Destin Daniel Cretton

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Destin Daniel Cretton
Destin Daniel Cretton by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Cretton at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1978-11-23) November 23, 1978 (age 40)
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 his collaborations with Brie Larson, in the films Short Term 12 (2013), The Glass Castle (2017), and Just Mercy (2019).

Early life[edit]

Cretton was born in 1978 in Haiku, Hawaii on the island of Maui, the son of Janice Harue Cretton, a Japanese American hairdresser, and Daniel Cretton, of Irish and Slovak ancestry, who worked for the fire department.[3][4] He was home-schooled by his Christian mother.[5][6] He lived in Haiku in a two-bedroom house with his five siblings,[7] including sister Joy, until he was 19 years old. He moved to San Diego, California to attend Point Loma Nazarene University, where he majored in communications.[8] After graduating, Cretton worked for two years as a staff person at a group home for at-risk teenagers.[9][10]

He made short films as a hobby, which developed as a vocational path. He attended and graduated from film school at San Diego State University.[9] For his senior project, he made a 22-minute short film, Short Term 12, based on his experiences at the facility for teenagers. He later developed and expanded this as a feature film of the same name, released in 2013.[11]


Cretton at the Deauville American Film Festival in 2013

In 2014, Cretton was attached to rewrite the script and direct The Glass Castle, an adaptation of the 2005 bestselling memoir about a successful young woman raised by severely dysfunctional parents.[12] 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 features Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts as her alcoholic father and eccentric mother, respectively.[13] Larson's role was originally considered by Jennifer Lawrence, but she dropped out while the studio was seeking the male lead.[14] The film was released on August 10, 2017.[13]

In 2016, it was announced that 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 under-served 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, exploring 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. Hodge will write the series, and Coogler and Cretton will direct.[15]

Cretton has also teamed up with Brie Larson and 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.[16] Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Institute in Montgomery, Alabama, where he started providing defense counsel to men on death row. Gil Netter is producing. The plot follows civil rights defense attorney Stevenson (Jordan) as he recounts his experiences as a defense counsel, and explores the case of a death row prisoner whom he fought to free. The true story is one of redemption, passion and mercy. It is set against Alabama's judicial system, which favors the death penalty and discriminates against poor defendants.[17]

In March 2019, Cretton was hired by Marvel Studios to direct a film based on Shang-Chi.[18] The film is Marvel's first superhero movie tentpole franchise with an Asian protagonist.[16]


Year Film
Director Writer Producer Editor Notes
2012 I Am Not a Hipster Yes Yes Yes Yes
2013 Short Term 12 Yes Yes
2017 The Glass Castle Yes Yes
2019 Just Mercy Yes Yes Post-production
2021 Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Yes Pre-Production


  1. ^ Tekula, Sara (June 17, 2013). "Featured Filmmaker: Destin Cretton, Writer/Director of 'Short Term 12′". Maui Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2017-11-13. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "United States Public Records Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  3. ^ Willmore, Alison (May 31, 2016). "28 Asian-American Filmmakers You Need To Know". BuzzFeed.
  4. ^ Robinson, Greg (January 1, 2018). "THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Cinematic 20th century Nikkei » Nichi Bei".
  5. ^ Wianecki, Shannon (October–November 2013). "Moving Pictures". Hana Hou!. No. 16.5.
  6. ^ Sugidono, Chris (August 11, 2017). "Filmmaker recalls his Haiku past while directing 'The Glass Castle'". The Maui News.
  7. ^ Valentini, Valentina (August 8, 2017). "Director Destin Daniel Cretton Has Always Lived in The Glass Castle". Vanity Fair.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Adams, Sam (August 23, 2013). "Short Term 12 filmmaker Destin Cretton". The Dissolve. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  11. ^ Bradford, Ryan (September 4, 2013). "The rise of Destin Daniel Cretton". San Diego City Beat. Southland Publishing. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  12. ^ McNary, Dave (August 8, 2014). "Jennifer Lawrence's 'Glass Castle' Gains Momentum at Lionsgate". Variety. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  13. ^ a b Kit, Borys (2016-03-29). "Naomi Watts in Talks to Join Brie Larson in Drama 'Glass Castle' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  14. ^ Busch, Anita (November 5, 2015). "Woody Harrelson in Talks For 'The Glass Castle' Opposite Brie Larson". Deadline. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  15. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. (February 25, 2016). "Ryan Coogler Teams With Destin Daniel Cretton & Chinaka Hodge For TV Drama 'Minors'". Deadline. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  16. ^ a b Fleming Jr., Mike (March 13, 2019). "Destin Daniel Cretton Marvel's Choice To Direct 'Shang-Chi'". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  17. ^ Denise Petski, Dino-Ray Ramos (August 8, 2018). "Brie Larson In Talks To Join Michael B. Jordan In 'Just Mercy'". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  18. ^ Kit, Borys; Couch, Aaron (March 13, 2019). "Marvel's 'Shang-Chi' Sets Director Destin Daniel Cretton". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 13, 2019.

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