The Big Picture - Epsidode 8: Time to Make a Difference

Stephen Frandsen

1) How did you get into directing?
In school, I studied music and philosophy, and was headed for law school just as my parents always planned. But my senior year, a camera fell in my lap, and I was hooked. I loved the power of a still image, but wanted more. So, after moving from Utah to New York and teaching 2nd grade for two years, I started to work as a production assistant. I then worked my way up to coordinator, PM, and then producer. I made the leap to full-time directing last year after shooting various personal projects and a feature-length documentary Duck Beach to Eternity that screened at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was distributed by FilmBuff/CRM.

2) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project is the current Swiffer Campaign for Procter & Gamble. We traveled the country and told the stories of multiple families that used Swiffer products for the first time. Creating on the fly is very exciting, and a luxury and creative challenge not usually found in broadcast commercial work.

3) What is the best part of being a director?
The best part of directing is meeting interesting people with compelling stories, and working with talented crew members. I also like the challenge of telling a simple story from sometimes complicated parts.

5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I’m drawn to whatever genre best serves the story I’m trying to tell. And I love doing that in the documentary world, the commercial world, and the feature world.

7) Who is your favorite director and why?
I like whoever’s work I’ve seen lately—this week it’s Krzysztof Kieslowki, Sidney Lumet, and Alfonso Cuaron. Next week, there will be others...

8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Again, I can’t really pick favorites—there are too many really great movies to do that. But the movies I love I can watch over and over again—from Children of Men and Full Metal Jacket, to my comfort foods of the Back to the Future and the Indiana Jones trilogies.

9) Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in small-town Utah, and moved to New York City after I joined Teach for America. I taught 2nd grade for two years in the South Bronx, then started pursuing my filmmaking dream.