17 Inspiring DPs and Directors of 2021

By Caleb Rexius

Our generation of DPs, directors, and filmmakers has pushed the limits in creativity, innovation, storytelling, and cinematic excellence. Today, we want to send some inspiration your way and highlight some leaders in the industry, who are paving the way. The following is a diverse list of industry professionals who all bring something unique to the table.

Salomon Lighthelm

If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, you should know, follow, and be inspired by Salomon’s work; he’s a trendsetter and a leader in the industry. On a personal note, Salomon has been an inspiration to my film work from the very beginning back in 2012. Looking back on some of his early creations, I remember thinking, “how is this even possible?”. He just continues to push the envelope creatively, and he doesn’t miss. One of the best young directors of our generation.

Portfolio: www.ligthelmm.work

Instagram: @salomonligthelm 

Specialty: Director

Location: NYC

Featured Work:

Jakob Owens

Jakob and I connected with some Filmpac collaborations last year, but his work reaches far beyond. He’s not just an uber-talented director and cinematographer, but also an entrepreneur extraordinaire. His courses, FX, stock footage, gear, studios, and more are just so cool and so relevant to the modern contemporary filmmaker.

Portfolio: www.directorjakobowens.com

Instagram: @jakobowens

Specialty: Director/Editor/Entrepreneur

Location: Tempe, AZ + L.A., CA

Featured Work:

Emily Skye

Emily Skye of SheWolff has been an inspiration to many. She’s not only wildly-talented, but she’s especially made an impact on young, up-and-coming female filmmakers. In a male-majority industry, Emily has shown leadership, innovation, bravery, creativity, and confidence in her directing and cinematography. She’s super talented and it’s been super fun to follow in her filmmaking journey.

Portfolio: www.emilyskyefilms.com/

Instagram: @shewolffilms  

Specialty: Director/DOP/Writer/Producer

Location: Bicoastal (Palm Beach, FL -> L.A., CA)

Featured Work:

Josh Boston

Josh is just one of the most multi-talented creatives I have ever known.  From film to photography, design, and beyond, everything he touches just has this unique and cinematic feel. On a personal level, he’s also a cool, kind guy which makes him even more special. His early DSLR work was a real inspiration to me personally, as I saw such raw talent and storytelling being expressed through such minimal gear. That really empowered me and my confidence to never make excuses about gear, experience, or circumstances… just go make cool stuff. There is a bright future for this dude. You can license some of his beautiful cinematography work at filmpac.com.

Portfolio: www.boston-studios.com

Instagram: @Boston.studios + @_joshboston 

Specialty: Director, DP, Production Studio Owner

Location: Nashville, TN

Featured Work:

Tim Sessler

Tim’s one-of-a-kind aerial work has had me mesmerized since I was just a beginner. His unique and high-production-value footage always impresses me, and he’s been putting out industry-leading work for many years.

Portfolio: https://www.timsessler.com/

Instagram: @t_sessler

Specialty: Director of Photography

Location: Catskill Mountains – originally from Heidelberg, Germany

Featured Work:

Daniel Odegaard

Daniel is a young, multifaceted creative director specializing in video, but he also works with brands on building content, stories, and presence for social media channels. He is the Creative Director at Amnesty Films and he currently resides in Oregon. You can license some of his cinematography work at filmpac.com.

Portfolio: www.amnesty.video

Instagram: @danielodegaard_

Specialty: Director/DP/Entrepreneur

Location: Portland, OR

Featured Work:

Dan DiFelice

Dan is widely-recognized and known for his beautiful, unique, trend-setting films and ads. He’s been a leader for many years and an inspiration to so many aspiring filmmakers, myself included.

Portfolio: https://dandifelice.com/

Instagram: @dandifelice

Specialty: Director

Location: From New Jersey living upstate New York

Featured Work:

Brandon Hoover

If you’ve followed Filmpac, you know that we publish a ton of amazing work, nearly every single week, in our collections. Brandon Hoover is the man behind a lot of the filming and editing of those weekly cinematic masterpieces. It’s always a team effort, from planners and producers to talent and locations to editing and publishing, but I wanted to give a special shoutout to my man Brandon for just crushing it every single week since our launch in 2017. Shooting stock is not hard. But shooting good, authentic, useful stock footage is extremely difficult to do well. You can see and license his work (and many more DPs and cinematographers on this list) at filmpac.com – the leader in the stock footage membership space.

Portfolio: www.filmpac.com

Instagram: @chillfrom92til

Specialty: DP

Location: Eugene, OR

Featured Work:

James Ballard

James is another multi-faceted creative, who creates not only awesome ads but longer form content as well. I think it is extremely difficult and underestimated how tough it is to produce a good short film. His 2016 Sengatan film blew me out of the water, as does his cinematography work. He’s a real talented dude who’s an inspiring follow.

