The Unsinkable Effie Brown Makes HBO’s ‘Project Greenlight’ a Must-See: “I’m not his favorite person”

The Unsinkable Effie Brown Makes HBO's 'Project Greenlight' a Must-See: "I'm not his favorite person"

When producer Effie T. Brown ("Dear White People") signed up to produce the indie movie being shot during "Project Greenlight" Season 4, she had no idea she’d be front and center on the show. She had produced four films for HBO, including "Real Women Have Curves" and "Rocket Science," so HBO exec Ginny Nugent knew her well, and told her that while she might be on camera, the focus would be on the director of the movie, Jason Mann. "It became apparent that the entire series was about me and Jason," she told me in a phone interview. "If I would have known that I would never have done this for free!"


Brown was paid the SAG day rate for the first day of shooting the series along with her producer’s fee plus two points on the back end for the movie: "It was a shitty deal. I only got paid to do the film."

That’s Brown. She tells it like it is. As this compelling season of "Project Greenlight" unfolds, Brown is the star of the show. Now she’s back in LA, the show is shot, the movie premiered in mid-July at L.A.’s Ace Hotel Theatre, and will show in theaters and screen on HBO right after the November 1 series finale. 

Brown first met with Adaptive Studios partners Marc Joubert and Perrin Childs, who brought "Project Greenlight" back to life; Joubert knew Damon and Affleck from working on the previous iteration of the show when it was at Miramax. Brown asked Joubert if they had intentionally chosen the initial script "Not Such a Pretty Woman," which includes black prostitutes, to be controversial. Nope. "I’m going to speak freely," she decided, figuring she had already lost them.

In her direct way she told them: "These are the movies I’ve made. I’ve never gone over budget or schedule. I have always delivered a quality movie. My crews look like America, everyone is qualified." 

Joubert asked her: "You know how to say ‘no,’ right?" 

She replied: "I’m not afraid of saying ‘no’ and holding a tough line. You haven’t researched me at all! If there’s anything that I could work on, it’s being a little kinder and gentler. I’ve been stuck in impossible situations. I’m an army brat. So I lead, you follow the chain of command, or get out of the way."

Within two hours, they hired Brown to produce the movie. And she delivered exactly what she promised. 

Even in the first episode, Brown pops. During the meeting to pick the director for the season, with executive producers Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, producers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Joubert, HBO’s Len Amato, and Jennifer Todd, president of Affleck and Damon’s Pearl Street Films, Brown defends her choice of a directing team comprised of a Vietnamese man and a white woman, challenging Damon about the importance of the show reflecting some diversity. She points out that a room full of white people is about to pick a white director to shoot "Not Such a Pretty Woman," a script written by a white man about black female prostitutes. When Damon argues that “when you’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not the casting of the show," Brown says, "Wow, ok." Damon insists that merit should finally win out. 

What really happened: an African-American woman argues her case with a powerful Hollywood movie star who is accustomed to obsequious, deferential behavior. What Damon doesn’t factor into the equation is how this candid exchange will play to viewers at home. (He eventually apologized for his remarks.) "It did feel like an intimidating room to walk into and be part of," said Brown. "They had already met and hung out and picked the first 13 contenders. I was the last person coming in. They know each other. That was not the full conversation, to be real. That was a more polite version of that exchange."

Why did you argue with Damon?

"I had no choice really. I’ve been black and a woman all my life. I have worked in this business for 20 years. I’m 43. It was one of those things. Literally in that moment, was I going to risk public humiliation, bringing up this opinion, or deal with shame and excuses: ‘You let that go by?’ That’s a big responsibility. I was more afraid of my mother: ‘That’s how we raised you and sacrificed, that’s it? When the time was for you to stand and be counted?’ That’s all that went thorough my head: damned if I was going to do that. At the same time, Matt was the biggest movie star in the world, he could win the Oscar with ‘The Martian,’ he’s incredibly thoughtful, so smart, so sensitive. Before that all happened, I am with Jason Bourne and Batman, I loved it. It was disheartening, to be ‘Oh, like, ok.’"

It felt to Brown "like, they are, ‘What the fuck are you doing here?’ To my chagrin, when you’re in that room, you have to validate yourself if no one takes you seriously: ‘Listen to me, I know what I’m doing.’" 

What’s your relationship with Damon now?

"Word on the street is I’m not his favorite person." (Brown promises more reveals in later episodes.)

As soon as the team inevitably announces white Jason Mann as the winner who will direct the "Project Greenlight" movie—the one auditionee who does stand up for his strong vision—he walks off the stage and pigeonholes Damon and Affleck about shooting on 35 mm. Brown argues that filming on celluloid will take $300,000 out of the limited budget. But she happily backs Mann’s choice to go with another, better script, "The Leisure Class" instead of "Not Such a Pretty Woman," and so do HBO and the other producers. 

Throughout the first five episodes you see a clear demonstration of how Hollywood men function with each other, what their internalized rules and assumptions are, how they instinctively work around a woman who is perceived to be in their way. Brown, a veteran of 17 independent productions, is fair and professional, even if she tends to be straightforward and direct.

And she is fearless. When she tells Peter Farrelly—another Hollywood talent accustomed to sycophants—on the phone that Mann has already been shown the ropes of 35mm vs. digital and doesn’t need a tour of the FotoKem lab, Farrelly abruptly calls Joubert and quits the show. He no longer wants to deal with Brown. Damon, who helped to bring the duo onto "Project Greenlight," loyally sides with them against her. And Affleck, to his credit, says she should just continue to do her job, as her producing partner Joubert constantly worries about how Brown is registering with the various powers that be. She’s focused on making the best film possible on budget. Of course, Mann goes around her again and convinces Affleck and HBO to give him the extra $300,000 to shoot on film. 


At this point, Brown has seen most of the episodes but can’t watch the show anymore. She had to fight with the series producers to make sure she was treated fairly and accurately. She demanded to see the first cut of the controversial Episode 3 and lobbied to change how she was portrayed. "I was upset with how that Farrelly conversation was cut," she said. When she argued with him about taking Mann to FotoKem, "which is the last film lab in America, it would be like taking a kid to a candy store and telling him to eat his vegetables."

