The life of intrepid film producer and entrepreneur Jeff Deverett, a Carmel Valley resident, reads like a blockbuster movie script. Growing up with an identical twin brother, Larry, made it tough to have a sense of individuality. Deverett, however, always dreamed of producing movies, particularly family-oriented, independent ones, and sharing meaningful and wholesome messages with the world.
The standing joke among Deverett’s buddies is that when Jeff makes a film, everyone knows how it’s going to end — with a satisfying and positive resolution. He recalls having a heart-to-heart with his dad when planning his future career. Deverett senior advised young Jeff that he should follow his passion and do what he wants to – as long as he goes to law school first. After accepting his father’s suggestion, and graduating in 1985 from the “Harvard of the North,” Osgoode Hall Law School), the neophyte filmmaker landed in his industry of choice with a Toronto-based company called Astral Communications as Vice President of Independent Film Distribution. There, he earned his stripes by learning all facets of the independent film industry.
Currently he is President and CEO of Deverett Media Group, a film and TV production and distribution company located in San Diego. The filmmaker owes the life-changing move to his wife.
“Debra said she would divorce me if she had to spend one more winter in Canada. I did simple math, and figured that a move would be cheaper than a divorce,” jokes Deverett. San Diego also fit the bill for climate, lifestyle, and an ideal environment to raise their boys.
So far, his industry accomplishments include several family movies in worldwide distribution through Netflix, on which he acted as executive producer. Full Out is a true story of courage and optimism when a 14-year-old San Diegan gymnast named Ariana Berlin missed her chance at the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing because of a debilitating car accident. Through persistence and sheer grit, she made a miraculous comeback to pursue her dream. In My Brother’s Keeper, identical twins plan on competing in the National Rowing Championships. When one twin decides to follow a path toward an Ivy League future, the brotherly bond is shattered. Deverett’s latest oeuvre titled, Kiss and Cry, with a premier screening at the UltraStar Mission Valley Hazard Center on Feb. 23, will be debuting on Netflix in April this year.
Spoiler alert: This is a true story and a weeper about an accomplished Canadian figure skater, singer and songwriter named Carley Allison, whose dreams and aspirations are dashed as she battles an extremely rare form of tracheal cancer, with only a few cases diagnosed in the world. Carley’s role is played by her real life best friend Sarah Fisher to share her positive energy and inspirational message: “Always smile, despite the avalanche of adversities that are dealt to you.” Carley mustered her fierce competitive spirit against her toughest nemesis – cancer – giving us all a lesson in courage, grace and dignity.
Several common threads run through these stories – extreme hardships hindering competitive passions yet handled with emotional strength and persistence. Deverett gravitates towards this message that gives people the inspiration to deal with the challenges in their own lives. He also frequently incorporates a sports theme in his body of films. As Deverett explains, “Sports resonates with people, and it’s easy to tell a story through this common thread.”
Beyond the movie set Deverett shares his verve and expertise by lecturing for several organizations, including the San Diego Filmmakers, San Diego Sports & Entertainment Lawyers, and the San Diego Film Consortium, where he recently conducted a presentation on finance and distribution.
A one-person show, Deverett is currently working on producing independent movies in San Diego, and trying to enhance the local film business, that is in its infancy here. “San Diego is the perfect venue to make independent movies, and I’m hoping to be able to facilitate a more robust, local, film-friendly industry that will inspire and employ lots of young, budding, enthusiastic filmmakers,” says Deverett.