Reel Women: Lisa Effress, Managing Partner 11 Dollar Bill

Reel Women

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready.

A highly accomplished Agency Executive Producer, Lisa spent nearly two decades at such shops as Crispin Porter + Bogusky, TBWA Chiat/Day, Peterson Milla Hooks, The Climate Reality Project and Intel’s “Agency Inside,” shaping scores of multi-million dollar productions as well as plenty of astonishingly scrappy ones.  Her production experience extends to global brands like Visa, Gatorade, Play Station, GAP, Windows Phone, Microsoft, Hulu, Intel, Al Gore’s Climate Reality, Target and Kraft. 

Lisa brings a boundless enthusiasm and relentless approach to producing that has long made her an agency favorite industry-wide. 

Her vast experience and resourcefulness allow her to serve as Head of Production and/or  Producer on film projects and ad campaigns alike, and has brought her to her current position as Managing Partner of the full-service, award-winning post production facility, 11 Dollar Bill, with offices in LA, Chicago and Boulder.

Shooting on location in Poland

Lisa’s diverse set of skills includes not only production but business affairs, talent negotiations and third- party asset licensing for TV, digital, out-of-home, print and experiential work for global brands and their agencies.

Smokeable “I Invented It” – 11 Dollar Bill

When not producing, she spends every available minute with her husband and eight-year-old daughter skiing, hiking, antiquing, exploring and listening to music. They also bring their dog, Archie, along with them whenever possible. 

What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
 I know it’s a bit of a cliché but I actually dreamed of being an astronaut when I was young. But, when I topped out at 4’11” it became super clear that I wouldn’t come close to passing the height requirement. So, I went on to become a producer.

How did you get into the film industry?
It was not something I planned from an early age but ultimately it became an easy choice. It just so happened that my older brother was in the film industry and living in LA when I was still in college in Minneapolis.  He learned about a job that was shooting in the Twin Cities and asked if I wanted to be a P.A. I said yes and the next thing I knew, I was picking up Mickey Mantle at the airport and working on a major film production.

To be honest, I loved everything about production… the process, the creativity, the crazy long hours, the celebs I came in contact with, the idea of being part of something big. And I knew from that first experience that I would pursue a career in film. From there, I ended up at a local NBC affiliate and then into a fantastic series of ad agency production jobs, using storytelling to help build brands.

Who were your mentors?
My first mentor was my brother.  His experience in film and Editing was always and inspiration to me, so it made sense that I would follow in his footsteps. He has always been an adventurer, and that’s how I look at production. Every job is a new opportunity, or a quest. I think looking at production that way has helped me navigate through my career, channel my passion and make some great choices.  

And my work mentor was Gary Tassone. He was my boss at my first big agency job (Peterson Mill Hooks), and he was committed to my development and growth as a Producer. He really trusted me which gave me confidence and when I made mistakes, he was honest and helpful with his feedback.  He was also quite hard on me at times, which made me want to do better and learn more. From day one, he saw that I was coachable- and for that I will always be grateful.

What is your greatest achievement?
My biggest achievement would have to be giving birth to my daughter. I was approaching 41 at the time which felt pretty old to me and I was worried I wouldn’t have enough energy to raise a child. So, I was very fearful of how things would turn out. But she has turned out to be such an incredible blessing and my husband, Tim, is so supportive. Now, our girl is 8 and I can honestly say she’s the best thing I ever produced.

What is your biggest disappointment?
I’d say my biggest disappointment is that I didn’t take school seriously enough when I was young. I wish I had gone away for college rather than play it safe and stay in my hometown.  A good education cannot be understated and that life experience would have been so valuable. Even though the University of Minnesota did provide me with quite a bit, I always wonder what my life would have been like had I taken a chance and gone somewhere else. 


What are your biggest pet peeves? 
I was raised to know the value of a dollar, to work hard and do good for people. I find it disconcerting when I see some young people take affluence and opportunity for granted. That sense of entitlement so early in their careers can be off-putting. Also, I hate to see a waste of potential talent. If only everyone knew how to balance innate talent with the hard work that must go with it.

What are your predictions for the film industry over the next decade?
I think it goes without say that technology will continue to help evolve the industry. But it shouldn’t become a crutch. Technology is a tool, not an idea unto itself. Advertisers and filmmakers should concentrate on how to use those advanced tools to enhance storytelling and make it more immersive but not let it eclipse the stories themselves. I suspect we’ll continue to see some of both in the years to come.

Name a job you had that would surprise people.
I was a bill collector for a few years right after college and while I was trying to land a fulltime job in film. I am honest to a fault sometimes, but not confrontational. So, you’d think calling people and asking for money would be challenging for me. But actually, I turned out to be quite good at it through a combination of that honesty and diplomacy. Not easy, but surprisingly rewarding. 

Who plays you in your life story?
Oh my gosh, this is a hard one. My husband Tim tells me I kind of look like Evangeline Lilly but have the personality of Marisa Tomei. So, I suppose I’d go with the latter. 

What do you wish you had more time to do?
I wish I had more time to relax on the couch with my feet up and watch movies with my husband. He’s such a huge fan and it can be really contagious.

Do you talk to yourself?
Not really. But I do run conversations through my head both before and after they occur and occasionally a phrase will leak out. My husband tells me I do blurt out amazingly lucid phrases in my sleep, too. They never make sense but apparently I sound totally wide awake. 

What inspires you to be creative?
Many things inspire me to be creative.  My daughter does because while she’s only 8, she is incredibly imaginative and creative herself and literally has no edit button. I honestly just want to keep up with her and maybe inspire her in the same ways she inspires me.  

Philanthropy and volunteer work also inspire me to be creative. I am a big believer in giving back and when I can be part of a great cause it always gets my creative juices flowing both at work and at home.

But my biggest inspiration is my husband, Tim. He is the most talented and creative person I’ve ever known. He exhibits such a terrific combination of creativity and intelligence, that I learn so much from him every day on so many things. Frankly, every minute we spend together is super inspiring!