Setting the Stage for Diverse Filmmaking Talent
JP Patterson is transforming how the world’s biggest advertisers find and hire diverse directing talent by connecting new voices to industry opportunities.
Agency director/producer JP Patterson knows how to set the stage. For more than 20 years, she has been a force in the advertising industry, collaborating on Super Bowl halftime shows, creating award-winning ad campaigns, and innovating ways for brands to engage consumers with film and video.
But success didn’t come easy for JP as a woman in the ultra-competitive entertainment industry. Because of her own experiences, she wanted to advocate for underrepresented artists, to change the ways that brands, agencies, and studios hire filmmaking talent.
“I was at a point in my career where I wanted to create something meaningful in this industry,” JP says. “I had been at the mercy of biases my whole career. [I wanted to do something] aligned with my values to create industry-wide change. By bringing diverse and multicultural filmmakers into the creative process, we can play a part in driving inclusivity in storytelling, and bridging the gaps that exist between talent and opportunity.”
In 2021, JP Patterson founded RESIDENCE, a revolutionary artist-in-residence program at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, where she serves as Director of Film Content & Partnerships. The program selects an annual cohort of 12 talented directors from underrepresented groups and provides them with career development workshops, collaborative professional partnerships, and opportunities to work with the agency’s clients. The program’s goal: to amplify the voices of talented new directors by breaking down many of the prejudicial biases inherent in the entertainment industry.
“There are a lot of shortcomings in the way that Hollywood works,” JP explains. “I wanted to connect our clients with diverse perspectives, because I believe that brands have a responsibility to tell stories that are more representative of the communities we live in.”
RESIDENCE brought together its first cohort of diverse filmmakers in June 2022. The 15-week curriculum combines skills and career development, introducing participants to producers working in emerging storytelling trends and technologies. It also connects the young filmmakers with paying clients. “We’re actually representing them for real paid work,” JP says. “That’s what’s so powerful about RESIDENCE. It’s something really close to my heart.”
JP was inspired to develop RESIDENCE while participating in the Stanford LEAD online business program. In addition to learning career-building leadership skills, JP discovered that her passions and values — when properly focused — can change the world.
“The Innovation Playbook and the Creating a Life of Consequence courses made me ask how I want to be spending my time,” JP recalls. “What are my values? What lights me up and gets me excited? I wanted to give back, and the LEAD program was the catalyst for me thinking like a true leader.”
Graduates of the first RESIDENCE program say it has been a life-changing experience. “JP is looking to help make changes with the relationship that directors have with agencies, such as getting them involved earlier in the creative process and ensuring they are treated fairly with their time,” says Taylor Garrett, a LatinX filmmaker and RESIDENCE graduate. “She really is seeking to shake up industry standards in the commercial space.”
This real-world work experience is invaluable for the underrepresented directors that RESIDENCE champions, giving them a foot in the door with industry decision makers, and the skills and know-how to walk through it. “I found it eye-opening to have a close encounter with the agency world,” says Kadri Koop, another RESIDENCE graduate. “I was able to sit down with seasoned agency professionals and ask them questions, collaborate on a project, and also get a better look into the inner workings of the commercial world.”
Looking to the future, JP hopes RESIDENCE will continue to champion diverse filmmakers with non-traditional perspectives, backgrounds, and voices. “With the way the digital landscape is changing, it’s really important that we connect as a community with the stories we tell,” JP says.
In January 2023, JP announced she was re-launching RESIDENCE as a certified woman-owned business — expanding the RESIDENCE program to include work placements and opportunities beyond her agency’s clients. “The time is right to maximize our impact and truly create industry-wide change beyond our walls,” JP says. “It’s a dream to steward and lead a program that empowers underrepresented talent.”