Jedediah Thunell

What If

Jedediah Thunell

Sanctuary Content

1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it? 

My first professional job was for Audi in the winter of 2019

2) How did you get into directing? 

I think I started the way a lot of filmmakers do, making skate films. That led to short comedies with my friends, and then music videos for high school competitions. Eventually I learned about the opportunities for filmmaking in advertising and have been looking for ways to tell stories through film ever since.

3) What is your most recent project? 

As we all do, I have a few things in the works. A short and a branded content piece. My last real project was pre-COVID in November of 2019 for Hallmark. I did one shoe-string budget job for Ziploc in May but things have been quiet ever since.

4) What is the best part of being a director? 

I love being able to craft a story, or a character, that can elicit an emotional response from a viewer. A feeling that people can connect with and remind themselves that we’re all a lot more alike than we are different.

5) What is the worst part of being a director? 

Writing bios about yourself

6) 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.? 

In that order. Commercials and branded content, that lead to TV and potentially to feature films. As for genre, I don’t want to pigeon hole myself quite yet. I think I still have a lot more exploring to do. I’m drawn to drama, and comedy, and romance, and a load of other things so we’ll see where this takes me.

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? 

Several. Starting with my high school film teacher Gary Dunn, to a local friend MP Cunningham, my fellow directors on the roster at Sanctuary, Cole Webley, Elle Ginter, Mindcastle, and several others that hardly know I exist like Miles Jay, Ian Pons Jewell, and Diego Contreras.

8) Who is your favorite director and why? 

It may be a cop out but either Quentin or Ari Aster. Quentin makes films that are the whole package. Comedy, drama, action, and romance. His dialogue is some of my favorite. Ari has an uncanny ability to create such lifelike characters that the line between fiction and reality is frequently blurred. His films scare the shit out of me, but I can’t look away because of the attention to character detail.

9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 

Movie: Who doesn’t love Holes?

TV: High Maintenance just recently took the lead for 1st place.

Commercial: Too many to pick from. I love everything from the classic old SportsCenter ads, to “The Magic Diner” by Niclas Larsson

10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 

I was born in Japan where my father was serving in the Air Force. I lived in Florida, then Texas, then landed in Utah at the age of 11. I’ve been here ever since. I worked at a smoothie shop for a couple years, then around age 16 started the hustle of filmmaking. I studied advertising in college, met my wife while there, got married about 4 years ago and just last fall we made the raddest baby girl Marigold.

11) 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?

I’m not sure how candid to be in here, but I haven’t properly worked since the onset of the pandemic. Things were really incredible before COVID-19, but it took a very sharp turn for the worse early on in the year. As such it has been difficult to detach my self-worth and abilities as a filmmaker from the lack of work I’ve received. On the other hand it’s been a good reminder that nothing is promised in this business, or in life for that matter. I started my career with a fierce determination to succeed. As success came quickly and early, I think the flame died down a little, and it wasn’t until recently that I’ve felt that flame reignite and it’s helped me get back in the right mindset. I know where I want to be, and I’m going to do what it takes to get there. It’s just a matter of who’s going to come along for the ride at this point.


Preston Lee
founder/executive producer
Sanctuary Content
Contact Preston via email