TJ Martin and Dan Lindsay


Dan Lindsay grew up in the comfort of the American Midwest – Rockford, Illinois. TJ Martin was raised by two punk rock playing parents in bustling Seattle. Their backgrounds couldn’t be more different, but as a directing duo, they count it as one of their greatest strengths: the ability to step inside another’s shoes.

It’s one of the keys that allowed them to tap deeply into the emotional world of the young men in an inner-city high school football team in the Academy Award-winning documentary Undefeated. Martin + Lindsay not only stepped inside a world completely different from their own, but they communicated every emotion, translated every experience and captured every high and low with an honesty, empathy and faithfulness to their subjects that made an unreachable world relatable.

On their approach to making Undefeated…

Dan: We wanted something that would be experiential; something where events would unfold in front of the camera. We wanted to catch real moments in an age of reality television where things are so scripted. We wanted to catch something genuine.

TJ: It goes back to our approach: It’s a genuine curiosity and understanding of how other people live; how other people think; how that relates to me and my experiences, all the while searching for common ground. Every story has an emotional core and we always aim to explore that.

On what they bring to advertising…

Dan: We’re interested in good pieces of work. We’re always seeking one quality in it: an emotive sentiment that allows the audience to feel something and that’s what’s impressive about advertising – you can find short-format material that you’ll never forget.

On unearthing insights in storytelling…

Dan: Discovery is one of the most important tenants in storytelling. Discovery is what makes a joke funny; it’s what makes drama interesting. Anytime the audience is a step ahead of you and knows where you’re going, you’ve lost them.

On the advantages of being a duo…

TJ: We have a pretty healthy balance between being problem solvers – being very logistical in trying to execute the concept or vision – and also making sure, in the film space, that the magic or the artistic quality of it is not diluted.