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You’ve probably seen more movies made by Bruce Van Dusen than any other director alive.
1977. New York City. Cool and crime-ridden, cheap and wild. Bruce Van Dusen shows up in town with a film degree and $150 to his name. He wants to make movies. So he does. The only ones anyone will pay him to make? Little ones. Thirty seconds long. Commercials. He has no idea what he’s doing and the money sucks. But he’s a director.
He quickly learns he has the two things he needs to succeed in the fickle world of commercial-making: a talent for telling short, emotional stories, and the hustle to fight for every job no matter how small. He still has no idea what he’s doing—not that anyone needs to know that. He just keeps making it up as he goes along.
He gets hired by a client on life support in the most depressing hospital in New York. Gets peed on by a lion. Abused by Charles Bronson. Explains peristalsis to a Tony winner. Makes a movie and goes to Sundance. Goes back to little movies when it bombs. Keeps hustling, shooting anything. Gets married, has kids. Pushes, shoves, survives. Gets divorced. Survives some more. Is an asshole, pays the price, finally learns when and how to be an asshole and becomes one of the industry’s stars.
Years go by and it’s not what he expected. It’s harder, weirder, and funnier. But it worked out. It worked out great, actually.
Bruce Van Dusen has had a more than four-decade long career as a successful director of commercials. Whether you wanted to or not, you’ve seen his work. Tons of it.
His commercials have won awards. But since all commercials win some kind of award, that’s not much of an accomplishment. He’s also directed three feature films
and a documentary. The first film, Cold Feet, was a Sundance finalist, a critical failure, but a commercial success. The other films didn’t do so well. Proof that commercials were right where he belonged. Van Dusen was born in Detroit and lives in New York City.
Josh Alexander is one of the founders of Group Effort Films. His recent films include writing Oscilloscope's JAY MYSELF, writing and producing Cinema Guild's I'M LEAVING NOW and executive producing HBO Docs UNITED SKATES. Previous credits include writing CNN Films THE REAGAN SHOW (2017 Critics Choice Award Nomination for Best Political Documentary), writing and co-directing Samuel Goldwyn Films PRESCRIPTION THUGS and writing/producing HBO Docs SOUTHERN RITES. Other credits include writing and producing Sarah Jessica Parker's executive-produced PRETTY OLD. In the fiction world: Josh wrote and produced BACKSEAT (winner, Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival). His films have been nominated for The Oscars, The Emmys, The Peabody Awards, The IDAs, The Gothams, Cinema Eye Honors, Critics Choice Awards, The Humanitas Prize, among others. Born in the Bay Area, Alexander lives in Brooklyn.