She found out what was being said about her only by demanding to see the episode. The Farrelly brothers quitting was "so hurtful," she said. "I get them coming at me. I never talked to Bobby, we were cool, I saw him when we had that one conversation that one time, and I made him quit? Tying it up with pretty bow? So I’m sure they were going over every angle to figure it out, which was so hurtful. Not one of them called me to say what happened. I said, ‘I’m not going to do any more on-camera interviews until I know what was being talked about.’ I found out when watching. At that time it was a different cut and I fervently had to get into it, because it was a lie. Someone was saying an untruth. I went to the powers that be about that last cut of Episode 3. I told them, ‘I will have to defend myself. I will talk about what really happened with Peter Farrelly. This could be damaging to my career.’ I could handle it if I’m mean and aggressive and weather that storm, if at the end of day, I was good at my job." 

HBO fixed it. "Len Amato is cool," says Brown. "HBO has been great. I am grateful Len Amato was there. He was a producer, not always a suit. He recognized that Jason was the bad-ass director, he delivered, and he was an obvious—difficult—choice. He will aways back the good director and the vision, no matter how difficult it is. That’s what you sign up for at HBO."

As far as reality show rules go, HBO stayed on the up and up. "They never put words in our mouth," said Brown. "Nothing was scripted. Jason is a purist. He would never have stood for it either. Everything that happened, I can honestly take that. But I can’t watch it and hurt my feelings again, honestly. I can’t get bent out of shape and cry in my cups about it. I have to keep moving forward. When it was happening my goal was to care about the people who are relying on me to keep it moving forward."

Even though it holds final cut, HBO still had to deal with powerful Damon and Affleck. "Pearl Street could have kiboshed it," said Brown. "They all saw all these cuts and approved them. Ben Affleck was the cat who had my back. Ben is down. All right, good! That was surprising to me, I thought it would be Matt, who has this liberal reputation. Honestly, I’m grown enough to say, ‘I’m not for everybody, not everybody likes me, and he may be one of those who just can’t stand you.’"

After watching the show, what would you change?  

"I could have handled [Farrelly] differently. I could have done it with a softer approach. I was told, under no circumstances were we getting more than $3 million. You just cut my legs off from under me and you know it. What became apparent was not, ‘everybody’s out to get me,’ but I am so used to fighting to be heard, and to do my job, to be treated fairly, sometimes I come off harshly, when it’s like, ‘Yo, no one is trying to fight you right now!’ That’s what I saw. I could probably get the same effect and have reached the same outcome, if I’d come at them a little differently, and be just as effective. I learned a lot from this experience."

"Was I fabulous, always in the right? Heck no. I did a good job. I’m not a man. That’s the thing. I’ve never been anything other than a black woman. I learned what I learned: to reach your goal, you can take several paths. I’m used to taking the direct straight path. If I felt I was not looked at through the male gaze as a female, you bet it would be different. I have to think, the people I’m working with, they don’t think they are misogynistic."

Meanwhile Brown is moving on with her already flourishing career. She’s doing the paperwork on a forthcoming announcement, is prepping Lionsgate’s "Flyy Girl," adapted by Geoffrey Fletcher from Omar Tyree’s novel and starring Sanaa Lathan, and has an upcoming black horror movie on Lifetime. "I’m waiting to see what other opportunities come my way from this experience," said Brown. "I’m learning the ways of Twitter."
 
Are you glad you did "Project Greenlight"?

"I’m waiting it out until the end. I’m happy with the experience. I’m super grateful that at the end of the day, no matter what, the show showed a beautiful, qualified, inclusive crew making a great movie. On the TV, you see people reflecting African-Americans making a movie, so that many people can join the experience. That was important to me, one of the reasons I did it. We accomplished that. 

How’s your relationship with Joubert?
 

"Marc and I had a great relationship at beginning. It’s now in tatters. He has a real hard time with conflict. You can’t win them all: Matt Damon, Marc Joubert. Life is long."

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Comments

Joe

It’s amazing what she counts as her responsibilities with each episode. One hour it’s finding the quickest, cheapest location, bitching to another "person of color" about how hard their jobs are, feeling offended, just being black in general. I really wanted that guy to offer to fire the one black actor if she had such a problem with him being in a "subservient" role. It’s shot at a manor, Effie; other than the primary protagonist, who are you "comfortable" with being played by a black person? It angers me that she has a job, and air-time, and is surely being celebrated by idiots on the internet.

LC

What a brutal industry, from inside and out, Effy. Keep up your great work and I’ll pick an Effy over a Jason ANY FRIGGIN’ DAY!! oy with the status quo and those who will kill truth to keep it

KL

Effie. Brown. was. right. The movie is being panned everywhere. The Director was coddled and spoiled. I cannot believe all that time and anguish over film vs. digital. Who cares if your big pile of steaming turd is guilded in gold? I didn’t agree with everything she did, and I rolled my eyes when she went on her rants, but she served the movie best. She did her job.

Danielle

Wow, did any of you people read this article thoroughly? Effie clearly stated she wasn’t perfect in this show and admitted to doing things differently looking back. Did anyone see how she was a woman just doing HER job in a man’s world? That Jason dude was the catalyst in this whole program ( green light project). Effie was very professional while having to DEAL with him. READ her piece again very slowly until you get a better perspective, meaning more positive. As if you were in her shoes. Danielle Brame

Laniyoung

Loved Effie. I relate to Effie. I know what makes her tick. If I didn’t walk in her shoes,it would make me uncomfortable to watch. Can you imagine living your life Ina constant "battle" to not only be treated fairly but to be successful enough to feel you have to represent an entire race. This is a real portrayal of professional black people with strong personalities. I hope everyone learns something from their own reactions to Effie.

Lrphoenix

I watched the entire series and loved Effie. I was really surprised by Matt Damon’s reaction after the fact. I expected more from him. But a persons true essence eventually shows up.

auspeed

Effie has a strong will but extremely limited interpersonal skills. Some people don’t value that highly, but I think it is essential especially in a people business like film making. She’s to thin skinned and too quick to read everything as a slight, a challenge to her authority, or a slap on somebody’s civil rights.

