James Shani Launches Creative Studio, Rich Spirit; Banner Serves As Executive Producer For Ali Abbasi Film ‘The Apprentice’

EXCLUSIVE: Iranian-American multidisciplinary producer James Shani launches creative studio, RICH SPIRIT, which will partner with BIPOC artists and filmmakers to produce a wide range of original projects from narrative films to documentaries, music videos, donate its services to nonprofits, execute commissioned work for brands, and fund early-stage founders in the technology and media space.

Shani previously held a position at Issa Rae’s ColorCreative, where he represented writers and directors.

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By launching RICH SPIRIT, Shani is driven by independent art that converges with a conscientious global outlook, collaborating with filmmakers from different parts of the world. His mission is to support and resource artists that aim to transcend borders and resonate universally.

“Artists of all disciplines are society’s most important treasures to be supported and fostered,” shared Shani. “My main passion has always been independent cinema and I see us neglecting indie filmmakers more than ever before; these artists are struggling not only to produce their work but to also find an audience with how ‘tentpole or nothing’ distribution has become. And unlike most developed countries that support artists through government funding, grants, meaningful tax incentives, U.S. writers, filmmakers and performers — especially those from underserved communities like I came from — don’t have access to capital, resources or guidance to produce their work.”

Shani started his career while at the University of Southern California, where in 2012, he  co-founded collective, think-tank-inspired Everdream Pictures, and in 2013 made a spec-ad for TESLA that went viral and reached Elon Musk. After getting the attention of Columbia Records and Troy Carter, Shani went on to make music videos and collaborate with John Legend, Lady Gaga, Meghan Trainor, John Mayer. In film, Shani executive-produced his first feature film Gully in 2019, which was directed by Nabil. The film premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and sold to Paramount Pictures. Other productions include Niharika Desai’s Lady Gaga special The Power of Kindness, Daresha Kyi’s Mama Bears, Anya Chirkova and Omar S. Kamara’s African Giants.

Shani’s most recent project is Ali Abbasi’s The Apprentice, which will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Shani came on to produce as the film was finishing principal photography and needed additional financing. He says of the project and his work with Abbasi, “I’ve been following Ali’s work since watching his film Border in 2018 and then Holy Spider at Cannes a few years ago. His daring voice represents RICH SPIRIT in every way and is the perfect example of the type of artist I believe we need to support at all costs to experience his timely expressions.”

Shani is represented by Michelle Chang, Ramo Law.

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