About Us

Initiate Productions was formed in 1998 to develop and produce multi-genre films in house, and to collaborate with other co-producing entities.

The principle goal is to create a bold new approach to independent filmmaking and resource established and emerging media outlets.

 While we never shy away from exploring new talent and pushing the boundaries of creativity, were also supporting the creative endeavors of the talented people we have worked with in the past.   


Ken Johnson


A native of Southern California, Ken developed a passion for acting in his youth and enjoyed a successful career in episodic television. Ken was a highly profiled model in national campaigns including, “Bugle Boy,” “The Gap,” “Versace,” “Caboo Club” and “Yukon.” Aside from his evolving work in the entertainment industry, Ken follows his daughter’s equestrian show jumping career and for some years was internationally renowned for restoring vintage and classic cars, in 2006, winning the coveted Pebble Beach ‘first in class’ Concourse del Elegance. In 2000, Ken began financing and developing films including the short western, “The Last Outlaws,” which screened in the festival circuit. In early 2008, Ken met the Polish brothers and realized that their unique cinematic voice and critically acclaimed filmmaking style matched his desire to produce feature length films, together, they formed Prohibition Pictures. Ken was on set daily throughout production of the company’s first two projects, the surreal comedy “Manure,” and the coming of age, “Stay Cool.” Ken appeared as an actor in both films, enhancing his more than twenty-year performance career aside from serving above the line as Executive Producer. “Manure” was accepted into the 2009 Sundance festival. Ken formed Initiate Productions in 1998 to develop and produce multi-genre films in house, and to collaborate with other co-producing entities. The principle goal is to create a bold new approach to filmmaking and resource established and emerging media outlets.  

John Hermansen


  John Hermansen has produced over 250 episodes of television and six feature length motion pictures. He began working in production and as an assistant director on such notable studio films as Con Air, The Crucible, Almost Heroes, Waiting for Guffman, Home for the Holidays, as well as working with directors Tim Burton, Jodi Foster, Peter Yates, Barry Levinson, Christopher Guest, and James Cameron, leading to him becoming one of the youngest members to be accepted into the Director’s Guild of America. In 1999, John went on to Executive Produce, among others, MTV’s #1 hit show Taildaters (over 130 episodes), MTV’s Burned, GSN’s Vegas Weddings Unveiled, The Style Networks’ Ultimatum, VH1’s Love Songs. From 2005-2008 John worked in production and ran the low budget division at the Yari Film Group overseeing production and development for the division. John has produced such notable feature films such as Poolhall Junkies, starring Christopher Walken, Chazz Palminteri and Rod Steiger, Kickin’ It Old Skool, starring Jamie Kennedy, Gray Matters starring Heather Graham, Bridget Moynahan, Tom Cavanaugh, and Sissy Spacek and What Love Is starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Matthew Lillard, Gina Gershon, Anne Heche and Sean Astin. In 2008, Hermansen produced the feature film Revenge of the Zeroes starring John Goodman and Jamie Kennedy. John currently resides in Los Angeles, Ca. with his wife and two children.  

Nick Byassee


  Nick is a graduate of The University of Tennessee. A natural entrepreneur, Nick excelled in the worlds of advertising, marketing and start-up companies. His award winning design work in the carpet industry was featured in “Architectural Digest” and “Floor Covering Today”. Nick’s childhood passion for horsemanship has evolved into a lifelong expertise. A master Equestrian, he is currently President of Creative Saddlery and was a board member of Dominion Saddlery and US Equestrian. The international world of equestrian events led to encounter producer and fellow entrepreneur, Ken Johnson, which was a serendipitous meeting for the two emerging filmmakers. In 2007, Nick teamed with producer Ken Johnson to form Prohibition Pictures with writer/directors Mark and Mike Polish. The team produced the comedies, “Manure” – accepted in the 2009 Sundance festival and Stay Cool. Byassee and Johnson’s shingle Initiate Productions develops and produces multi-genre projects in-house as well in collaboration with other producing entities. The principle goal is to create a bold new approach to filmmaking for media outlets. Nick supports several charities, including the Equestrian Aid Foundation and is a dedicated mentor to those battling substance abuse issues.  

Victoria Kay


  Victoria has been in the entertainment industry since childhood and has been featured in independent films, music videos, and commercial prints. She began working in production in 2007 and since then has had the pleasure of working with the likes of Hilary Duff, Tea Leoni, Ed Helms, and Billy Bob Thornton. Victoria participated in the Initiate Productions Internship Program located in Los Angeles in the summer of 2010. Since then she has been an independent social media contractor for companies like Mudflower Productions, Wildlife Works, and Audi. After completing her undergraduate degree at California Lutheran University, she became a full time member of the Initiate Productions team. In 2014, Victoria spear headed the Social Media division of the company by taking on the responsibility of social networking for previous films as well as for future projects such as “Wild For The Night” & “The Ticket”— scheduled to premier at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Victoria expanded into the television industry last year and is using her photography skills on the set of “Four Kings”, an exciting TV collaboration with John Hermansen and Mars Callahan. She has recently taken on the roles of Social Media Manager and Still Photographer for all current and upcoming projects.  

Lori Levin


  LORI LEVIN (Executive Producer) Lori’s unique career has blended entertainment, marketing, and public relations.  Starting in the music industry (she discovered and managed Marc Anthony when he was just 14) she went on the road with rock legends Kiss, managed Jocelyn Brown and various other artists.  It was no surprise that that when Richard Branson launched his “Rock and Roll” airline Virgin Atlantic, that Lori became part of the Virgin management team and began her amazing professional journey.  As Vice President of Virgin Corporate communications for the Virgin Group of Companies she was Richard Branson’s “go-to executive” for over 20 years, Lori was largely responsible for establishing the Virgin brand and making Sir Richard Branson a household name.  She led her team to create “guerilla marketing” tactics that have become standard marketing techniques today.  In addition to day to day duties as VP of Communications, Lori was the Creator and Executive Producer of The Rebel Billionaire, a globally-aired Fox primetime reality series starring Sir Richard Branson, which averaged 7 million viewers a week in the US alone.  She has been awarded “Brand Builder of the Year 2007” by Promax DBA and Broadcast and Cable News.  Lori has been a consultant for the Initiate Productions since 2009 and has come on full time opening our NY office in July of 2016.  

Mary Tapa


Mary began her career in entertainment as a theatrical stage manager over 25 years ago.   In 2006, she became one of the founding members and the executive producer of Off Broadway West Theatre Company in San Francisco.  Since returning to Los Angeles in 2010, she has established herself as a business manager, business consultant and bookkeeper with a clientele that includes Producers, Directors, Actors, and Crew Members.  She began her work in production accounting in 2012 with Transition Entertainment on a project for Disney entitled Game On.  Her most recent production accounting project is The DeGentlemen Show.  Mary began working with Initiate Productions in 2015, utilizing her many talents acting as a business consultant and bookkeeper, as well as production accounting.