Veteran unit production manager and longtime Directors Guild of America board member Duncan Henderson died June 21 in Valencia, California, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
“The Directors Guild of America mourns the passing of National Board member and UPM Duncan Henderson. A DGA member for over 40 years, Duncan’s level of passion, service and commitment was beyond exemplary,” DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter said in a statement.
Presented with the DGA’s Frank Capra Achievement Award just two years ago for his career achievement in the industry and service to the Guild, Henderson was best known for his work as an assistant director, a producer and a unit production manager, the top below-the-line staff position on a film set. His feature credits include contemporary classics like “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” “Dead Poet’s Society,” “The Perfect Storm” and “Home Alone 2.”
“No matter how massive the film … Duncan was always available as a leader, a mentor and a friend,” Linka Glatter continued. “He gave the same wise counsel and thoughtful consideration to award-winning directors and the production assistant on her first industry job.”
Henderson joined the DGA over 40 years ago, in 1980, after graduating from the DGA-Producer Assistant Directors Training Program. He was first elected to the National Board in 2005 and went on to serve eight consecutive terms. Throughout his tenure, he was very involved with the day-to-day of the Guild, serving, per the DGA, on the negotiations committee for the 2005, 2008, 2014, 2017 and 2020 negotiations cycles, and as a delegate to the DGA Biennial Conventions. He was also a trustee of the very training program he graduated from in 1980, beginning in 2004.
“I was like all of my compatriots in the DGA — busy,” Henderson said upon receiving the Frank Capra Achievement Award in 2020. “At some point I realized that other members who were just as busy as me were making time to contribute to the Guild with their service. I decided to follow their lead and join the AD/UPM Council. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It expanded the entire scope of my motion picture career.”
“It is difficult to overstate how much Duncan meant to the DGA and his fellow members,” Linka Glatter concluded. “His love for his Guild and its members shone brightly through his outstanding leadership. … Our thoughts are with Duncan’s wife Michele, his children Jessica, Ian, Fiona and Ivy, and his many colleagues and friends. He will be deeply missed.”