Livingston’s David Sisselman Reflects on Career in Commercial Video, Film, and Television Production

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

Film was a passion for David Sisselman since he was a kid. 

“I had no question about what I wanted to do,” he said. “I made home videos. For school projects, every chance I got. I was making videos in grade school. I’d convince a teacher to let me make a video.” 

Sisselman said he doesn’t know where he got his interest from, but he did come from a creative family. Some were musically inclined; some were into photography. And his mom was a stage actress most of her career, but she gave it up to have a family. “Hopefully that was worth it to her,” he said, in regard to himself and his sister. 

He attributes most of his experience to Livingston High School, where he attended from 1996 to 2000. He said back then it was very unusual to have a television department in high school. “They were staffed by Jim Smith; he had industry experience.” 

By the time Sisselman went to college, film wasn’t his main focus. He said, “I didn’t want to be a starving artist. Film is the most expensive art medium known to man. If you want to participate, you have to be able to self-finance.” 

Sisselman graduated at Lehigh University with a B.A. in computer science and went into tech business. “Let me establish a non-artistic career first,” he said. 

In 2005 Sisselman began Reach Universal, providing comprehensive media and technology layer for businesses. The company also provides commercial video services, as well as film and television production services. Sisselman feels that his technology background played a large role in his line of work. “It’s a big advantage,” he said. 

But the one thing that makes him want to run away from the field is the new stuff with Artificial Intelligence. “A.I. will replace the entire industry in almost every category,” he said. “I try not to think about it.”

To date, his most interesting project happened at the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic. “When the pandemic started, all temples and churches were trying to figure out how are they going to do services. Everyone was quarantined at home,” Sisselman said. “Temple B’nai Abraham [in Livingston] is a fairly large congregation. Most temples did a no frills live stream that was pretty bare bones. It’s hard to get the energy of the full service when no one is there. They had us produce twenty hours of services, done the right way with the right cameras…serious audio for music.” 

Continuing, he explained, “We thought we’d get a more live-like experience if we treated it like a serious production, not just something live-streamed on Zoom. I was really excited, how one temple navigated the times and did it in style to give the full experience during a time people were looking for hope.” 

When asked who he’s inspired by, Sisselman said, “My favorite director is Chris Nolan. He’s one of the last old-school filmmakers. He’s had a remarkable career doing things that are artistically rich, but mainstream.” 

 

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