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John Palmer

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, created with industry veterans Sean Penn and John Wildermuth and focused on developing and producing feature films and series.

John co-produced the feature film FLAG DAY, directed by two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn and starring Dylan Penn and Sean Penn, which premiered in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and was released by MGM/United Artists. He is currently a producer for the upcoming feature BLACK FLIES, directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire and starring Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan. John also produced the documentary AL IMAM (a Vimeo Staff Pick, released by National Geographic, and winner of KCET Fine Cut’s top prize), co-produced THE DARE PROJECT (directed by Adam Salky, the follow-up to the beloved queer short DARE, premiered at Frameline and went on to play Outfest and other major LGBTQ+ festivals), and was associate producer for CONTRA-INTERNET: JUBILEE 2033 (directed by Zach Blas, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival).

As a director, John’s most recent project is 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 the short film ELWOOD TAKES A LOVER, which screened at festivals around the world and was an official selection of The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. His experimental 16mm and super-8 short films have screened at venues such as REDCAT, Blum & Poe, and Pacific Film Archive.

In 2016, John was honored as an Artist Academy fellow by Film at Lincoln Center at the New York Film Festival. He has 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, he has helped identify the next generation of documentary filmmakers. Past artist residencies include 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 Foundation Film Honorarium. John 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 a marketing executive and producer at entertainment-focused creative agencies, heading up campaigns for film and television titles from the major studios and networks.

Outside of filmmaking, John's commitment to community-based service has been a lifelong passion. He served as Chief of Staff to Sean Penn 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, John co-founded the Our Voices speaker series as part of the School of Cinematic Arts’ Diversity & Inclusion initiative. The inaugural lineup of speakers included John Singleton, Cheryl Boone-Isaacs, and Andrew Ahn. For over a decade, John also volunteered as a crisis counselor and training mentor for The Trevor Project, dedicated to suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ+ youth.