Producer/directors Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann’s collaboration began in the third grade, when their teacher, Mrs. Lockhart, assigned them to memorize and recite the Eugene Field poem “Little Boy Blue," about a child who dies in his sleep. Their paths have diverged and re-converged many times since then, but their friendship has held steady throughout.
Shaun went on to complete his undergraduate degree at Carleton College in musicology, focusing on the history and theory of 20th-century experimental music. Soon after, he spent a year in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright Fellowship studying Sri Lanka’s civil war through contemporary literature. After the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, he co-created a research project to investigate how international aid money was being used for
Sri Lanka’s disaster reconstruction. That took him back to Sri Lanka for another year, and that is where he made his first documentary film (on the role of Sri Lanka’s media in their civil war).
Deb and Shaun have co-directed many commercials and short documentaries, including First and Loveliss, an intimate portrait of two eccentric retirees in rural Tennessee that won the jury prize for best short documentary at Outfest in 2009.
After receiving her B.A. in English and Theatre from Westmont College in 2000, Deb spent several years doing international development and Public Health work in Latin America, Mongolia and Thailand. The interplay between social change and a fascination with visual storytelling led to her first documentary project in 2005. Two years later, she co-founded Candlefoot Productions, a boutique video production company that has produced pieces for PBS Frontline, UNDP, ABC and many others. Born This Way is her first feature documentary.
Deb and Shaun both were raised in extremely conservative Christian homes in a small town in central California. Making a film on this subject has sometimes put strains on their relationships with their families, though Deb’s parents have come around and are very supportive. Shaun gave his mom a DVD of the finished film after its premiere, but after watching the first 10 minutes, she refused on moral grounds to watch any more.