If Reilly Springs resident Terry McCullough has the ability to see the world differently from the rest of us, he comes by it honestly.
“My father, Luther McCullough Jr., was the last journeyman linotype to retire in Dallas,” McCullough explained. “My mother, the former Billie Faye Attlesey, was ultra creative.”
His uncles, Joe and Bob, were famously known as the Shelton Brothers, who were the driving force behind the Reilly Springs Jamboree.
When he was growing up in Oak Cliff, he hung out with Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray’s older brother.
“I remember going to their garage, picking up a guitar and jamming with them,” he noted. “I was horrible, but it was incredible to be there.”
From the 5th grade on, McCullough spent two months each summer in Reilly Springs helping out at his uncle Finis Attlesey’s dairy and he spent a lot of time backstage at the Jamboree.
The creative force behind Terry McCullough Productions (TMP) has always been interested in all fine arts.
After graduating from Kimball High School, McCullough studied architecture and art at the University of Texas at Arlington before relocating to Rochester, New York, for four years of study at Southern University of New York (SUNY).
“I moved to Rochester, lock, stock and barrel,” he remembered. “I had never been out of Texas.”
After college, where he spent time working at a small design boutique that claimed Eastman Kodak and Xerox as clients, McCullough came home to Dallas and started TMP in 1981. Within 10 years, he was at the top of his game.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” McCullough noted. “How lucky am I to have been exposed to so many wonderful things? Now, when I do projects, everything comes into the creative bucket.”
One of his early assignments was to photograph industry leaders. He traveled to New York to shoot Phillip Johnson (1906-2005), the first architect to receive the Pulitzer Prize. Johnson designed the Amon Carter Museum in 1961 and its 2001 expansion, as well as the John F. Kennedy Memorial in 1970.
“The first time I interviewed Phillip Johnson at his offices at 53rd and 3rd in New York City, he had a corner spot that overlooked all of Manhattan,” McCullough said. “He was sitting at a table. He must have been 80 years old then and he was holding this little, tiny crude model of a skyscraper and he was just turning it around, letting the light hit it. I knew that was the shot I wanted.”
McCullough was also tasked with shooting several Dallas celebrities, including actress Sheree J. Wilson (of “Walker, Texas Ranger” fame), actor Barry Corbin (from “Northern Exposure”), golfers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, athletes Emmett Smith and Pudge Rodriguez, and the legendary Dallas Cowboys Coach Tom Landry.
“Coach and his family had created the Lisa Landry Childress Foundation in honor of their daughter who had died of cancer,” McCullough noted. “They wanted us to make a film to promote transplantation awareness. Tom Landry was the most gracious person I have ever known.”
For the past 30 years, TMP has worked with a company named Global Experience Specialists (GES). They’re the largest developers of trade shows designs in the world. Their worker bees are everywhere at a show, setting up booths and making sure everything runs smoothly.
“GES is our client and they are the ones who pay us,” McCullough said.
GES’ client list reads like a who’s who in the Fortune 500, and includes Bank One, Bell Helicopter, Eastman Kodak, Federal Express, CBS Records (now Sony Music), Mary Kay Cosmetics, NASA, PepsiCo, Ritz-Carlton, L’Oréal USA, Texas Instruments, Verizon and Xerox.
“For us it is a huge coup for GES?to recommend us to companies like these and say, ‘This is the creative entity we want to use,’” he said. “We’ve been blessed in that regard.”
While producing commercials and shooting corporate moguls, McCullough kept up with his fine art work, which came in handy when he made a presentation to NASA in Washington, D.C.
“I’m never going to be Jackson Pollock, but when they found out I was an abstract expressionist artist, it leap-frogged us and we got the project,” McCullough said. McCullough wasn’t content to just shoot celebrities and produce corporate and industrial videos.
He invented a device called an Eyeliner, which allows the person being interviewed to seem like he is looking directly at the camera, even though he’s sitting to the side of the equipment.
“The piece fits on front of the camera and has a 45-degree mirror,” McCullough explained. “It has been tremendous, especially with CEOs who might be nervous if they couldn’t look at the person who is asking the questions.”
For the past five years, TMP worked with Bell Helicopter and GES to create the opening morning experience and video content for Helicopter Association International (HAI), in such locations as Anaheim, Calif., Orlando, Fla., and Dallas.
“We get hired to be the overall creative director for messaging, content and experience,” McCullough explained. “We also produce the content.”
The 2013 event was held March 4 through March 7 in Las Vegas.
“This year’s show relied heavily on lighting effects within the booth,” McCullough said. “Since Bell was not introducing a new helicopter, we produced a knock-your-socks-off opening 4-minute film called ‘On A Mission,’ that dealt with Bell’s vertical markets, including HMES (like Emergency Medical Services), military, oil and gas, parapublic and corporate.”
Leslie McCullough, Terry’s wife of 17 years, serves as vice president executive producer for TMP. The couple had about four weeks to put the Bell project together.
“Leslie burned a lot of midnight oil before HAI,” McCullough explained. “It was a non-moving deadline, but we made it. I pulled three all-nighters in eight days. Then, once we got there, we were constantly working on the rotating video presentations. It was grueling.”
Their hard work paid off. This year’s event set new records for Bell. During the 3-day gathering, the company sold more than 50 helicopters.
“They sold so many, they gained a whole market share,” McCullough advised. “Their biggest customers are from Switzerland, Germany, South America, Russia and China.”
In 2005, the McCulloughs made the decision to relocate part of his operation to Reilly Springs, in part because of his father’s declining health. The elder McCullough died three years ago.
“The house that Leslie and I now live in has been in my family since 1919,” McCullough said.
Eighteen months ago, TMP consolidated their Longview and Dallas offices and moved everything to Reilly Springs.
“It’s the best thing we’ve ever done,” McCullough noted. “We purchased an AVID, a top of the line editing machine that big film studios use. Because our Bell project was so fast track, my senior editor and I were able to virtual edit at the same time without me having to park in a hotel or drive back and forth to Dallas. All we needed was a high speed internet connection.”
Having everything under one roof has its advantages. If he’s stressed, McCullough just gets up from his desk and walks into the next room to his studio to paint.
TMP’S next projects include producing videos for the Texas Department of Transportation Safety Rest Areas (SRA).
“The theme of the SRA in Salado is gristmills,” McCullough said. “The inside looks like a gristmill. You’d never know you’re in a rest stop.”
TMP’s portion of the SRA project has been to produce several 4-minute videos. So far, the company has done films on Route 66, The Peyote Rattlesnake Bomber Base that trained B-17 pilots during World War II, and one on wind power, while they are in the planning stages for a film about agriculture in the Hill Country.
The diversity of the company’s projects appeals to McCullough.
“One day, it’s doing $10 million helicopters,” he said with a laugh. “The next day, it’s out on a farm shooting a documentary or shooting an ultra-luxurious condominium in Dallas.”
McCullough is also busy with several fine arts projects. He’s really into developing new and exciting ways to use a canvas, including the use of hot beeswax and huge nuts and bolts.
“My art is very conceptual,” he noted. “Even though I may have a plan and do a little study sketch, I don’t know what I’m going to do until the canvas is stretched and I’m ready to go.”
Whether it’s tackling a major project to help one of the world’s largest corporations define its brand or working alone in the art studio, Terry McCullough will always be on a quest to find the most artistic, interesting way to express his visions.
“Anything I do is all about the visual culture,” he said, wrapping up the interview. “I have spent my entire life chasing the magic light.”
To view TMP’s opening video for the 2013 HAI event,
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