African American Ad Legends Shine in ‘Channels Changers’ Doc Premiering July 1 At Siskel Film Center

Gypsy Chicago Productions will hold the premiere showing of its documentary, Channels Changers, at the Siskel Center on July 1 at 6pm.

Channels Changers introduces viewers to the most hidden persuaders of all – African American admen and women of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The film spotlights the first Black advertising execs in Chicago’s top ad agencies, who literally changed the face of advertising and media during this period.

It is a story that has never been told.

Lowell Thompson, who has written extensively on the subject and who introduces the film, worked with fellow veteran adman Cotton Stevenson to tell the story of this amazing period and the group of Black ad trailblazers.

With an extraordinary cast, ‘Channels Changers’ introduces viewers to the most hidden persuaders of all.

Channels Changers shows how the Civil Rights movement and the riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. spurred corporate America to finally open the doors to Black people.

Gypsy Chicago Productions interviewed over 20 Black ad makers who entered the industry in that period, including industry giants Tom Burrell and Carol H. Williams, who both went on to found nationally prominent agencies.

The stories told by all these trailblazers reveal the great challenges they had to deal with as they broke into the “all white ad world” of that period. Also featured are a number of ads, commercials and campaigns that few knew were created and produced by African Americans.

Stevenson recruited a team of top-level filmmakers, many of whom were old friends from his days as a Chicago creative executive.

Initial funding for the film was provided by the Field Foundation of Chicago, and Chicago ad agencies FCB, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett and DDB. A Go Fund Me campaign provided additional financial support.

Executive Producers Cotton Stevenson, Lowell Thompson, Terry Peigh
Producer Laurel Dobose
Writers Lowell Thompson, Alaric C. Martin
Consulting Producer Alaric C. Martin
Director/ Director of Photography Bill Youmans
Editor/Motion Graphics Alaric C. Martin
Title Design Animation/ Webmaster Dani Dudovick, Double Dog Productions
Videographers Dennis Thompson Joe Brooks Cal Evans
Location Sound Dustin Berta, Case Chamberlain, Daniel Hernandez
Main Title Music Darryl Duncan, GameBeat Studios
Colorist Pete Jannotta, COLOR BY PETE, INC.
Trailer Colorist Bob Sliga
Sound Design /Editor Sidney Jones, Jr. BAM STUDIOS CHICAGO
Hair and Makeup Marcus Geeter
Wheel Man Michael J. Manhoff
Legal Ellen Duff Ratcliffe, Duff & Peel LLC
Transportation Coordinator Maura Donahue
Special Project Consultant Bill Izzo

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