Michael A. Simpson - President/CEO
Michael A. Simpson is an Emmy and Peabody award‐winning writer, producer and director, and the founding partner of Informant Media. The company’s inaugural production was CRAZY HEART, which he executive produced. Simpson also executive produced HYSTERIA, ERASED and STUCK IN LOVE.
A 25‐year veteran of the business, Simpson is a producer and director of more than 50 award‐winning feature films, documentaries, commercials and interactive programs. Under the Cairo Simpson Entertainment banner, the company and its principals produced more than 20 movies and television programs, and developed dramatic series for ABC, USA Network, TBS and HBO Independent Productions that Simpson wrote and executive produced. Simpson created, produced and directed two groundbreaking, original documentary series for TBS, “Portrait of America” and “The World of Audubon.”
Simpson has expert knowledge of, and extensive experience in, the distribution of films. He has served on the boards of NASDAQ-listed, publicly traded corporations in the entertainment industry. During his tenures, the companies and their principals provided financing for, and distributed internationally, more than 70 films including John Sayles’ Academy Award‐nominated “Matewan” (starring Chris Cooper, Mary McDonnell, James Earl Jones and David Strathairn); Sidney Lumet’s “Q & A” (starring Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton and Armand Assante); “Guilty By Suspicion” (starring Robert DeNiro, which opened the Cannes Film Festival in 1991); “Switch” (starring Ellen Barkin and directed by Blake Edwards); and “1492” (starring Gerard Depardieu, Sigourney Weaver, directed by Ridley Scott). Journalist Todd Coleman, writing in PREMIERE Magazine, called the $45 million independently financed “1492…a feat of entrepreneurial derring-do nearly as impressive as Columbus’s journey.” At the time it was considered the largest purely independent movie ever financed and produced.
Simpson’s debut feature film as a writer and director, the critically acclaimed “Impure Thoughts,” was a Grand Jury Prize Dramatic Nominee at the Sundance Film Festival, widely considered the premier platform for American and international independent film. In 2012, the film was selected for preservation by the Sundance UCLA Archive.
Simpson was a juror for the 2005 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. In 2010, Simpson was named to the Honorary Board of CINE, which provides recognition to established and emerging filmmakers. The board includes other notable CINE Golden Eagle Award winners Ken Burns, Bill Moyers and Steven Spielberg. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Simpson studied method acting with Norwegian actress and artistic director Anne Gullestad, Den Nationale Scene theatre in Bergen, and co-founder of the Sogn og Fjordane theatre in Førde, Norway.
Simpson and his Informant partners have expert knowledge of international co-productions.
Judy Cairo – Partner
Judy Cairo is highly regarded as a “hands on” creative producer of quality films, all of which she has produced on schedule and delivered on budget. Cairo’s calling card is identifying quality material, bringing the right team together, then helping the director and other artisans realize their vision in a way that also satisfies the studio or financiers.
CRAZY HEART, which she produced for Informant Media, was one of the surprise hits of 2009/2010, winning two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes. Cairo shepherded the motion picture from pre‐production through distribution, and the ensuing success story is well known in the film industry.
In 2010, Cairo produced HYSTERIA for Informant Media, a romantic comedy starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce, and Rupert Everett. In 2011, Cairo produced ERASED on location in Montreal and Brussels, overseeing all areas of production. In 2012, she produced Informant’s comedy-drama STUCK IN LOVE, which stars Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Kristen Bell, Logan Lerman, Nat Wolff and Liana Liberato.
Under the television production banner Cairo Simpson Entertainment, Cairo produced 20 made‐for‐television films in the $3,000,000 to $15,000,000 range including the acclaimed four‐hour miniseries “Elvis,” starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers for which he won a Golden Globe; the Emmy‐nominated biopic “Gleason,” the story of the TV legend; and “The Boy King,” a drama about Martin Luther King, Jr. as a child, for which Cairo worked closely with Coretta Scott King and Christine King Farris, Martin’s sister, to accurately portray the childhood influences which shaped Dr. King’s life. The motion picture was Cairo’s first, and won the George Foster Peabody, the broadcast industry’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Her other films have garnered Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, the Christopher Award, IPA Satellite Awards, and numerous Emmy nominations.
