About Me

My name is Ben Cunis, and I make movies and other things like movies. I graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with an MFA in Film/TV Production, and yeah that’s a mouthful but that thing was a handful. At USC I directed over a dozen short films, multiple commercials, a music video, a live sketch comedy show, and a sitcom.

Before USC, I worked for 10 years in professional theater in Washington, DC, acting, directing, writing, fundraising, and fight choreographing. As you can probably tell, I have a penchant for staying busy.

I’ve got two specialties. One is working with actors. I know, that seems simplistic, but it’s something, as an actor myself, that I take a lot of pride in. The other is working collaboratively with a story: joining with other artists to capture those great performances, shape a great story, and create indelible images. For 10 years I worked deeply with DC’s Synetic Theater as part of the core artistic team – as a group we worked together to adapt some of histories’ greatest stories into innovative physical productions.

DP - Nate Jakus, Produced by Julian Bridges, Choreography by Francesca Jandasek
Still from “Orpheia” a music video and short dance film with Dan Istrate and Francesca Jandasek

My passions lie in high concepts and grounded characters. I love deeply emotional stories that have a realistic psychological core – a core that wants to find a visual and physical expression.

Lighting Design by Brittany Diliberto, Costumes by Kendra Rai, Set by Daniel Pinha
Beauty and the Beast – directed for Synetic Theater in 2014, with Vato Tsikurishvili and Irinka Kavsadze

I also love genre work – action, horror, sci-fi/fantasy, noir, absurd comedy – but specifically when that work also manages to root itself deeply in the psychology of strong characters and realistic situations. I love the medium of film for its ability to be both deeply realistic and highly symbolic in the same frame.

DP - Omar Juarez, Production Design by Austin Johnson, with Original Art by Ari Bach
From “Drawing” – a short psychological horror currently in post-production. With Kelly Tighe, Mary Hughes, Jeremiah Musgrove, and Dan Istrate.

13+ years of working with intensely creative artists from all over the world means I know and love collaborating with creative teams under high pressure. At the same time, my time as a personal trainer (and the son of a pediatrician), means I respect the human body’s need for sleep, stress relief, nutrition, and physical activity if we want to perform at our best. I’m dedicated to making the creative process more human and sustainable for individuals, teams, and the industry as a whole. I care a lot about creating respectful spaces where everyone can express themselves authentically and do their best possible work, then go home and live their lives knowing they’ve done their best.

Ballet Noire
From “Ballet Noire” with Mair Mulroney and Reed Campbell

I’ve lived most of my adult life in DC and LA, but I grew up in the middle of the woods in New Hampshire. I’ve still got a solid New Englander’s work ethic. I still love nature and find a lot of solace there. When I’m working, my bywords are thoughtfulness and enthusiasm. As a husband and father, I take my personal time seriously, and that mean’s I take my colleagues’ personal time seriously as well.

I’m really into movies, but I also still watch the Office and play pickleball on my spare weekends. My cats’ names are Max and Furiosa and they are, well, adorable of course.