Destin Daniel Cretton

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Destin Daniel Cretton
Destin Daniel Cretton.jpg
Cretton in 2013 at the Deauville American Film Festival.
Born (1978-11-23) November 23, 1978 (age 40)
Haiku, Hawaii, United States[1]
Alma materPoint Loma Nazarene University
San Diego State University
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, producer, editor
Years active2002–present

Destin Daniel Cretton (born November 23, 1978)[2] is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, and editor. He is best known for writing and directing his second feature film, Short Term 12 (2013).

Early life[edit]

Cretton was born in Haiku, Hawaii on the island of Maui, and lived there until he was 19 years old, when he moved to San Diego, California to attend Point Loma Nazarene University.[3] After graduating, Cretton started working at a group home for at-risk teenagers[4][5] while making short films as a hobby and later graduated from San Diego State University, where he attended film school.[4] The short film that served as the basis of Short Term 12 was his senior project.[6]


Cretton's short film, Short Term 12, premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize for U.S. Short Filmmaking.[7] He wrote a feature-length adaptation of the short, which earned an Academy Nicholl Fellowship in 2010.[8] Funding for the adaptation was difficult to procure, so Cretton wrote and directed his first feature-length film, I Am Not a Hipster. The film was an official selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and helped get Short Term 12 funded.[6]

Cretton's second feature-length film, Short Term 12, stars Academy Award winner Brie Larson who plays a supervisor in a home for at-risk youth. Short Term 12 opened to widespread critical acclaim at Austin’s South by Southwest Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury Narrative Feature Award and Narrative Audience Award. The film subsequently went on to win many awards and overwhelmingly positive critical reception from critics and festivals alike.[9]

Cretton has frequently worked in collaboration with his sister, Joy Cretton, who has served as costume designer on both of his feature films and some of his shorts.[10]

In 2014, Cretton was attached to direct and rewrite the script for The Glass Castle, an adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ 2005 bestselling memoir about a successful young woman raised by severely dysfunctional parents.[11] Her world gets turned upside down when they move to New York to be near her. Starring Brie Larson as Walls as an adult, the film also features Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts as her alcoholic father and eccentric mother, respectively.[12] Larson's role was originally considered by Jennifer Lawrence, but she dropped out while the studio was seeking the male lead.[13] The film was released on August 10, 2017.[12]

In 2016, it was announced that Creed writer-director Ryan Coogler has teamed up with Cretton and poet/playwright Chinaka Hodge to develop Minors, a new television drama series produced by Charles D. King. Drawing from Cretton’s experiences working in residential foster care, Hodge’s background teaching underserved youth in San Francisco Bay area continuation schools, and Coogler’s upbringing in the East Bay, Minors promises to take an unflinching look at institutionalization, examining juvenile facilities and the children who grow up in that system. The series will show how that system shapes young people over a one-year period. Chinaka will write the series, and Coogler and Cretton will direct.[14]

Cretton has also teamed up with Creed star Michael B. Jordan for Just Mercy, a drama film based on Bryan Stevenson’s New York Times bestselling memoir: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. Oscar-nominated producer Gil Netter (Life of Pi, The Blind Side) is producing. The story follows world-renowned civil rights defense attorney Stevenson (Jordan) as he recounts his experiences and details the case of a condemned death row prisoner whom he fought to free. The true story is one of redemption, passion and mercy, set against a backdrop of a corrupt judicial system which favors the death penalty and targets the poor.[15]


Year Film
Director Writer Producer Editor Notes
2002 Longbranch: A Suburban Parable Yes Yes Yes Short film
2006 Bartholomew's Song Yes Yes Yes Short film
2006 Drakmar: A Vassel's Journey Yes Yes Yes Documentary
Co-directed, co-produced, and co-edited by Lowell Frank
2007 Deacon's Mondays Yes Yes Yes Yes Short film
2008 Short Term 12 Yes Yes Yes Yes Short film
2011 By the Time the Sun Is Hot Yes Short film
2012 I Am Not a Hipster Yes Yes Yes Yes First feature-length film
2013 Short Term 12 Yes Yes
2013 Snapped Yes Executive producer
2017 The Glass Castle Yes Yes
2020 Just Mercy Yes Yes Post-production


  1. ^ "Featured Filmmaker: Destin Cretton, Writer/Director of 'Short Term 12′". Maui Film Festival. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "United States Public Records Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  3. ^ Goldstein, Jessica (August 30, 2013). "'Short Term 12' writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton on real-life inspiration behind his film". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Meet the 2013 SXSW Filmmakers #30: 'Hipster' Destin Daniel Cretton Returns With Brie Larson Starring Drama 'Short Term 12'". Indiewire. March 5, 2013. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Adams, Sam (August 23, 2013). "Short Term 12 filmmaker Destin Cretton". The Dissolve. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Bradford, Ryan (September 4, 2013). "The rise of Destin Daniel Cretton". San Diego City Beat. Southland Publishing. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  7. ^ Caceda, Eden (December 17, 2013). "Finding A Voice". Filmink. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014.
  8. ^ "Academy Nicholl Fellows 1986–Present". Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  9. ^ "2013's Best Film 'Short Term 12' Does Strong Business In Limited Release". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  10. ^ "I Am Not A Hipster: Q&A with Costume Designer Joy Cretton". Bluebird on My Shoulder. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  11. ^ McNary, Dave. "Jennifer Lawrence's 'Glass Castle' Gains Momentum at Lionsgate". Variety. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  12. ^ a b "Naomi Watts in Talks to Join Brie Larson in Drama 'Glass Castle' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  13. ^ Busch, Anita. "Woody Harrelson In Talks For 'The Glass Castle' Opposite Brie Larson". Deadline. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  14. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. "Ryan Coogler Teams With Destin Daniel Cretton & Chinaka Hodge For TV Drama 'Minors'". Deadline. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  15. ^ "Michael B. Jordan to Star in 'Just Mercy' for Broad Green, 'Short Term 12' Director". TheWrap. Retrieved 2016-03-26.

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