Senain Kheshgi (The Diplomat) and advertising industry veteran Jonathon Ker are launching a Los Angeles-based production company to create opportunities for women directors in both the commercial production industry (where only 10% of directors are female) and for independent production. The new company, Majority, will provide a platform for both established and ascending women directors in commercial, music video, and branded spaces “while developing their voices as independent filmmakers working on their own projects.”
The venture had its inception at M&C Saatchi LA, where Executive Creative Director Maria Smith has collaborated with Ker on productions for clients that include BMW, UGG, Pacific Life and the San Diego Zoo.
While the new production company is backed by M&C Saatchi LA, it will operate as its own agency-agnostic entity, with the ability to develop more relationships brands and ad agencies. The venture is “an Institute Associate of Sundance Institute,” according to the company. They will unveil its inaugural roster of directors following the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
The goal, says Kheshgi and Ker, is “to address gender disparity within the commercial industry and create a new pipeline to expand creative opportunities for women directors.”
Through this official collaboration with Sundance Institute, the production company looks to support the Women at Sundance program to expand opportunities for women filmmakers working in the independent film arena. In 2019, the company plans to launch a creative lab for emerging women directorial talent to hone and strengthen their professional development. The goal of these programs is to provide enhanced access to resources and commercial spaces that have been difficult for women to break into.
“We saw this as an opportunity to create a space for women directors to speak directly to consumers through their work and artistry,” said Partner and Managing Director, Kheshgi.
“As the leader of the creative team in charge of hiring directorial talent, I’ve seen first-hand the disparity that exists in the ad industry,” said Maria Smith. “Majority was born out of a need. As advertisers, we can and need to do more to create an industry that’s inclusive and geared toward helping talent succeed. I’m excited to see all of our worlds come together to do this in a way the industry has never seen before.”
“One of my strengths has been convincing agencies and clients to believe in the filmmaking capabilities of young and up and coming directors. Over the years, I have become increasingly frustrated with the imbalance and lack of opportunity in our industry for female directors,” said Ker, who is also a partner and executive producer at the new company. “Senain is a talented director that I have worked with on several projects. I saw in her a passion for her community of independent filmmakers, and a deep connection with supporting other directors. I knew immediately that we could bring our two worlds together to develop and support women storytellers to create a new kind of woman driven production company.”
Ker’s endeavors span the course of two decades and include collaborations with Coca-Cola, AMEX, Nike, U2, Michael Jackson, Eminem, HBO, VH1 and the Coppolas.
Kheshgi is a three-time Sundance Fellow, a two-time Tribeca All Access Fellow and the recipient of a Rockefeller/Media Arts Fellow. A Peabody-award winning director and producer, her feature documentary, The Diplomat (ESPN) was nominated for three Sports Emmys. She also made the award-winning Project Kashmir (Independent Lens) and directed the comedic series, Divas of Karachi, for Indie Lens StoryCast. Kheshgi’s commercial credits include Here Be Dragons (formerly Vrse) for Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, and Save the Children and La Musica Habana, which was commissioned by The Annenberg Center for Photography in Beverly Hills as part of Pacific Standard Times “Cuba Is” exhibit at The Annenberg Center for Photography.