Dubs

Effie is a pro. Loved watching her and listening to her commentary. She’s someone to look up to.

Effin Terrible

I’m saying it, Effie is a bitch. End of story. Those of you on her side are siding with a lying, backstabbing horrorshow that has no intention of working as a team or a common goal. And claiming she’s worked on all these movies. What a joke. Check IMDB, everyone one of them has terrible reviews and many seem to be apart of the same project.

Klive

Jason Mann was an absolute diva, who was mediocre at best, which is typical within the realm of his privilege. Effie’s job was to bring the film in on time and on budget, period. It was never her responsibly to manage the raging egos and delicate sensibilities of her insecure counterparts. Peter Farrelly is a petulant child, and Jason Mann is an inexperienced twit, who’s big on bravado and short on talent.

Producer Please

The Insufferable Effie Brown. Just the worst.

Phil

It certainly seems like Effie manufactures drama. Certainly budget constraints would be a factor but it really seems like Effie is inclined to cover herself but at the same time blind side the director and short circuit him to the other management. I think a lot of people would have a difficult time working with her. The Director is certainly uncompromising and pushing things to the limit but that should be expected. I suspect Effie should consider polishing her interpersonal skills and perhaps attend a charm school.

Mike

Maybe, just maybe, the conflicts that constantly seem to swarm around her aren’t because people have a problem with women, or have a problem with black people; maybe they just have a problem with her.

@Jen

Racism and misogyny can exist in Hollywood, and the world, in unison with Effie Brown being a person of low character and a bad producer. This is, in fact, the case.

Jen

Are you people on here nuts? Do you now know her resume? This is exactly why the EEOC is now investigating Hollywood, of course it’s misogynistic, you would have to be living in cave not to know that. She’s a great producer, I would LOVE for her to produce a film of mine. I mean, Project Greenlight- how progressive. Another white guy getting the directing job – Chosen by a group of other white guys? No, racism and misogyny don’t exist in Hollywood at all. Yawn.

I hate Effie Brown

I agree with all the above comments. How many tim s did she say "with love in my heart…" And then proceed to screw the director or whomever else she was engaged with. She’s a nightmare. The opposite of a team player. She also made the show was unwatchable. She’s an absolute trainwreck.

Amen^

Nuff said. Throwing punches behind you means you can’t see where you’re going.

Sarah

Effie is not fearless at all. She is stuck. It’s so sad to me that all she wants is to not be perceived as the ‘angry black woman’ but that the character through which she perceives everything that happens. She is unable to see circumstances with any distance from the assumption she’s so quick to make. She’s honestly not doing anything to improve the situation in filmmaking for non-white men. If anything she is reinforcing a stereotype. Her most embarrassing scene was where she insisted a black man playing a chauffeur role be switched out for a white actor. All I could think was she took money out of that black actor’s pocket trying to do some kind of pseudo activism that really amounts to nothing. It was so ridiculous. Her perception of a chauffeur as "subservient’ is highly problematic as well. Dear Effie you have so much growing up and healing to do. Good luck!!!! As a black woman I find your views to be very narrow and presumptuous. I’m not sure that you even understand what you are fighting for — just how to fight! No one owes you anything and an artist has every right to execute their vision from their worldview as they see fit. You’re blinded by confusion sister.

LM

It was shocking that Effie came out being presented as the difficult one after a merely disagreeable conversation (it was super tame in any context that you put it) — and, yet, the guy that throws a hissy fit by quitting and leaving everyone in a lurch is left off the hook. He was so unprofessional to not be able to just have another conversation where things get clarified and worked through. What a baby! But Effie was the problem?!! Ridiculous and a clear sign that she got put in a box. She was doing her job by sticking to the budget — if there was more money to be had, they should’ve told her. They went around her and threw her under the bus instead.

Annette

I’m pleased to see she has reflected on the harsh way she talks and interacts. I am a black woman a full ten years older than her. I also have learned you don’t have to be harsh to be heard. I fully understand and appreciate her call for diversity but that can’t overshadow her work. The fact of the matter is thAt there are one percenters who hAve little to no contact with people of color so to insist you cast them as part of the films social scene is not realistic.

Natalie Smythe

Jason Mann is an inexperienced brat that HBO, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon helped to spoil. Effie Brown is an experienced producer who has not been shown one ounce of respect from anyone on the show except for Len Amato, and honestly, she isnt the conflict–is the behavior of the white men in power surrounding her and making it hard for her to do her job well. Its astonishing how basic Matt Damon and Jason Mann are–you could use these clips to illustrate perfectly what white male privilege looks like! GO EFFIE! TEAM EFFIE!

Jo

I absolutely love Effie. She’s smart, talented and super entertaining to watch!

Shelly

I love it when people of color aren’t afraid to call white people out on their BS. Get over yourselves!!!

PJ

Perhaps the most off-putting thing about the whole Effie kerfuffle, is the fact that she missed a HUGE opportunity to serve as an inspiration to under-represented entertainment biz hopefuls. Young women, as well as people from culturally-diverse backgrounds, would have really benefitted from seeing a positive role model. Instead, Effie has taken every opportunity to behave in a selfish, inept, petty, anti-social, drama-queen-esque manner… thinking only of herself (even to this day: check out the Vulture article where she complains about her remuneration on the snow), instead of using this opportunity to inspire young women, or people of color, or other groups traditionally under-represented in Hollywood. Just imagine the difference she could have made, with this very public platform. She had an opportunity to really strike a blow for diversity; instead, she acted like a selfish, belligerent child. I am embarrassed for her, and disappointed in the missed opportunity.
For shame :(

lkharter

She finishes a project and neither Damon nor Joubert want to see her again? Uh….I’d say she should cling to her Lifetime project like grim death. She’ll be doing a lot of work on that channel. She’s seen the last of the big league.

