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August 10 2019
Dave Brown, photographed in Woodland Hills, California, on August 5, 2019.

Sundance in January, Toronto in September, Cannes in May—most film festivals tend to be annual affairs. Dave Brown—actor, producer, mover, and shaker—is not willing to wait. Enter Indie Night, his weekly screening of films, TV series, and other assorted offerings by emerging talent at the TCL Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, formerly known first as Grauman’s, then as Mann’s. Brown canvasses film schools, inviting up-and-coming filmmakers to submit projects for consideration, and the most promising ones are screened for an audience of more than 150 industry types, fellow aspirants, and plain old film lovers.

When Brown first tossed around the idea, certain members of the Hollywood establishment were less than enthused. He soldiered on. “When someone tells me I can’t do something, I will prove you wrong,” he vowed. Before long, the likes of director Lee Daniels, Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, and the director John Singleton, who died this year, were coming to see what all the fuss was about. Robi Reed, the casting director and producer, is now a monthly regular. “Indie Night is my golf course,” says Brown. “Bring all the writers, actors, producers to one place, and you’re eventually going to build a lot of deals.”

Indie Night is now in its seventh year, and Brown is hell-bent on expansion. With a little help from an actor friend, the very busy Morris Chestnut, he now intends to import monthly installments of Indie Night to Miami; Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; New York; San Francisco; and Dallas. “We’re going to be the American Idol for films,” says Brown. “There’s a lot of talent out there, but they don’t know how to touch the people they need to touch.... I feel good knowing that I’m helping someone get to the next level.” —Ashley Baker