Prolific producer Effie T Brown - who has an impressive list of Sundance films under her belt including Real Women Have Curves, Dani and Alice, Rocket Science and Stranger Inside as well as Executive Producing Jane Campion's IN THE CUT - has just signed on as an Executive Produce on the feature version of the award winning lesbian short PARIAH (screening now at Sundance) by newcomer and out lesbian writer/director Dee Rees.
Pariah was Dee Rees's thesis film at New York University, and it has garned awards from major festivals around the world. It tells the tale of a 17 year old girl living a double life in New York - one as the good girl to her family, the other as a hip, butch lesbian out on the town. Emotional chaos ensues when the two worlds collide.
The film is beautifully shot using the colorful kinetic energy of New York City as a background, with gorgeous cinematographer and a gut wrenchingly sensitive performance by newcomer Adepero Oduye.
As a first time filmmaker and recent grad it can be tough breaking in. When I asked Dee if she's gotten her three picture deal or huge agent yet, she laughed and revealed, "I feel like I'm on one of those Discovery channel shows, you know, where they capture and tag the animal then let them back into the wild to track them. All the agents and studios want to meet with me, take note of what I'm doing then just release me to see what I'm going to do next."
Although Pariah has garnered an impressive list of awards, her film school buddies with more commercial shorts have managed to score deals, to which Dee responds, "They just have more Hollywood mainstream appeal". So she's planning on making the feature version on her own.
I mentioned to her that it was at the Sundance screening of Angela Robinson's short, DEBS that she and manager Larry Kennar got Sony to pony up $1 million to make the feature version, which subsequently screened at the fest a mere later. Dee said that Angela - another African American out-lesbian film maker - has been a great resource and mentor.
Director Angela Robinson
In addition to Producing award winning films, Brown has also served as a Line Producer on But I'm a Cheerleader, Speedway Junky and Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her.. Brown is also attached to Silas Howard'ss script The Billy Tipton Story about the transgender band leader. Brown's company, Duly Noted, Inc also has a deal with HBO.
Me and Dee at the Sundance shuttle stop