Dana B

I find it telling that she doesn’t seem to work with the same directors (or any creatives) more than once, which implies that they don’t want a repeat experience with her. Plus, doesn’t seem like she’s bonded with any other African-Americans who support indie film (Forest Whitaker, Kasi Lemmons, Lee Daniels.)

Long Enough

The anti-racists have become the racists. What a sad turn social justice has taken.

Its

To say most of the people in this country have had a "privileged, pampered existence" is truly a sign of appalling ignorance. Shame on you, your delusion, and entitlement.

@Alexandra: Stop

If anyone said, "Black people, [any generalization or directive]," they’d be labeled a racist, and likely rightly so. So, as an individual, shut up, please, and stop blaming everyone else for your shortcomings. All people are different; all people are the same. You’re the one who needs to evolve.

Alexandria Garnand

White people, who do you think you are? You can tell everyone’s story? Your privileged pampered existence can not hide your appalling IGNORANCE. We are bored to tears listening to your pathetic whining and watching your boring, repetitious, story! Take it out, IT’S DONE!

Except...

Have worked on many films with many line producers, and she’s objectively not only a bad one, but apparently an unkind person.

Belmondo

Effie is awesome, and she was only doing the job they hired her for. The director comes off as a total inexperienced douche who acts like a spoiled brat, going behind her back to manipulate people into getting what he wants. It was her job to bring his film in on time and on budget, and he seemed to have no concept of what either of those things meant. This season’s show has also exposed what fragile egos the men she had to deal with have. So many pissing contests, not the least of which was the Ferrally brothers. The director ignored all the parameters from day one, insisting on film instead of video, ignoring the budget, and showing no loyalty to anyone. People complaining in these comments sound like they have never worked on any kind of film production, because if you have been there, you know exactly what Effie was up against, and that she did a stellar job.

JJL

"…sometimes I come off harshly, when it’s like, ‘Yo, no one is trying to fight you right now!’ "

Effie, I’m so glad you realized this albeit a bit too late. As a fellow woman of color, with love in my heart, stop being your own worst enemy by unnecessarily antagonizing people. Wisdom. Patience. Humility. Choose your battles wisely.

TAR

By my count, as of now, 20 discreet commenters are pro Effie, 18 discreet commenters are con Effie. Fascinating! (Thread metrics provided pro bono.)

@Ginger

Hear hear!

You go,

Ginger.

Ginger F

Are people this ignorant on black filmmakers that they can lump them all together?
Effie Brown is no Shonda Rhimes or Antoine Fuquafor that matter! That like comparing Matt Damon to Alfred Hitchcock just because they’re white!

Effie Brown, being conniving, states diversity in hiring matters (true) but then she states she wants an Asian director because his race informs him on being more sensitive to how a black prostitute is smacked around AND FUTHERMORE and Asian director won’t "slut sham" a prostitute, apparently because white men are predisposed to slut shaming and racism????

Apparently Brown is ignorant on all the human rights violations in Asia, slave labor and human trafficking. In fact there’s lots of human trafficking of African women as prostitutes to various parts of Asia as well, seeing that Asian men also like their variety in prostitutes.

While shady players like DuVernay and Brown engulf the Twittersphere with their takes on race, people are ignoring great filmmakers like Fuqua, Singleton, Gray, Story and Van Peebles to name a few.

Matt Damon maybe dumb, but Brown is just plain nasty.

If anything, she makes me want to champion more African American filmmakers who don’t have to shady to make a point.

You can argue for diversity by using better examples.

The easiest would have been to champion the Asian film maker and female filmmaker because they did quality work and also because diversity matters.

To throw on the extra, like informing a group of white men that white men are incapable of being sensitive, especially on a script about a hooker? Really?

Doesn’t Hollywood have enough scripts about hookers???

Isn’t the first problem is finding redemption in a hooker movie?

Effie, shut up!

@Tar

Good point. You’re referring to the context she establishes. Agreed. To me, it reinforces the real problems she might face. Solving them is moving past it by doing good work. She’s not doing that. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. Be awful to work with, and no one will want to work with you.

waitwhat

3 million and 20 days for a single location indie film are complete luxuries. This is essentially a studio setup with every resource at their disposal. Effie is a line producer, and it seems a lot of commenters don’t understand that role. She is creating problems, as opposed to solving them and enabling the filmmaker to do his best work, plain and simple. She thinks she’s bigger than the movie and everyone else she communicates with; she behaves that way; and that’s what small people do.

JEFF

Interesting thoughts, much needed perspective. She is the real deal, doing a tough job. She just needs to work on her people skills, and resist the urge to take things personally/racially/genderly. Easy to advise, hard to do.

HOLD UP!

First of all let’s all try to understand the tremendous challenge of making a low budget film with a brand new, last-minute script, a young, socially-inept and completely inexperienced director who has no clue how to work as a team or be a leader. Top it up with a whole host of white, middle-aged Hollywood hotshots who could give a toss about their little "side-project" (as is evidenced by their willingness to quit at the first sign of trouble and be, overall invisible throughout most of the process), except for the fact that they ARE MAKING ALL THE MONEY from this show!! Then drop in this dynamic, black-woman who is clearly open, honest, intelligent and experienced into a pressure cooker and watch her struggle to deliver some kind of quality project within the budget in zero time and fend off all the weird and wonderful whiteys with their lateral, liberal, logic. Let’s see any of you nay-sayers handle all that kind of stress under those conditions. You couldn’t. Effie Brown is the real deal in a business full of fakes and flakes.

SI

Effie B. was just great in this show. I understood what she was going for; she expressed it well and was ethical and direct. It shouldn’t be impossible to comment on those subjects and be understood. It’s almost ridiculous to meet such resistance as she did, but she’s sharp and tough and used to it I guess. Still, it must be such a drag to not be fairly heard. More power to her, as my elderly whitebread mother used to say all the time.

@Shannon L

Maybe she should speak up when it pertains to doing a good job and not pretend that every criticism against her or her decisions is a slight against women or POC?

jeff

Be way better if more women and non-white guys got a chance to make more movies. Wish somebody could explain to me how a black woman who proudly alienates most of the guys on her team who have power advances that worthy goal.