Eric Brenner – Partner/Finance
Eric Brenner has worked in media and finance since 1992. He began his career in the motion picture industry in the development department at Sandollar Productions (“Father of the Bride” “Sabrina” “IQ”). After several years he pursued a career as a musician when his band Elephant Ride signed the largest new artist deal at the time with Sony Music. His band’s debut album Forget was produced by legendary musician John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and provided Brenner the opportunity to tour the country opening for well known acts including Sheryl Crow. Mr. Brenner left the band in 1997 and returned to film production where he shepherded several projects through development and production. Among those films was the critically acclaimed documentary feature “The Freshest Kids” produced by Quincy Jones III and the independently‐produced comedy “Dirk and Betty” starring Marisa Tomei, Thomas Haden Church and Eric Roberts.
In 2002 Brenner took his knowledge of raising capital and business management and formed Global Direct Marketing Solutions, which saw immediate success as a sales and marketing company. The company grew to over 120 employees and focused on the debt, mortgage and healthcare industries. At the end of 2005 Brenner sold the assets of Global Direct to a Los Angeles-based media company. Over the past several years Brenner has raised capital and has placed private equity investors in a number of opportunities both domestically and abroad. With a focus primarily on startup and expansion funds, Brenner has successfully helped capitalize over 20 businesses since 2005.
In 2008, Brenner partnered with Michael A. Simpson and Judy Cairo to form Informant Media, where he structures finance for the company. He was instrumental in the financing for the films CRAZY HEART, HYSTERIA, ERASED and STUCK IN LOVE. Brenner is a graduate of Columbia University in New York City.
To strengthen and extend Informant’s production capacity, the company partners with producers on projects under the Informant banner.
Howard Meltzer – Producer Partner
Howard Meltzer has produced and directed commercials, movies and series for network and cable television, and feature films over the past 25 years. He has produced over 30 cable and network movies, three television series and several network documentaries and feature films. His films and series have won six Emmy Awards (28 Emmy Award nominations), five CableAce Awards (16 CableAce Award nominations), five Houston International Film Festival Awards (five nominations), three Humanitas Awards (four nominations), five Cine Golden Eagle Awards (five nominations), two Golden Globe Awards, four Angel Awards, the SAG Award for best ensemble cast in a television series, and many other awards including the Environmental Media Award, the GLAAD Award and the Christopher Award.
Some of his films include the feature film “Tenderness,” starring Russell Crowe and Laura Dern (a 2010 Lionsgate Release), the HBO movies “Witness Protection,” starring Tom Sizemore, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Forest Whitaker (Emmy Nomination, Two Golden Globe Nominations), “The Pentagon Wars,” starring Kelsey Grammer, Cary Elwes and Olympia Dukakis (Emmy Award), “Dead Ahead – The Exxon Valdez Disaster,” starring Christopher Lloyd, John Heard, Rip Torn and Michael Murphy (Grand Award ‐ Houston International Film Festival, CINE Golden Eagle Award, Environmental Media Award) and for CBS, “Hell On Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay,” starring Shirley MacLaine, Parker Posey and Shannen Doherty.
Meltzer was an Executive Producer on ERASED and will next produce TRIGGER SWITCH for Informant Media..
Tracey Becker – Producer Partner
Tracey Becker began her career as an actress and producer in New York City, making frequent guest appearances on networks like A&E, Comedy Central and Showtime. Tracey launched Birnam Wood, a theater and film production company dedicated to developing works by new and established writers like Murray Schisgal, Christopher Durang, Ron McLarty. She produced the highly successful Off-Broadway run of Doris Davis’ “Summer Share,” which NBC TVs Jeffery Lyons called “Must-See Theater!” She partnered with Dustin Hoffman to develop the one-hour TV drama pilot “44 Wall.”
Becker optioned Allan Knee’s play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan” and developed the screenplay “Finding Neverland” with writer David Magee. Partnering with Richard Gladstein, Tracey co-produced the film for Miramax, which starred Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, with Marc Forster directing. “Finding Neverland” was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, winning for Best Score, in addition to winning the National Board of Review’s Best Picture honor.
Becker developed a series of short films for “Glamour” Magazine, featuring the directing debuts of Jennifer Aniston and Bryce Dallas Howard.
She produced HYSTERIA, a romantic comedy set in Victorian England, directed by Tanya Wexler and starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Rupert Everett, Jonathan Pryce and Felicity Jones. The film premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and was released by Sony Pictures Classics in 2012.
Tracey will next produce THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR for Informant Media from a script by William Boyd (“Chaplin”). Becker sits on the Board of Directors for the New Hampshire Film Festival.