Award-Winning Directing Duo The Coles Bring Human-First Storytelling to Sanctuary

Award-Winning Directing Duo The Coles Bring Human-First Storytelling to Sanctuary

Jan. 25, 2021

Los Angeles-based siblings Sophie and Walker Cole, aka The Coles, bring their contemporary point of view to Sanctuary Content. Known for drawing viewers in with carefully crafted characters, nuanced performances, vivid aesthetics, and true-to-life situations, The Coles communicate the full spectrum of human emotion while nudging at the edges of our perceived reality. A shared passion for a story-first approach makes this newly inked partnership sing.

For both their commercial and short film work, The Coles prepare closely together leading up to a shoot, then divide and conquer on set. Sophie focuses on performance, while Walker communicates with the talent. With one keeping an eye on the big picture to stay true to the vision, and the other focusing on the momentum, energy, and mechanics of the shoot, they hold each other accountable, coming out the other side stronger as a result. The product of this creative give-and-take can be seen in campaigns for brands including Apple Music, Bank of America, Johnson & Johnson, CVS, and Tory Burch. 

The Coles say:

“We both really enjoy the challenges of telling a story in a short, finite amount of time as it breeds creativity. Those who are really exceptional at it can make 30 seconds feel like 30 minutes in terms of substance, and that is a real art.”


Grounding their films through a profound sense of humanity and connection, The Coles strive to break down the barriers between the comedic and the dramatic, to more accurately portray real life, which is full of both and which often occurs simultaneously. 

Their short film “Present Day, Athens” is a piece of work they cite being proudest of thus far, having both had a hand in virtually all aspects of the production. The film garnered several accolades, including Silver at the 1.4 Awards and a win at the International Cinematographers Guild - Emerging Cinematographer Awards. 

  Born and bred Manhattanites, The Coles’ journey into advertising was perhaps an inevitable one, with a family tree that reads like a call sheet. Their father is veteran commercial director Charlie Cole and their uncle, Charlie Miesmer, was a prominent former ECD at BBDO NY. Additionally, their mother was a rep, their other uncle a production designer, and their stepmom a hair and makeup artist. Despite their industry-soaked DNA, working in commercials wasn’t their original plan. 

Both of The Coles’ backgrounds are firmly rooted in the arts. Sophie studied art history and worked in fashion, then became a costume designer. Walker was an art dealer. As fate would have it, in 2016 they wound up collaborating on a film project together and it went so seamlessly, they made their directorial partnership official. The pair credit their development as filmmakers to the very fact that they experienced a world outside of advertising before ultimately returning to it. 

Preston Lee, Founder & Executive Producer of Sanctuary Content, remarks:

“Sophie and Walker’s family shorthand lends itself to a singular clarity of focus in their collaboration, which is truly wonderful to watch in action. They each leverage their innate abilities and honed skills, then come together in a sort of checks and balances system that benefits from the best of two differing perspectives. We’re thrilled to be representing them in this next stage of their career.”


The Coles respond by saying:

“We are incredibly lucky to be working with a company like Sanctuary - a company that puts the work first. We sleep easy at night knowing that they have our best interests at heart, already having felt so supported by Preston and [Executive Producer] Kristen Bedard-Johnson in regards to our projects with agencies as well as our personal ones, and we can’t wait to continue working with them long into the future.”

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