Shannon L

@Kevin: Assuming you’re a white male, I guess I also need to address issues that get triggered for me when white men say something I don’t like. Your comments embody victim-blaming at its finest. White people and men reap countless privileges in our country and it’s completely acceptable to never talk about that at all, but when a black woman calls out discrimination then she’s “playing the race card.” As Effie said herself, this puts a heavy emotional burden on black women because they constantly face a no-win-situation – do they keep the peace, say nothing, and suffer private shame (and potentially criticism from other blacks/women), or do they speak up and risk public (i.e., white/male) criticism and decreased career opportunities? Regarding issues related to race and gender, this is something that white men NEVER have to think about.

Stephanie

I’m totally with Effie. She has the WORST job and she was constantly fighting the people who should have respected her professionalism and commitment to her responsibilities. The silly scene where the director was trying to sneak in another take after 9 pm, like a stupid little boy pretending it’s not bed time… yuck! She obviously did not relish having to treat them like the children they were aping – but she did. She said, "Are you kidding me? Do I have to actually pull the plug?" All the little boys were playing in the corners, hoping "mummy" didn’t see them. Yay, Effie! More power to her! (literally)

k.

With her being in the business 20+ years I have no doubt she knows what she’s talking about. It’s so easy for people to view her as difficult or problematic because she doesn’t bend and agree with the boy’s. If you haven’t lived her experience or walked in her shoes of course you choose to disagree. I’m glad she stood her ground and didn’t sell out like some woman do to stroke a few ego’s.

Corey

Nothing dumber than someone who refers to herself as an "army brat" as if that gives her some sort of keen understanding of leadership, or some other edge. Truth is "army brat" is a derogatory term for someone who has no friends and no roots because they move around their entire lives.

Maurice

I agree with Damon. And I think that we are in need of a Blacklight equivalent if we want to reward talent based on criteria that may differ from Greenlight’s.

Ross

Shut up Tar. If anyone is bad news it’s you. You opinionated, vile and hateful individual. Nobody would want to work with the likes of you, you snake.

tar

Granted,"race war" is an overstatement.
I just get the feeling that many of the people here who are rallying to Effie’s defense are doing it largely on the basis of her gender and race, rather than on the merits of her job performance. Whereas on other threads I am following, people are dissecting specific examples of how she should or shouldn’t have handled particular issues, independent of race or gender.
It is true, as anyone can see from my previous comments, that I find fault in the way Brown positions herself as a victim of "the male gaze" (not what she thinks it is) and "mysogyny". But if the PG team was mysogynistic, why would they have hired her? Why is the President of Damon and Affleck’s company a woman?
There is undoubtedly a boys club in Hollywood, and issues relating to under-representation of females and POC’s in positions of power are real. I just don’t think Project Greenlight is a good example of that.

Dongetit

Why is it somehow a "race war" when people simply respond to Effie’s proclaimed context of racism? Why consistently bring up race if you don’t want to engage on those terms?

Chris Clay

Sorry to say that "Selma" is a poor example. I was so excited to see that movie and so disappointed once I did. It was definitely not snubbed for anything.

Chris Clay

Keep in mind people that this is a "Show." Someone has to be made out to be the bad person or no one would watch. The "reality" is that’s it not that interesting. They are not going to make Matt and Ben look bad, so that leaves Effie, which I’ve heard wonderful things about. It’s a Show!!! Nothing more.

TAR

Though to be fair, all respect to Indiewire, which scored with this incredibly revealing interview with Effie Brown.

TAR

@DJ, well that may well be true. As William Goldman famously said, "In Hollywood, nobody knows anything." FYI, A.V. Club is recapping each episode of PG, and the comment threads there are far more nuanced and informed than this one is, which seems to have devolved into a race war.

DJ

@Tar, The irony is that most creative execs — above the liners who fancy themselves as writers and "pick scripts" — don’t have a clue about storytelling or what it takes to be a "creative." That irony is lost on them and makes the industry go round.

TAR

Vay, just as a point of information, someone in Effie’s position does not "pick scripts". She is a Line Producer/UPM, pretty much middle-management in the hierarchy, there to SUPPORT THE DIRECTOR by providing him/her with all the tools he/she needs to realize his/her vision, within the bounds of a given budget and schedule. She has no creative authority. It was extremely odd that she was even allowed into the room when they were picking the winner, because the Line Producer is specifically NOT A CREATIVE. Though the job requires an incredible amount of creativity, in the sense that she is there to solve problems, creatively, in the service of ghe director’s vision for the film. Which, IMHO, she consistently, egregiously fails to do, in each and every episode I’ve seen.

@Vay

^^^ Yep. No interesting movies made by white men. This is what identity politics has come to. Instead of just admitting that the Farrelly brothers are terrible, but make sense for a reality show, you’re going to assume all white men make boring movies. It’s so obvious who the racists are in this debate.

VAY

Effie lost her cool on the phone with Farrelly, when she should have directed her anger at the contest-winner director, who was doing yet another end run around her in his quest to get film. Because dick cartoons drawn on a man’s face look so much better on film. The movie looks awful…another story about white guys working out their issues related to money, sex, and power. No doubt Effie would have picked a much more interesting script if she’d been given the authority to do so earlier in the process. Project Greenlight perfectly illustrates why more diversity is needed in film: the committees of white men in positions of power greenlight boring movies.

Onjafatas

Effie sits around all day eating craft services until she can locate an opportunity to talk behind someone’s back flouting her own superiority, undermine them, or, if she’s really lucky, roll her eyes and yell at someone. She should work at the DMV.

ED W.

Sorry, ignore that last snark: "black twitter" was a phrase used in a recent Essence article, not in this interview.

Ed W.

I’m so glad Effie has been active on "black twitter". But someday, I hope there’s a twitter where all races can participate, because that might improve the dialogue between different cultural backgrounds. Until then, let’s all follow Effie’s example, and only tweet to people of our own race.

Rafee

Love her.

Daria

Effie is great! Her job is to manage the time and money and ensure that the movie is completed at-quality, on-time and on-budget. That what she was doing. Other people were being unprofessional and undermining her. Seems like there was lots of ego all around, but her ego was not out of control.

