Girl Culture Films Adds Dawn Porter, Rylee Jean Ebsen, Duo of Jackie Van Beek & Madeleine Sami To Its Spot Roster
Dawn Porter (photo courtesy of Girl Culture Films)
  • VENICE, Calif.
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Girl Culture Films--founded by creative director Lauren Greenfield and president Frank Evers--has signed award-winning documentary filmmaker Dawn Porter (John Lewis: Good Trouble, The Way I See It), comedy directing duo Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami (The Breaker Uppers), and former Snapchat creative exec Rylee Jean Ebsen for commercial representation. The four directors join an ever-expanding roster of A-list artists represented by Girl Culture, including Karyn Kusama, Catherine Hardwicke, Heidi Ewing and Barbara Kopple.

Greenfield cited Porter’s documentary work as “a timely reminder of our greatest ideals and values.” Relative to the team of van Beek and Sami, Greenfield observed their talent will help a commercial comedy world that “suffers from a lack of female voices.” Greenfield added that Ebsen, having made a name for herself in the male-run technology world during the founding years of Snapchat, “is a pioneer of mobile content and augmented reality who brings a lighthearted, tech-savvy sensibility to commercial storytelling.”

To celebrate the work of Porter, van Beek, Sami and other Girl Culture directors, the company will host a weekly virtual screening series for the advertising and creative community through the end of the year, which will feature post-screening conversations and Q&As with the directors led by Greenfield. The series kicks off October 14 with a screening of John Lewis: Good Trouble followed by a Q&A with director Porter. Others in the series include recent MacArthur Genius Award winner Nanfu Wang who helmed One Child Nation, Lana Wilson’s Miss Americana, Marina Zenovich’s Lance and Yance Ford’s Strong Island.

“We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our dynamic filmmakers than with the Girl Culture Film Series 2020, sharing some of the year’s best work and the talent behind it with the creative advertisement community,” Greenfield said. “It makes no sense that over 90% of the world’s commercials are directed by men, when almost 90% of the buying decisions in the world are made by women.”

Dawn Porter
Porter is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has appeared on HBO, PBS, Discovery, and Netflix among others.  She is currently directing and executive producing an Apple TV multi-part documentary series with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry, which focuses on both mental illness and mental well-being. Porter’s other current projects include the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble for CNN Films, which explores late Congressman John Lewis’ pivotal role in the Civil Rights movement and decades of political and social activism on important issues including voting rights, immigration laws, and much more; and The Way I See It, about photojournalist Pete Souza, who served as chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama and President Ronald Reagan.

Her 2013 documentary Gideon’s Army premiered on HBO and won best editing at Sundance. Gideon’s Army was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy and is part of the U.S. Department of State’s American Film Showcase. Porter has been commissioned to create films for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Time and Essence Magazines, The New York Times Op Docs, and Amazon. She is an active member of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Television Academy. Her work has received generous support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Film Institute, Chicken & Egg Pictures and other esteemed organizations.

Jackie van Beek
Film and television director, writer, and actress van Beek was born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand. She attended both Onslow College and Victoria University of Wellington. Her career in the industry began in theatre as a devising actor. After writing and directing a collection of short films, she went on to make her first feature film The Inland Road (2017) and then co-directed and co-starred with Sami in their feature film, The Breaker Uppers (2018). She co-created the hit NZ TV series Educators (2019) with comedians Jonny Brugh and Jesse Griffin, and directed on Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s television spin offs, Wellington Paranormal (2018, NZ) and What We Do In The Shadows (2019, US). 

Madeleine Sami
Sami was born and raised in New Zealand where she attended Onehunga High School. She started her career as a teenager in the theatre touring numerous shows and garnering praise across the globe for her virtuoso performances. Sami then shifted her acting skills, gaining much experience and attention, from starring in some of New Zealand’s most successful films and television. Sami began her directorial debut by creating, writing, and starring in two seasons of TV show Super City (2011-2013) directed by Waititi. Since then, Sami has directed two seasons of female driven sketch comedy show Funny Girls (2016-2018). Most recently she co-wrote/directed/starred, with van Beek, in The Breaker Uppers (2018). Currently, Sami and van Beek are working with Aggregate Films on the Netflix rom-com Hope and a film spinoff of her TV show Super City. Sami and van Beek were named TimeOut NZ Entertainers of the Year, 2018.

Rylee Jean Ebsen
Ebsen is a Telly Award winning, Forbes 30 under 30: Marketing & Advertising (Class of 2020), comedy director who has worked with numerous high-profile actors, personalities, and comedians including Seth McFarland, Ben Schwartz, Tom Felton, Nicholas Braun, Brittany Snow, and Doris Burke. She has directed short films, sketches, documentaries, commercials and branded content for some of the world’s largest brands, including Disney, Facebook, ESPN, State Farm, Kelloggs, Zillow and Snapchat. 

Previously, Ebsen was a creative executive at Snapchat for several years (starting when the company was less than a dozen people), directing content and guiding the creative evolution of Snap from a startup to multibillion-dollar public company. While at Snap, she directed spots for their biggest product launches and oversaw content for Snapchat, Bitmoji, Spectacles, and Lens Studio. She’s been asked to speak at companies, conferences, and schools all over the world (including Facebook HQ, Promax, & NYU). In March 2020, she shared the stage with Alma Har’el at Disney’s HQ for the “Brave Global Marketing Series.” Storytelling is in the director’s DNA, she’s the granddaughter of Hollywood actor Buddy Ebsen and comedian/advertising creative director Stan Freberg.


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