Tempe Filmmaker Cary Truelick: 100 Creatives

Categories: 100 Creatives

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True Story Films
Meet the filmmaker.

Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 48. Cary Truelick.

Like many creatives who venture to Phoenix, Cary Truelick wasn't planning on staying.

But after graduating from ASU in 1993, he consistently found film and TV work that kept him in the Valley. He got his start working as studio manager at Production Masters, which later became Great Scott Productions. Truelick went on to work as Great Scott's creative director, before branching out and co-founding post-production company Copper Post in 2001. In 2002, he founded production company True Story Films.

See also: Phoenix Artist Kyllan Maney: 100 Creatives


Day to day, Truelick's work at the two Addy- and Emmy-winning companies takes him all over. "I could be filming on a lively college campus, a remote part of the desert, a major sporting event, a corporate headquarters, on a runway, in the air, in a studio or wherever else the job brings me." When shooting is wrapped, it's a matter of finishing up projects and prepping for what's next.

He's produced commercials and marketing films for JW Marriott, SPEED Network, ESPN, Arizona Office of Tourism, Arizona State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, United Rentals, Mutual of Omaha and Major League Baseball. But he's also found time for film and TV projects like the The Show, a documentary series he co-produced and filmed about minor league baseball players, Jerabek, a documentary he co-produced about a family who lost a son in the Iraq war, and Blood Into Wine, the documentary about Maynard James Keenan's wine business that Truelick co-produced and for which he was director of photography.

But, Truelick says, one of the highlights of his career was working as director of photography with Red Line Films on an episode of the Travel Channel's Dhani Tackles The Globe, which was filmed on a three-week trek throughout the Himalayas.

Turns out, staying in Phoenix can open up a world of possibilities.

I came to Phoenix with the thought that I wouldn't be here long term. I was 17 and starting school at ASU. I really liked Phoenix, but thought I would need to keep going west to have the career I wanted. One thing led to another...I had a great time in school, met a pretty cool girl who became my wife, and I started getting quality production experience. I met some talented people in Phoenix who worked on high level stuff and was excited to see the work they were doing. I paid some dues. worked for free sometimes, painted massive studio walls, fixed equipment. When people saw that I really wanted to learn the business I started to get better opportunities. I gained camera, writing and directing experience. I opened Copper Post in 2002 and True Story Films in 2003 with my prime collaborator and co-worker at the time, Rob Beadle. Then somehow 12 years shot by!

I make art because I don't think I'd be happy doing anything else. I always knew I'd be a filmmaker of some kind. I remember walking out of great movies as a kid feeling inspired, energized. I was so drawn to the idea of telling a story visually that could have that kind of effect on people. Today I don't work on feature films that often, but I bring that same mentality to everything I produce. I feel really lucky to work in this business.

I'm most productive when I'm inspired and excited about something new. There's nothing better than when the ideas are flowing. Sometimes it happens when I'm brainstorming with our creative team, sometimes it happens in the middle of the night when the distractions are out of the way. Of course...sometimes it doesn't happen! Not easily anyway. Deadlines also have a way of getting things moving.

My inspiration wall is full of great work from everywhere. Other directors, cinematographers, photographers, illustrators, music, architecture, behind the scenes articles. There is so much great stuff out there and it's instantly accessible. I really love seeing what other people are doing. It can also be overwhelming and you can get lost in it. Going outside and having fun with my kids is sometimes the best way to clear my head and open myself up to fresh thoughts. The other big part of it is making time to be inspired. You need to prioritize whatever it is that refills your creative tank. It's something I have to continue to remind myself when things get crazy.

I've learned most from my mom and dad. My mom was a very talented interior designer and I spent so many hours on her job sites as a kid. I didn't realize it then, but I learned a lot about creativity from her. Specifically, having a strong creative vision and moving toward it with confidence. She also showed me how much work often goes on behind the scenes to make something beautiful. My Dad was great businessman and has always had a way with people. I learned the importance of surrounding myself with good people and that luck was something you create for yourself. Over the years I've also learned a lot from many talented people that I've collaborated with on hundreds of projects.

Good work should always evoke emotion. Get a reaction. If it does you'll have done your job and your audience will be much more inclined to pay attention, whether you're telling someone's life story or selling a widget.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more exposure and support. Creatively, Phoenix has come a long way in the last 10-15 years with growth of film festivals, galleries, design events, arts education. We need to keep on the path exposing people to the creativity that's here, and we as the public need to support it. The more ways young artists and all of us can connect to good creative, the better our arts culture and community will be moving ahead.


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