Bad Logic

According to Effie being racist to "correct" for past racism is okay. It’s a numbers game to her and until the film community perfectly represents or over-represents the percentage of minorities, she doesn’t give a damn about any other aspects of a film.

Yup

Here’s what no one has said. Effie Brown is actually racist herself. And for that, within this show, she is the most perfect trainwreck of a producer that can’t help but do the opposite of what she is doing which is fight with everyone because ur racist and angry. "Love in my heart". Most inauthentic producer ever shown on tv. Riveting.

Kimmy

It does get really frustrating when accountability can’t be enforced based on performance. Then it kind of feels like we’re moving backwards. Equality is calling out people’s nonsense. Effie is making a lot of people look bad, and I think it’s because she doesn’t realize how bad she looks.

Crac Efron

Wait, did someone list a Sundance filmmaker with a best picture nomination as a sign of art not being a meritocracy because she didn’t somehow win more? Different people face different challenges in arguably the most competitive business on the planet. But that’s the worst example I can think of, and it might mean we’ve lost the thread.

Glenn Rousey

This sickens me. She is literally calling two guys Joubert and Damon racist when they have devoted a good portion of their life to helping African Children have drinking water. What has she done other then just plant a flag that anyone who disagrees with her is a blatant sexist or racist

Everything to Everyone

Effie is rude af and straight up trying to subvert this director and sabotage his film. It happens all the time, but it has nothing to do with skin color or gender.

That, or...

I’m a distributed feature filmmaker who’s faced constant failure and disappointment, as any artist, but realizes it’s not about the cards being stacked against me, because they’re stacked against everyone, but that I can tell bolder and more affecting stories and create and distribute them more creatively and prudently.

DJ

"Art is the last bastion of merit-based achievement." Hysterical. Clearly you’ve never worked in the commercial arts. On another note, this thread proves another shocker: half the people hate Effie, half love her.

@Currer Bell

^^^ Ava DuVernay does prove art isn’t a meritocracy. How Selma got such praise, despite being so ordinary and middlebrow, could only be due to the politics she sides with. It’s certainly not due to her filmmaking.

kevin

Thoughts on Project Greenlight’s Effie Brown:
I am beginning to dislike this woman. She is playing the race-card and woman-card way too much. I’m beginning to wonder if this is how she has gotten where she is in the entertainment industry. She ran off, arguably, the 2 biggest names in comedy. She was unwilling to listen and accept another opinion. She let her pride get in her way. She let the race-card hold the entire project back. She overreacted to honest and genuine-intended help. In my opinion, she needs to address those issues that get triggered when white men say something she doesn’t like. I lost total respect for her as a human being when she started badmouthing Peter Farrelly behind his back in her meeting with one of the other producers. She knew the segment would air on HBO and had the gall to question Pete Farrelly’s manhood. Peter Farrelly comes off looking like a million bucks for the way he handled the situation. (Walk from a toxic environment.) She did not take responsibility for her overreaction nor was she willing to listen to another perspective. She seems to be hypocritical. It seems as if she goes through life waiting for someone to say or act in a way in which she is expecting so that she can fulfill the paradigm in which she views the world.

Currer Bell

Art is really the last bastion of merit based achievement? Tell that to Ava DuVernay.

^

Anyone interested in a less volatile, racial discussion of Project Greenlight should check out A/V Club. This thread is way too racially charged for my taste.

Ryan Sartor

This is awesome. Thanks for writing this Anne. I’ve been loving this season so far and it was great to get this insight into Effie Brown and the process of making the show and the movie.

^

The sarcasm is revolting. Like Effie’s. Be an adult. Make a point if you have one. African Americans represent 13% of the US population. Art is the last bastion of merit-based achievement. Effie behaves like a child. She’s lucky not to be treated like one. Feel free to swap out lucky for enabled.

Currer Bell

A bunch of white guys making movies for other white guys. I am so glad that they are there telling their stories making sure that their voices are heard. So glad that they are sticking up for themselves against underserved women and minorities. Good for them. Power to the white man.

Dax

All I see is a lil boy who never worked a day in his life begging for more money. Brown was paid to be a hard nose producer , all the execs said that much but the spoiled lil boy did everything he could to circumvent her. There are many more egotistical producers out there doing far worse but you will not hear or see that. Farrelly quit like a punk cause a woman disagreed with the him. Most of those guys in Hollywood don’t like each other but they work together to make money but this chump quits cause the black woman set his ass straight …

Currer Bell

How is it that the crew started giving the First AD the business and the director just stood there. But at least he made sure that the penis was drawn correctly. So glad we’ll get to see that in film instead of digital.

Christopher Thompson

WOW and WOW I write this for Effie Brown! My wife and I have been riveted to this this season. Thanks Anne Thompson (no Relation I know of) for covering this and unearthing the pieces that reflect our current state of affairs in America. My wife is East Indian and I am Black, White and American Indian and we concur with Effie and how working with whites vs people of color is like riding a roller coaster blind. Certainly the episodes are cut for tv but the gist of what Effie has to deal with is what most people of color deal with. There are 2 VOICES, white and everyone else. No Not all whites do this but unfortunately the majority prevail and thus the tension continues. So watching Effie be the whipping post and also have the role of "the buck stops" here person, exposes how Effie still had to prove she KNEW WHAT SHE WAS DOING. Otherwise why hire her. Anne your right in the previous thought that Matt was the liberal one but Ben had also recently dealt with his own unearthing of history with blacks through PBS and Professor Gates. Could have been the pivotal turn for him. We too were shocked. But they are from Southie and I commend Ben for respecting her for what she was hired for. Just NEED more of this from other whites in charge. We also felt that Effie was right in using the Biracial Directors for a fresh look. If we never saw another white person in a lead role again the celluloid is still available.Yes America has a majority of whites but that’s the problem we are drilled to no end of how white culture is the only story line we can relate too. Its NOT. Jason Mann, if different is the holy grail for tv viewing he was like a car accident waiting to happen. Jason is to us "King Farouk" with no sense of reality. Wait you win and all the drama Jason brings to that. Seemed elitist and out of touch with reality with a touch of aristocracy, like one of his characters. So no fan of the winner at all and couldn’t see his art for any of our dollars. The most disturbing part was Jason’s lack of scope, finances, guild issues and so on and not think that your actions deeply impact each of these area’s. Jason was like a child given ALL the toys with really no true success in theater that I know of and couldn’t compromise or work to that end. I’m no artist out right but I have watched enough back stories to know that the BUDGET is really real. Headline after headline. So, Effie like all of us who are tasked with running the "show" are never the most liked person. Especially at the onset it was established we have a TIGHT BUDGET. Are you listening Jason. Who likes NO to what they want. And this partner/producer, Marc Joubert, supposed partner doesn’t have your back and allies with the other short of integrity, Peter Farrelly. If the shoe were on the other foot I can see ole Pete pulling the same BS. Some folks can’t be contested about their own behavior but if its Effie then she’s the angry black/ woman/ person.So Effie Brown you have our vote and would hire you to see the job done as contracted or Jason didn’t realize that too was part of the whole enchilada. Hopefully this brings about substantive change in how Hollywood/America interact with each other…this is the real change we need. Effie your a blessing, may God strengthen your resolve. #IPledge2BreakMySilence @dulynotedinc @Miki410 @msnyreeemory

