Directory Profile

John Palmer, MFA

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Affiliated Divisions:

Division of Film & Television Production

John Ira Palmer is a producer and director. He is a founding partner of Projected Picture Works with Sean Penn and John Wildermuth, focused on developing and producing feature films and series.

Palmer produced ASPHALT CITY (directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire and starring two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan, Cannes 2023), as well as the upcoming feature SEPTEMBER 5 (directed by Tim Fehlbaum). Other producing credits include FLAG DAY (directed by Sean Penn and starring Dylan Penn and Sean Penn, Cannes 2021), AL IMAM (Vimeo Staff Pick, National Geographic release, winner of KCET Fine Cut’s top documentary prize), THE DARE PROJECT (directed by Adam Salky, follow-up to the beloved queer short DARE, Frameline & Outfest 2018), and CONTRA-INTERNET: JUBILEE 2033 (directed by Zach Blas, Berlin 2018). Palmer served as a production executive for Projected Picture Works titles including SUPERPOWER (documentary about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the War in Ukraine, Berlin 2023) and DADDIO (directed by Christy Hall and starring Dakota Johnson and Sean Penn, Toronto 2023).

As a director, Palmer’s most recent project is the Outfest 2023 Audience Award winner OUT OF THE CORNER OF OUR EYE, funded by National Endowment for the Arts and commissioned by SCI-Arc Channel for their Queer Perspectives series. He also directed ELWOOD TAKES A LOVER, which screened at festivals around the world and was an official selection of The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at Cannes 2019. His experimental short films have been shown at festivals and venues such as Outfest, Frameline, REDCAT, Blum & Poe, and Pacific Film Archive.

Palmer's past fellowships and residencies include Film at Lincoln Center’s Artist Academy, Echo Park Film Center’s LA AIR program, and AICAD’s New York Studio Program, and awards include the ARRI Emerging Filmmaker Grant, the James Broughton Film Award, and a Princess Grace Award. He has also curated film series and programs for American Cinematheque, Echo Park Film Center, and San Francisco Art Institute, and as a consultant for Sundance’s Documentary Film Program and Concordia Studio has helped identify the next generation of documentary filmmakers. Palmer earned his MFA in Film & Television Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and his BFA in Fine Arts at San Francisco Art Institute. Before attending USC, he spent nearly ten years as an executive and producer at entertainment-focused creative agencies, heading up marketing campaigns for film and television titles from the major studios and networks.

Outside of filmmaking, Palmer regularly engages in community-based service. He served as Chief of Staff at CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) throughout its response to the Covid-19 pandemic–which included offering vaccines, testing, tracing, and wraparound services throughout the United States and Navajo Nation, as well as Brazil, India, and Haiti–and during its crucial initial months on the ground in Ukraine, Poland, and Romania offering shelter, resources, and services to refugees and those displaced within Ukraine. While a student at USC, Palmer co-founded the Our Voices speaker series as part of the School of Cinematic Arts’ Diversity & Inclusion initiative with inaugural lineup speakers including John Singleton, Cheryl Boone-Isaacs, and Andrew Ahn. For over a decade, Palmer also volunteered as a crisis counselor and training mentor for The Trevor Project, dedicated to suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ+ youth.