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Ilanna Barkusky | SHOOT New Directors Showcase Event
Ilanna Barkusky

Parity’s “Speed of Light” (promo video)

Ilanna Barkusky

Cultivate Media


What was your first professionally directed work and when was it? 
In 2021, I directed an internal project for Red Bull.

How did you get into directing? 
I got into directing through my work as a photographer. The two were adjacent and it felt like the next natural step in my career. At the time, I was writing as well, and it seemed like a great way to build on both passions together.

What is your most recent project? 
I recently directed a personal project and sports anthem called “Simply Stronger,” which featured six different athletes across a variety of sports.

What is the best part of being a director?
Creating an environment of creative collaboration and teamwork is most rewarding to me. I really enjoy working with others towards a common goal, and combining our individual experience and skill for the greater good of the project. As a director, you get to meet and work with incredibly talented people during all stages of the process.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
I have been focused on commercials and branded content recently, but I am looking towards longer-form TV and movies in the future. Although most of my work has been rooted in the sports world so far, my intention is to tell stories that inspire–no matter the genre.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
It is tough to narrow it down, as I draw inspiration from various work and genres. If I were to choose my top favorite of each, I would have to say Portrait of a Lady on Fire for a movie, The Last Dance for a TV Series, and “Upstream,” the Toyota commercial with Paralympian Jessica Long as my favorite commercial.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 
I am originally from Vancouver, Canada. I grew up immersed in sports and the outdoors and started working as an action sports photographer during the years studying for my Political Science degree at university. At 26 years old, during the pandemic, I relocated to the U.S. to take the next steps forward in my career.

How has the pandemic impacted your career, art, craft, shaped your attitudes and reflections on life which in turn may influence your work, approach, spirit, mindset?
The pandemic had a profound impact on my career and life. Through the challenges it posed, I learned the importance of resilience, being resourceful and staying patient. Surprisingly, I was able to create the most significant photography series of my career during this time. To do so, I was aided by the ease of permitting empty locations in my hometown, as well as a concept that supported social distancing. Through that, I learned that opportunities and silver linings always exist, even in tough situations.


Contact Mark Thomas: mthomas@cultivate.media
Cultivate Media