Sera R

I am a director and have worked on a ton of Indie projects……and I get where Effie is coming from. She is actually protecting the director’s project by keeping it on budget and on time. That’s her job. When you are at a certain budget point, you can’t have the sun and the moon and the stars. You chose what is most important and you get creative. That is Indie filmmaking. And guess what? If you are a woman, if you are a woman of color, you are being perceived and treated as such by the white men in power. All. The. Time. Period. Clearly people with privilege can’t seem to wrap their heads around this bc they have never felt the subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways white men shut you down. You have to constantly work around it to do a good job.

Currer Bell

Effie was doing her JOB. She was put in a bad spot more than once. She was trying to keep to the $3M budget. Did the film really have to be shot on film? Really? The director waited till FIVE days before the shoot to pick a location. That had major repercussion on the rest of the crew.

REi

I think it’s telling that her catch-phrase, and the name of her company, is "Duly Noted". A phrase that can be loosely translated as "I hear you, but I am going to ignore you, because I know better." Not exactly a way to win friends and influence people.

Taffy216

Love Effie. She is smart and effective. She is not a trainwreck of a person. That is way harsh.

sergio leroy

Effie done her job they need a hard ass producer . The last producers on project green light was wack. To you really need diversity in front of the camera and behind the camera . We shouldn’t be always know to be the talent in front of the camera show dome of us doing behind the scenes .

Eleanor

You go Effie! Man was such a douche bag to work with.

effie youie

It’s not scary that Effie acts like an insufferable child to everyone at all times. That’s just depressing. What’s scary is that she’s delusional enough to think it’s appropriate and seems to largely get away with it.

Herb C.

Diplomacy, Effie! Check it out.

alex

Brilliant woman. She stood up and spoke out. A lot of these filmmakers (who are fantastic talent) are also molly coddled by Hollywood and complacent about the films they make, who they make them with, for and how. She’s so right to call them out, and if they can’t handle being questioned or at best show the same conviction that she hits them with – then you know they’re just not used to hearing no or not being praised. WELL DONE EFFIE!

pamela peach

yes they are compromised in thier ability to make an objective choice, there for they can’t be trusted and will always seek a scape goat…the truth is how they handle it shows agenda and total lack of character, when someone in a powerful position fixes blame on an lower hired employee….hired to represent them and do a job for them ex: produce a film= then i say, it is a trickle down effect =you you see or get, came out of green lights creators and trickled down….it always starts at the top=everything below is a refelection of their character, ideas minds and souls=no one else is to blame=they are not untouchable or blameless, wake up!!!!!

jason

Effie seems like a complete bitch, who’s swinging the diversity/oppression stick around pretty heavy. If Matt doesn’t like her, okay, that’s just people. When half the team doesn’t want to work with you? It’s you. But no it must be because she’s just being type-cast as the angry black woman.

Sorry to burst your bubble, Effie, but you’re the passive-aggressive bitch, and I could care less what color your skin is.

Bwunderlick

Love all these anonymous internet comments saying Effie is unprofessional. Yeah you tell her, what does she know about making a movie?!

TAR

Sorry to obsess here, but I am a line producer. If you don’t like my opinion, how about the opinion of the team?
Peter Farrelly quit over the way she created conflict where none was warranted. Matt Damon isn’t talking to her. Her direct boss, Foubert, isn’t talking to her. Next week, if the tease is true, her director is going to try to kill her.
It’s not the job. It’s the way she creates unnecessary conflict, and makes it all about herself.
OK, enough, this commenting system sucks.

TAR

Interesting set of opinions. At this point, it seems pretty well split for and against the way Effie conducts herself. According to "Surprise", all the people who think Effie’s negativity is a problem, are misogynists, racists and xenophobes. Weak tea. Plenty of substantial reasons for our opinion of her job performance have been offered. But no, we’re all racist, white-frat-boy-pigs. Very sad state of affairs.

Yeah

Effie is what’s wrong with filmmaking, sexual politics, and race relations. Not everything that’s wrong, but some of it.

Tough truth

There’s a big difference between incessantly arguing how much of a professional you are and actually behaving like one.

Surpised

Effie isn’t the lone ranger. She has bosses who have made it clear what her role on this project was. It seems she was trying to operate within those parameters, but those boundaries seemed to start shifting from under her. The comments made by Sarah G and TAR point to how difficult of a decision it must have been for Effie to fight for her perspective knowing that it was going to be viewed through a lens that is different from her own. That lens could be that of misogyny, racism, xenophobia, or anything else, it is often hard to identify what discriminatory box to put things into, nor should that be the job of the marginalized. It is clear that here weren’t many defenders of her lens, but plenty for Jason’s, Ben’s, Peter’s and Matt’s.

