We had the good fortune of connecting with Danielle Swanson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danielle, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When my co-producers (Anne Arreguin, Walter Kartman and Brian Larios) and I first formed our production company, 3D1S Productions, our original intent was simply to make more content for ourselves as actors. We came up with some goals and an overall vision of what we wanted to accomplish, and then within the first year, things completely took off – people kept approaching us to work on so many different types of projects that our vision transformed into something beyond what we even originally intended. So while we first started off as actors wanting to make content for reels, we’ve grown and transformed into producers, filmmakers and storytellers.
Something kind of funny and interesting – I was recently listening to an interview with Ben Affleck on the THR Awards Chatter podcast and he was talking about how he and Matt Damon went about creating Good Will Hunting. At the time they wrote it, they were still just two young actors trying to make it in LA, so they wrote the script with the intention of filming it and using it for their acting reels. The rest is history, obviously, but I never knew that that’s how that movie came about for them. It was so exciting and interesting to recognize the parallel between how they started and how 3D1S Productions started. Hearing their story makes me eager to continue working hard and expanding our company’s portfolio. Hopefully it gives other artists reading this encouragement as well!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
There are three things that, I think, set me apart from other artists: I’m a team player, I care a lot, and I’m a very well-rounded performer.
A majority of the roles I’ve done throughout my theatrical career – from my middle school days to today – have been ensemble roles. I was always excited to join a new “group” that I would work closely with throughout the production; from being a Maiden in The Pirates of Penzance, to a Lil’ Devil in Damn Yankees, to serving as the Chorus Leader in The Bacchae. What I love about ensemble roles are that they force you to collaborate with the group, create a distinct character, and immerse yourself in the story to shape the world of the show and bring it to life. My high school theatre director, Brian Fruits, who is a dear friend and mentor to this day, always said there is no such thing as a small role. Even if you don’t have lines, you have to be all in and living your own story that aligns with the spine of the show. That’s how I learned to become a team player…which ties into how much I care.
Oftentimes, I was designated as the leader or captain of an ensemble group for a production because I took it seriously and held myself and others to high standards. This has been hard for me at times throughout my career because we all have different reasons for doing things – some people like to do theatre and film just for fun. And I do, too! But I want to have fun, work hard, and also make something really good, and I hold people accountable for not stepping up to the plate which can make me the not most likable person at times. I’ve always had high standards for myself and others, especially when it comes to making art…and those standards continue to evolve with every project I do. So caring a lot and being a team player have both contributed to me being a well-rounded artist.
I grew up playing softball and when I was younger, the coaches would have us play all over the field so we could get a feel for different positions (i.e. infield vs. outfield, shortstop vs. first base, pitcher vs. catcher, etc.). One summer, at our end of season party, the coaches were handing out awards to recognize all the players for their contributions (i.e. MVP, Top Hitter, Most Improved, etc.). The award they gave me was “Best All Around Player.” When I asked my Dad what that meant, he said it meant I was good at playing all of the positions on the field. I still cherish that award to this day – clearly, because here I am talking about it! But I think I cherish it because it really signifies how I am not only as a person, but as an artist. With acting, I can do lead roles, supporting roles and ensemble roles; I can do comedy and drama. As a filmmaker, I can do acting, writing, directing and producing. And I can do them all really well. In hindsight, maybe I wasn’t good enough at any one thing for my softball coaches to give me a more distinguishable award, so they gave me the one they did to make sure I didn’t feel left out…every kid has to get an award, right?! Whatever their reasoning, I’m still really proud to have received it and I think it perfectly encapsulates my talents and abilities even today.
Overall, I’m really proud that I’ve expanded my abilities as an artist, filmmaker and storyteller. The possible trajectory of my career feels more exciting now than it ever has, and I can’t wait to see what types of projects and opportunities will come my way.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh man…so many things! I really love food, so I’ll start with places to eat:
Sugarfish – Best sushi I’ve ever had.
Catch LA – Gorgeous rooftop restaurant with great food, cocktails and scenic views.
Norah – Really good food and cocktails.
Osteria Mozza – Super delicious Italian cuisine.
Malibu Café at Calamigos Ranch – Fantastic brunch spot with fun outdoor seating and activities.
Duke’s – Restaurant in Malibu that sits right on the ocean. Every time I’ve gone I’ve seen dolphins!
Porto’s Bakery – A Cuban bakery and restaurant that is always packed but SO worth the wait.
Bottega Louie – I love bringing home a box of their macarons for dessert.
B Sweet Dessert Bar – Glazed donut ice cream sandwich. Need I say more?
As for things to do, I would recommend hiking up to the Hollywood sign, going on a bike tour in Venice Beach, visiting the La Brea Tar Pits, and, lastly, driving along the Pacific Coast Highway to enjoy the gorgeous views! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve worked with some pretty amazing teachers and mentors throughout my career who shaped me into the person and artist I am today. Brian Fruits, Scott Irelan and Robert D’Avanzo – each of them has given me a solid foundation of values and beliefs that I still uphold to this day. I’m also really lucky to have met Andy Shultz, founder of Worst Ever Productions, here in LA. He’s always encouraging me to act, write and direct, and is constantly giving me opportunities to do so. I feel really lucky to have encountered these individuals in my lifetime and I’m grateful for the wisdom, love and support they have given me throughout the years.
Other: 3D1S Productions Instagram: @3d1sproductions 3D1S Productions YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzVLsaInDrGt1JfV8VzRa8Q
Steph Girard, Melissa Rodriguez, Matthew Alexander