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Duncan Sullivan | SHOOT New Directors Showcase Event
Duncan Sullivan

Brothers of Climbing

Duncan Sullivan

Cause+Effect Productions

1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
The first professional project I directed was a branded content documentary film titled Brothers of Climbing for REI Coop. The film was released in February 2017.

2) How did you get into directing? 
After spending several years working my way up through the camera department from AC to operator and eventually DP, I always knew in the back of my mind that I ultimately wanted to direct. I came to realize that I had stories I needed to tell, and no one else was going do the work for me. So, about 2 years ago I decided to fully pursue my own directing projects. From short films to commercial specs, I did everything I could to produce the highest caliber of work by combining beautiful cinematography with documentary style storytelling.

3) What is your most recent project? 
I just returned from shooting my second short documentary film focused on a professional rock climber based in Spain. The story centers around a specific climbing area in Spain, and it’s history which is largely tied to one man.

4) What is the best part of being a director? 
The best part of being a director is having the ability to use film as a vehicle to stories about the issues that I find important for the world to better understand.

5) What is the worst part of being a director? 
The worst part of being a director is how difficult the process can be to find interest and funding for your own passion projects.

6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
My current career focus is the intersection of branded content, commercials, and documentary film. I believe that documentary work in general is having a golden moment, as there are more and more ways to tell authentic and important stories about our world and make a living doing so. Ultimately, I would love to continue making short and long form documentary content, in addition to docu-style commercials.

7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you? 
I’ve had many mentors throughout the years, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned from them is the motivation and discipline to produce your own work. If you have a desire to tell a story, no one will do it for you, you have to be the driving force behind a project from start to finish, and learning how to really commit yourself fully to any project is an incredibly important lesson for everyone to learn.

8) Who is your favorite director and why? 
At the moment, Brian McGinn is one of my favorite directors because of his outstanding use of cinematography and documentary style story telling that brings an unparalleled sense of authenticity and beauty to his work.

9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Favorite movie – Oceans 11 / Favorite current TV series – Chef’s Table / Favorite Branded Content – YETI “My Old Man”

10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 
I grew up half my life outside Philadelphia and the other half in the mountains of New Hampshire. As a kid I would snowboard, rock climb, bicycle and hike – I loved the outdoors, which ultimately led me to pursuing photography in college, and then film after that. I’ve lived in NYC now for almost 6 years, working as a freelance PA,AC,DP and now Director – in that order.


Jason Zemlicka, Cause+Effect Productions

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