Avenida Productions, a North Hollywood provider of entertainment services and production space to independent filmmakers of color, women and the LGBTQ+ community, appointed former Warner Bros. Entertainment executive Susan Steen to its advisory board.Steen worked for the Burbank entertainment company for 31 years, most recently as executive vice president of worldwide theatrical marketing.Steen said that she was interested in joining the Avenida board because of how the company’s founders, Chief Executive Fanny Veliz Grande and Chief Operating Officer Nelson Grande, came up with their own concept of creating inclusion in an industry where there are not a lot of opportunities for Latinos and many other groups of people.
“Their enthusiasm and their desire to make this happen was so enticing,” Steen said. “It is so wonderful, I think, to have the opportunity to have people tell their stories that will never be made by a major studio but are still wonderful stories.”Among Avenida’s productions that it is distributing are the Veliz Grande-directed “Our Quinceañera,” available on Tubi and Amazon.com Inc.; documentary “My DACA Life” to be released later this year; and the romantic comedy “Nice Trick,” which is in development with actress Emma Bell.
Avenida was started in 2016 by Veliz Grande, a two-time Imagen Award nominee, and her husband Nelson Grande to provide a range of services to independent filmmakers – from creation, crowdfunding and capital raising, through to production and distribution, the firm said in a release.
“We’re there for them every step of the way creating a new Avenue into Hollywood for artists from under-represented communities,” Nelson Grande said in a statement.
“Stories that represent the under-represented are important to our culture,” Steen added. “If we only see the big scale, glamorous and advantaged talent on screen and we don’t see ourselves or our neighbors or people that have completely different experiences, we have no one to relate to.”Her experience at Warner Bros. is valuable because it taught her what can be done with a lot of money, Steen said.
So, the concept of reducing that and coming up with a smaller footprint for the filmmakers she works with engages her. Her experience at a large Hollywood studio brings an understanding for what can be done and what things to limit themselves to focus on, she added.
“They haven’t had my experience and I haven’t had their experience,” Steen said. “Between those two worlds we seem to come up with a lot of great collaborative concepts.”