Blake

I’m down with Effie. She’s a hard ass producer and that’s what you need to make a movie. It’s an expensive business that can spiral into a flaming piles of money with a crap product. I like the filmmakers who can make amazing things with a mountain of obstacles instead of carte blanche. I’d take Effie any day cuz she would fight the good battles

Jack Boyko

Effie is bad mojo, I’ve never seen anyone use race and ego in such a devious way, with nerveous humor. It’s called: Paranoid Personality Disorder. The essential feature for this type of personality disorder is interpreting the actions of others as deliberately threatening or demeaning. I also think she has Narcissistic Personality Disorder: People with narcissistic personality have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, are absorbed by fantasies of unlimited success, and seek constant attention. It’ painful to watch. I can’t imagine how she got so far. Perhaps because of diversity issues which she champions with great gusto…Very Sad for those who have to work with her.

babu

I have to agree with Sarah G. Film Making is not an exact science. There is no room for negative energy no matter what the circumstances are. You do the best you can with the resources given but dont ever walk away without finishing the scene. I dont think that she would have done what she did if Damon or Afleck were the lead actors on set working that day. Just my two cents.

Dee T

I just happened to see the first episode, but because of Effie, I continued to tune in. She’s terrific! I truly admire her. If she were a man, more people would think that she was a great, tough boss.

Tuesday

It is baffling to me as to why Effie is catching so much flack and earned the "difficult" title when she is working with the most entitled, uncompromising and inflexible unproven first time director imaginable. He wants to shoot on film for a TV movie when 95% of the viewing audience won’t be able to tell the difference. It is a tv comedy not a sprawling period drama. It would take up a huge chunk of the budget. He insisted on this rather than more shooting days which could actually take a film from bad to good. She is in charge of the budget and given strict parameters by her bosses whose interest she tried to uphold but Jason never respected her position on her team as evidenced by his continual runarounds. She was line producing this film with one hand tied behind her back but sure blame her. Everything is her fault.

TAR

CBizzle: " Rooting for a bunch of overpriviliged, entitled white frat boys. Typical."
I’m rooting for THE DIRECTOR/CO-WRITER, winner of the contest. Who are you rooting for? The Line Producer who pisses everybody else off? You seem to be making it about the race of the director and executive producers.

TAR

CBizzle, just one example of how production is lame: the LM submits three options for the mansion. One of them is Greystone, the Doheny Mansion, the most obvious, shot-in location in LA. Another is the Douglas Fairbanks mansion — again, maybe the 2nd most obvious mansion in LA; and the third I don’t know. BUT NONE OF THEM ARE RIGHT. And that –as far as we know — is ALL she submitted. That is some lame shit. Do you really think the director should have settled for those obvious, unimaginative choices?

Ronald Elliot

We just ain’t like the old black folks your parents knew, HUH? Ask any black or real white woman and you will see we have experienced the young old boy behavior and come to understand "it’s alive and well"

CBizzle

You guys have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Effie’s reputation is SPOTLESS. Everyone wants to work with her. She’s been stand-up from her first moments on screen. You all are a bunch of jealous haters. Jason is gonna WISH he listened to her like when he wasted 30 days looking at houses when he saw where they eventually shot. Rooting for a bunch of overpriviliged, entitled white frat boys. Typical.

Nic

I find it rather interesting that she is all about Ben Affleck when it was Ben Affleck who was the enabler behind the whole film drama. Everyone was telling the vampire that he needed to give up his shooting on film desire. It was Ben who encouraged him to fight and ultimately pushed through the film approval. Ben supporting the vampires film request ultimately became the bane of Effie’s existence. If Ben had just said "look, I know you really want to shoot on film, that’s great and all, but it is not going to happen on this film." then the wind would have been removed from his sails and he would have moved on to finding a location. Let’s not also forget that his short "The Leisure Class" was shot digitally!

Janet

Wow! I don’t think Chris Moore was much different, than Effie… oh yes he was. He gave Pete Jones and the other directors from the past seasons much attitude. In the end it’s a business and someone has to look out for the bottomline. If Effie is the villian, it’s by design. It would have been "amateurish" to let Mann shoot beyond the 12 hour day.

TAR

"If I felt I was not looked at through the male gaze as a female, you bet it would be different. I have to think, the people I’m working with, they don’t think they are misogynistic"
This woman is very bad news. Does she really think everyone is "male gazing" her? (Does she even know what that means?) does she really think everyone who disagrees with her antagonistic style is mysogynistic? Just a trainwreck of a person.

Tar

Must agree with Sarah G, vehemently. Taking her at her word that the docu-series is accurate, she’s pissed off someone every episode so far, and the teaser promises more. Way too much ego & my way or the highway. There is no evidence she has ever fought for what the director wanted, and that is the difference betwen a line producer and production manager — the line producer is a producer! She thrives on conflict, feeds her ego. Not surprised Joubert has rejected her –she made him look real bad.

Ugh

Yeah everything is because woman. Because black.

Sarah G

From what I’ve seen on the show If you hire Effie you hire conflict , ego and amateurism. The most recent episode on the first days of shooting are so embarrassingly amateurish i doubt she has the ability to put a good team together because her self righteous ness will always get in the way.

Angus McCoatup

Wow! Must admit, I haven’t watched the show, but the above comments are enough for me to know I dont have to in order to comment. Effie T. Brown’s work, rather than her reputation preceded her on this project. Her colleagues had a pre-determined stereotype pinned on her. As such they were geared for that at every meeting. [ “They had already met and hung out and picked the first 13 contenders. I was the last person coming in. They know each other. That was not the full conversation, to be real. That was a more polite version of that exchange.”] We can safely say that “Chain of command” and “obsequious, deferential behavior” don’t mix! That said. The whole person of colour (poc) having to prove they know what they’re doing; or resistance of white colleagues to taking instruction from poc’s is a daily chore. And one that is a pain when you dont have the power to put an end to shinanigans!i.e. going over your head. The bottom line is that poc’s will always be judged to a higher standard; and that “who pays the piper, calls the tune”. Brown will probably be asked to take over from Donald Trump on The Apprentice, when the wise judges of character in the US of A make him President!

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