Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Joan Cunningham is an assistant director for Hollywood film and television productions. She was First Assistant Director of 2nd Unit filming on 2009;s Star Trek, along with Hal Olofsson.

Cunningham began her career in show business as a production assistant and stunt woman in the late 1980s. Her first film was the 1987 comedy Mannequin, which starred Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country's Kim Cattrall.

In 1986, Cunningham became a second assistant director on the television series Pee-wee's Playhouse. She then worked as a key second assistant director on the horror film Pet Sematary, which starred Denise Crosby and Brad Greenquist.

From 1990 through 1992, Cunningham was the Director of Production Administration at the now defunct Carolco Pictures. While at Carolco, she worked on such films as L.A. Story (which featured Iman and Patrick Stewart), The Doors, Chaplin, Basic Instinct, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (which featured Earl Boen and Jenette Goldstein).

After working as a first assistant director at SBK Pictures for two years (1992–1994), Cunningham turned to freelancing as both a first and second assistant director. Her credits as Second Assistant Director include Lolita (starring Frank Langella), The Parent Trap, and Paramount Pictures' Double Jeopardy (starring Ashley Judd and Bruce Greenwood).

Cunningham was Second Assistant Director under director John Woo on two films: 1997's Face/Off (featuring Harve Presnell and John Carroll Lynch) and 2000's Mission: Impossible II (from Paramount Pictures). She then served as Woo's 2nd Unit First Assistant Director on Mission: Impossible II, Windtalkers (starring Christian Slater) and Paramount's Paycheck.

Cunningham has worked solely as a First Assistant Director since 2001. Her credits have primarily included television series, including CBS' Las Vegas (which starred Nikki Cox) and NBC's Medical Investigation (which starred Neal McDonough). She is currently First Assistant Director on NBC's hit comedy series My Name Is Earl and the TNT drama series The Closer.

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