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‘Ascension’ Producer XTR Taps Abazar Khayami as Head of Studio

The veteran producer will optimize in-house production at the nonfiction studio

XTR, the global nonfiction entertainment studio behind the Oscar-nominated documentary “Ascension,” has hired Abazar Khayami as head of studio.

Khayami, who previously served as head of content at NTWRK, will oversee feature documentaries including development, production and execution and shepherd the dozens of films already in the company’s pipeline, the studio said Wednesday.

“We are thrilled that Abazar has come on to lead XTR’s production studio during a moment of tremendous growth for the company,” said Kathryn Everett, XTR co-founder and head of film. “We have a shared vision that draws on Abazar’s leadership and experience in the commercial and narrative worlds. With him at the helm, our production services team is going to be the best in the business.

“In my 15 years in the industry, I’ve never seen a bigger moment for nonfiction,” Khayami said in a statement shared with TheWrap. “XTR shares my vision for a better documentary industry, one that creates real business for filmmakers, both experienced and emerging. XTR is at the forefront of the documentary revolution and I’m so excited to build out production as Head of Studio.”

XTR premiered six documentaries at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, including “The Territory” by Darren Aronofsky, which was acquired by National Geographic, and “Free Chol Soo Lee” from Julie Ha and Eugene Yi, which went to MUBI with a U.S. theatrical distribution set for later this year. Since 2019, XTR has produced and financed over 80 documentary features and series including “They Call Me Magic,” the upcoming Magic Johnson docuseries on Apple TV+. 

At NTWRK, Khayami established the company’s content strategy, workflows, and best practices, working with prominent musicians including Billie Eilish and Juice WRLD. He also served as an Executive Producer at Spotify, where he oversaw video content strategy and development of the podcast division.  Before that, he spent five years at Vice Media, where his notable projects included collaborations with former President Barack Obama, directors Spike Jonze and Jonas Akerlund, and mountain climber Jimmy Chin.

At XTR, Khayami will also oversee the creation of original content for DOCUMENTARY+, the studio’s global nonfiction streaming platform for award-winning documentaries.