“An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful that hasn’t been seen before?” renowned director Francis Ford Coppola once said. While many aspiring filmmakers make the move to Los Angeles with hopes and dreams in hand, the likelihood of proverbially ‘making it big’ is slim to none. As nearly 800 movies roll out to American audiences each year, gaining traction as an up-and-coming director can be an uphill battle, proving oneself to the massive studio machines, through hundreds of rewrites, notes, and now, covid-19 delays, leave many aspiring writer/directors to retreat away from sunny California in defeat. But for creatives David Dinetz and Dylan Trussell having the odds stacked against the duo is nothing new, as the pair’s first television series was initially postponed two weeks due to covid, then canceled due to Quibi’s demise. Their first film also suffered a similar fate after it was finished and sold, but the duo is confident the third time will be a blockbuster charm.
Known for its genre-bending take on video production, Dinetz and Trussell’s Culprit Creative has been behind some of the past decade’s most eye-catching and awe-inspiring viral video content. As the minds behind iconic commercials for Virgin, culture shifting headphones brand Beats by Dre, and luxury car manufacturer Mercedes, Dinetz and Trussell’s deft touch has helped grow Culprit Creative into one of the most sought-after boutique creative agencies of present day, even earning a nod from the much sought-after Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Having carved a distinct niche for themselves with out-of-the-box ads, the team’s accomplishments and ever-growing roster of high-end clientele can be boiled down to one specific origin: Dinetz and Trussell’s cinematic aesthetic. Their short film, produced by horror auteur and Inglorious Basterd, Eli Roth won Short of The Week.
Culprit Creative’s Dylan Trussell
Having studied film together at the University of Colorado Boulder, Dinetz and Trussell learned how to work in sync with one another from the onset of their formal education. Though undoubtedly each bringing their own unique vision to every project, the pair’s longtime friendship has allowed them to work at high-speed efficiency, quickly pumping out premium content with harmonious ease. Still, while having found major success in the commercial world, Dinetz and Trussell never forgot their roots, always keeping a keen eye on developing their own films.
One such project — the duo’s movie Airplane Mode — managed to capture the attention of Hollywood and the world alike through its unconventional approach. The year was 2015, and Dinetz and Trussell capitalized on the burgeoning area of (prepare for a throwback) Vine influencers. Tapping popular content creators like Juanpa Zurita and Logan Paul for lead roles, and a number of other buzzy figures like David Dobrik, Lele Pons and King Bach as supporting characters, Dinetz and Trussell spun the standard of a Hollywood-approved cast completely on its head, raising the financing themselves, and dominating industry headlines. They sold the film to Youtube Originals — but the Vine standouts soon became bigger stars, and a week before the release their lead actor caused an international incident, and the film was scrapped with many valuable lessons learned. Though a tough setback, the innovative venture boosted Dinetz and Trussell’s names into conversation as two exciting filmmakers to look out for.