang's Coming Home Again, Gook, and Cries From Syria. She was an investor in Impact Partners and currently serves on the Board of the Utah Film Commission and Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). Formed in 2013, Gamechanger Holdings launched with a first-of-its-kind mission to fund women-directed narrative films. Films financed through the fund include Land Ho, The Invitation, The Tale, and Nancy. Gamechanger Films have premiered or screened at festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, Venice, Los Angeles, Locarno, Toronto, and London; have been named on "best of the year" lists; and won numerous awards including a Film Independent Spirit Award.