EXCLUSIVE: Best Picture nominated Lion producers and See-Saw Films managing directors Iain Canning and Emile Sherman have opened their first Los Angeles office and appointed Negin Salmasi to run it. She will be Vice President of Creative Affairs and will oversee development of U.S.-based film and TV projects alongside the company’s UK and Australian offices. Salmasi joins See-Saw from Pascal Pictures where she was a development executive for Amy Pascal’s Sony-based company and worked on such projects as the David Scarpa-scripted adaptation of the Stacy Schiff book Cleopatra, the Terence Winter-scripted Warhol that has Jared Leto attached, and the Lisa Hilton novel Maestra which was adapted by Erin Cressida Wilson.
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“It’s clear that Negin is an extremely talented creative executive with wonderful talent relationships and a deep understanding of quality material,” Canning and Sherman said. “Negin is the perfect person to spearhead our US presence as part of what is now a truly international production company.”
See-Saw, which produced Best Picture winner The King’s Speech, has upcoming the Rooney Mara-Joaquin Phoenix-starrer Mary Magdalene, and two that premiered at Cannes: the John Cameron Mitchell-directed How To Talk To Girls At Parties with Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman, and Jane Campion’s TV series Top of the Lake: China Girl. The company is also producing the Steve McQueen-directed Widows, reuniting with the filmmaker after Shame. Clearly, the company is finding taste making material from its London and Australian outposts, but Canning told Deadline it felt like a good time for See-Saw to broaden its horizons.
“Negin is our first U.S. hire, and after Lion, it felt like the right time,” Canning said. “For us it’s all about finding more unique stories we can develop with great filmmakers and actors. Negin seemed the right fit to help us become a truly international company.” Canning said that locating stories like Lion is elusive. They first heard about the unusual story while at Sundance a few years ago, and Sherman went back to Australia to tie down rights, beating a stampede of producers. “You never know where the next great fact based or fiction idea is going to come from, and this was a matter of geography; being in proximity to agencies and writers can only help,” he said.
Said Salmasi: “I have always been so impressed by Iain and Emile’s exceptional taste, flawless reputation, and desire to take on ambitious projects, winning the hearts of international audiences as well as critical acclaim on top of it all. To be welcomed into this next phase of growth is truly exciting.” Salmasi started at WME working for international department head Jerome Duboz before moving to Fox Searchlight and working in WW acquisitions under Tony Safford, and then at Sidney Kimmel Entertainment for production president Carla Hacken.
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