2 Minutes With ... Corner Shop Director Sara Dunlop

Her creative inspirations, and how she's working while in quarantine

Sara Dunlop is a gifted storyteller who has brought her brand of cinematic realism—anchored by always compelling casting—to commercials for brands ranging from Facebook and HP to McDonald's, Bose and AT&T. She also made a memorable spot for the Royal Air Force, turning the dispiriting clichés of women-targeted ads on their head to deliver a message of empowerment.

Repped for commercial work by The Corner Shop in the U.S. and Rattling Stick in the U.K., Dunlop also crafted a celebrated short film, Dreamlands—a raw, beautifully made coming-of-age story that was the only U.K. short selected to screen in competition at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

We spent two minutes with Dunlop to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and how her life's been different under quarantine.

Sara, tell us...

The town where you were born.

Croydon. It's just south of London. I'm not dissing it, but I wouldn't recommend a special visit!

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

Age 11 – Archaeologist.
Age 12 – Lawyer.
Age 13 – Director.

How you discovered you were creative.

I always had an overactive imagination and knew from an early age that nothing gets in the way of a good story, especially when it comes to excuses for late homework.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

I didn't really have any idols. I did have soft spot for Prince, although I'm not sure that was wholly to do with creativity.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

Being around any teacher who gave me creative affirmation … It all goes in and adds to the voice inside your head that says you can do it, even when the other voice says you can't.

The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.

Prince, obviously.

And presently all the LGBTQI artists that give a voice to feelings that may not be new but were rarely expressed in the past—Kevin Abstract, Mykki Blanco, King Princess.

Your favorite artist.

Marina Abramovic and Bill Viola this week. Will change by next.

The best book you've read lately.

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson.

Your favorite movie.

Klute, although its sexual politics are a little sketchy now—but still an incredible performance by Jane Fonda and an intense cinematic experience.

Your favorite Instagram follow.


How the Covid-19 crisis has changed your life, personally or professionally, in recent weeks.

I have just started shooting a commercial from home, and it is interesting to see how it is possible to create the collective experience of being on set even though we are all in separate rooms and even countries. A fascinating challenge but not one that I want to see become the future of filmmaking.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on, and why.

My short film Dreamlands. To have a bunch of people you love helping your dream come true. It's special, even with extreme sleep depravation and no money. Must do it again.


Nominated for the Short Film Palme d'Or at Festival de Cannes 2016

Your main strength as a creative person.

My ability to encourage talent, combined with my need to control it.

Your weakness or blind spot.

See above.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Feeling free to go anywhere I want anytime. I certainly took this for granted before.

What other creative projects you'd like to try.

Have a boxing fight in the next year.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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