Director Ed McCulloch Signs with FANCY Content
With an art director’s sense of visual style and a photographer’s eye for nuanced composition, Ed McCulloch has found his niche in filmmaking. The director, who just joined the directing corps at the L.A.-based production company FANCY Content, has leveraged these skills into a cinematic showreel that’s earned accolades from Cannes Lions and an entry into the SHOOT New Directors Showcase.
McCulloch’s work includes films that mingle visual storytelling, natural performances and often lush locations and dramatic cinematography. Spots for brands like Lincoln Motor Company, Tim Horton’s, Nike and Panasonic all reflect his multifaceted career influences.
“Ed’s a seasoned professional whose long career in photography provided the perfect foundation for his transition into film,” says FANCY Content Founder and EP Robert Wherry. “Even though he’s only been directing for a few years, his work reveals a practiced eye and a firm grasp on narrative, drama, emotion and style.”
A graduate of Miami Ad School, McCulloch launched his agency career at the Salt Lake City office of Struck, a boutique creative shop. Within a year, however, he left the agency to pursue photography full time, becoming a sought after shooter of print and online campaigns for a range of brands and agencies before moving into film four years ago. Currently represented in Canada by Holiday Films, his signing with FANCY Content is his first representation in the US.
“I was introduced to Robert by a mutual friend and we hit it off right away,” McCulloch says. “It quickly became apparent that we share a similar philosophy on the business, in terms of how we work, the level of passion we bring to what we do and the quality of work that interests us. It also has a lot to do with treating people fairly, and the kind of goals we have for the future. I immediately knew I’d found my home.”
One of McCulloch’s most talked-about spots is his PSA urging suicide helpline support for combat veterans. It opens on a lone soldier, cut off from his unit and under attack. He races for cover, frantically radioing for backup as bullets burst around him and explosives detonate at his every turn, showering him with rocks and dust. He pulls his sidearm and collapses, frozen in fear. As the camera zooms in on his face, we cut to him in the same pose, except he’s on the floor of his kitchen, ashen and holding his pistol at the ready.
McCulloch wrote and directed the spot on his own with support from former Struck colleagues who’d launched their own agency, GumCo. The agency in turn reached out to a number of veterans’ non-profits and the spot was picked up by Wounded Warrior Homes, an organization that provides transitional housing and support for combat veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder. Titled “Warrior,” it catapulted McCulloch into the winners circle at the Cannes Young Directors Awards in 2015 and earned him a spot in the SHOOT New Directors Showcase that year as well.
A Southern California native, McCulloch migrated to Utah, drawn by the mountains and the great outdoors. He attended college there and spent several years, admittedly, as a ski bum. Initially intending to be a high school English teacher, he switched gears and enrolled in ad school, which in turn led to his interest in photography. This background is evident in his attention to casting, locations, wardrobe, art direction, lighting and above all composition. He works closely with his actors to draw natural and seemingly effortless performances out of them.
“I like storytelling that’s emotional and honest,” McCulloch explains, “particularly stories that inspire a change in behavior. I want to make the viewer feel something, to evoke a response and help them see connections to what’s going on in their own lives. As a director I do a lot of research into my subjects and inject my own life experience into the storytelling. I also believe strongly in collaborating, and look for that in the crew I work with. Together we make things I could never create on my own, and that approach has always benefited my agency clients. That’s a big part of the beauty and magic of film.”