Portfolio: http://www.j-ballard.com/

Instagram: @j_ballard

Specialty: Director/DP

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Featured Work:

Jayson Bosteder

Though he has a highly creative and entrepreneurial mindset, Jayson is probably best-known for his high-powered, high-production-value DP work. Some cinematographers can be “hit or miss”. Jayson doesn’t miss.  Consistent, high quality film work is his signature, and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him and watching him for many years.

Portfolio: https://jaysonbosteder.com/

Instagram: @jaysonpaulbosteder

Specialty: Director/DP

Location: Portland, OR

Featured Work:

Daniel Walther

Daniel, of 21Aerials, has a reputation for grabbing some of the most diverse and spectacular international drone footage we’ve seen.  Dedicated to his craft, he travels all over the world capturing this stunning imagery. You can license his work at filmpac.com.

Portfolio: https://21aerials.com/

Instagram: @21aerials

Specialty: DP

Location: Berlin, Germany

Featured Work:

Ryan Welch

Ryan is a multi-faceted creative, producer, director, and cinematographer.  His documentary work is especially impressive. Ryan is also just a good human being. We’re actually from the same hometown of Eugene, Oregon, and when I was beginning my filmmaking journey, he was literally the only person I knew who was in the video world. I used to call and ask him the most basic questions about gear, cameras, etc. and he never hesitated to respond and help me with my first few baby steps into the industry. I am forever grateful for his guidance and wisdom. It’s served as a reminder to me that when someone asks for help, especially a younger aspiring creative, we should pay it forward and be generous with advice and direction.

Portfolio: www.aofilms.com

Instagram: @ryanwelch & @aofilms 

Specialty: DP/Producer/Editor

Location: Eugene, OR

Featured Work:

Luke Nuemann

Luke has been a valuable teacher and inspiration not just to me, but also to so many filmmakers. His early, helpful YouTube videos and gear tests were highly impactful to our generation of millennial filmmakers, directors, and cinematographers. A highly creative individual, one thing I especially admire about Luke is his unpredictability when it comes to his creative work; he wants to create something you have never seen before, and he pushes the limits. You can license some of his cinematography work at filmpac.com.

Portfolio: https://www.savage.app

Instagram: @savageappofficial

Specialty: Director

Location: Oregon

Featured Work:

Gabe Cox

Gabe’s cinematography is truly – and I don’t say this lightly – one of a kind. I think Gabe actually has my dream job: Cinematic Storm Chaser.  He has captured some of the most beautiful and majestic extreme storm and weather footage I have ever seen, and is one of Filmpac’s most prominent contributors.

Portfolio: https://www.tornadotrackers.org/

Instagram: @gabecox + @tornadotrackers

Specialty: Storm Cinematography

Location: Georgetown, TX

Featured Work:

Colin Hornbaker

Colin, of Anthem Aerials, has one of the most impressive aerial reels I have seen. Clean, tasteful, cinematic, diverse, consistent, well-composed footage has catapulted his work and his reputation as a leader in the aerial cinematography space. Check out some of his work on his portfolio, or license footage on filmpac.com

Portfolio: www.anthemaerials.com

Instagram: @anthemaerials 

Specialty: Drone DP

Location: East Coast based but flies everywhere

Featured Work:

Diego Contreras

Diego originally caught my eye after having a personal travel film get chosen as a vimeo staff pick. I was so inspired by how simple compositions and shots beautifully woven together can make a powerful and artistic story. His commercial work is outstanding, and he’s someone to follow when you need some inspiration and creative ideas.

Portfolio: www.thisisdiego.net

Instagram: @hidiegoc  

Specialty: Director

Location: Currently based in Los Angeles, born and raised in Guatemala. 

Featured Work:

Todd Martin

Todd’s film work is just one-of-a-kind, and it seems like everything he touches turns into a golden cinematic experience. Timeless, yet contemporary. A real inspiration to me and many others.

Portfolio: www.toddmartinfilms.com

Instagram: @toddmartin

Specialty: Director of Photography

Location: London, from New York. Split time between the two!

Featured Work:

This is not a comprehensive list, and I’m sure we’ve missed some wildly talented directors, cinematographers, and content creators. In fact, our follow-up article will be published in January, 2022, and will be titled “Filmmakers to Look Out For in 2022”. We are looking for suggestions, so please let us know if you think someone deserves to be on the list!

Caleb is the Founder and Creative Director at Filmpac

FILMPAC Filmpac is a premium stock footage + music membership library.