Derek Cianfrance

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Derek Cianfrance
Cianfrance at the screening of Blue Valentine during 18th Annual Hamptons Film Festival
Derek M. Cianfrance[1][2]

(1974-01-23) 23 January 1974 (age 50)
Alma materUniversity of Colorado Boulder
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter
Years active1998–present
SpouseShannon Plumb

Derek M. Cianfrance (/ˈsənfræns/;[3] born January 23, 1974) is an American film director, cinematographer, screenwriter, and editor.[4] He is best known for writing and directing the films Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines and The Light Between Oceans as well as the HBO miniseries I Know This Much Is True. For his contributions to the story of Sound of Metal, he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay with its director Darius Marder and Abraham Marder.

Early life and education[edit]

Cianfrance grew up in Lakewood, Colorado, and graduated Green Mountain High School,[5] and then attended the University of Colorado Boulder, studying film production under avant-garde filmmakers Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon.


At 23, he wrote, directed, and edited his first feature film, Brother Tied, which premiered and was awarded at the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg and was well received at festivals including Sundance.

His second feature, Blue Valentine, starred Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The two actors became familiar with their roles several years before filming but never met in person.[6] The project was originally slated to shoot in California, but Cianfrance relocated to Brooklyn so that Williams could be with her daughter.[7] There were no rehearsals and Cianfrance rarely shot more than one take per shot. The film was originally given an NC-17 rating, despite having little nudity and no violence.[8] It has since been changed to an R-rating after an appeal was filed by The Weinstein Company.[9]

Blue Valentine star Gosling worked with Cianfrance again on The Place Beyond the Pines (2013), which followed a motorcycle stunt rider (Gosling) who becomes a bank robber to support his newborn son.[4] Bradley Cooper also stars in the film.[4] Principal photography was done in the summer of 2011. Location filming was done in upstate New York – Schenectady, Niskayuna, and Glenville areas in 2011.

Next, Cianfrance wrote and directed The Light Between Oceans (2016) a romantic drama based on the 2012 novel of the same name by M. L. Stedman. An international co-production between the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, the film stars Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Bryan Brown, and Jack Thompson. The film tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who rescue and adopt an infant girl adrift at sea. Years later, the couple discover the child's true parentage and are faced with the moral dilemma of their actions.

Since the early 2010s, Cianfrance had been working on a fictional documentary called Metalhead, which centered on a metal drummer who becomes deaf. The film featured the members of the band Jucifer portraying themselves.[10] The project was developed for years with Cianfrance eventually passing the reigns over to his friend and The Place Beyond the Pines co-writer Darius Marder resulting in Sound of Metal (2019). Starring Riz Ahmed, the film premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and was released by Amazon Studios in 2020.[11] Cianfrance, Marder, and his brother Abraham Marder, received an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay nomination for the film.[12]

Cianfrance wrote and directed the HBO miniseries I Know This Much Is True, an adaptation of Wally Lamb's novel of the same name.[13] The series premiered in spring 2020.[14]

In October 2021, he was set to write and direct Wolfman, replacing Leigh Whannell as director, along with screenwriters Rebecca Angelo and Lauren Shuker Blum. The film will star Gosling, marking their third collaboration.[15]

Other work[edit]

Cianfrance is also known for his TV documentary work, which includes portraits of musicians Sean Combs and Run DMC and the Battleground basketball series. He is currently working on a television series called Muscle, for HBO, which he says will be a comedy series with a unique take on "character development."[16]

Personal life[edit]

Cianfrance is married to actress and film director Shannon Plumb. Together, they have two children.[17][18]



Year Title Director Writer Notes
1998 Brother Tied Yes Yes Also cinematographer and editor
2010 Blue Valentine Yes Yes
2012 The Place Beyond the Pines Yes Yes
2016 The Light Between Oceans Yes Yes
2020 Sound of Metal No Story Also executive producer
Nominated–Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
TBA Roofman Yes Yes Co-wrote story with Kirt Gunn


Year Title Director Writer Executive
2020 I Know This Much Is True Yes Yes Yes Miniseries

Documentary work

Year Title Notes
2002 Run-D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay: The Last Interview Also cinematographer
2004 Battlegrounds: King of the World
2005 Battlegrounds: King of the Court
2006 Black and White: A Portrait of Sean Combs TV movie
2008 The Power of Dreams - Dream the Impossible
2021 His Name Is Ray as Executive Producer



  1. ^ "Brother Tied". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  2. ^ "Derek Ciafrance". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2014. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  3. ^ Murphy, Mekado (March 22, 2013). "Inside 'The Place Beyond the Pines'". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Scott, A. O. (March 28, 2013). "Good Intentions, Paving the Usual". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Oscar Q&A Series: Derek Cianfrance". 10 February 2013.
  6. ^ Awards Watch Roundtable, 2010. Hollywood Reporter Archived 2011-07-12 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Douglas, Edward (March 22, 2013). "Interview: Derek Cianfrance Uncovers The Place Beyond the Pines". Coming Soon. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  11. ^ Perez, Rodrigo (June 13, 2020). "'I Know This Much Is True': Derek Cianfrance On The Epic Canvas Of TV, 'Empire Of The Summer Moon' & Much More [Interview]". ThePlaylist. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  12. ^ Oganesyan, Natalie; Moreau, Jordan (March 15, 2021). "Oscars 2021: The Complete Nominations List". Variety. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  13. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (18 October 2017). "Mark Ruffalo To Star In HBO Limited Drama Series In Works From Derek Cianfrance Based On Wally Lamb Book". Deadline Hollywood.
  14. ^ Ben Travers (18 October 2017). "20 HBO Original Programs to Be Excited About in 2020 — 'The Outsider,' 'Perry Mason,' and More". IndieWire.
  15. ^ Justin Kroll (16 October 2021). "Ryan Gosling And Universal's 'Wolfman' Sets Derek Cianfrance As Director". Deadline Hollywood.
  16. ^ Slash Film
  17. ^ Galloway, Stephen (September 5, 2012). "'Blue Valentine' Director Reveals How the Movie Changed His Life (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  18. ^ "Mothers & Film: An Interview With Shannon Plumb". Skipriporplay. May 11, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2013.

External links[edit]