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Before They Were Famous Directors...

Before They Were Famous Directors...

Several of today’s best directors (all of whom have made films you either know or love) used to do waaaay different stuff. Some of it surprising. Some of it just plain embarrassing. Here are a few noteworthy directors who have had very diverse career paths.

Peter Jackson

The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy have established Jackson as one of the best fantasy directors of all time, but if you went back and watched a few of his earliest films, you might be surprised. A very young Kate Winslet starred in one of Jackson’s first films, 1994’s Heavenly Creatures, a very dark tale about two teenaged girls who plot to kill one of their parents! Sample line: “All the best people have had chest and bone disease! It's all frightfully romantic!” These girls might even creep Gollum out!

David Fincher

Before The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network—even before Fight Club and Se7en—David Fincher was the go-to music video director (back when MTV actually aired music videos). Based on his film soundtracks, one would expect his pairings to have been Trent Reznor-esque—but instead, Fincher went the pop route, making videos for the likes of Madonna, Aerosmith, and Sting! Guess Fincher’s dark side came out when he started making feature-length movies!

Sam Raimi

Currently, he’s known for directing the upcoming OZ: The Great and Powerful and the first two Tobey Maguire-fronted Spiderman films, but back in the late 70s and early 80s, this guy was the king of gore-fests filled with over-the top humor (See: Evil Dead and its sequels).  This stuff is seriously demented and seriously hilarious! Raimi also directed the cult fave Darkman in 1990, which marked his first studio effort, as well as the beginnings of his cinematic interest in superheroes. While Fincher got darker over time, it seems as though Raimi got a lot lighter!

Robert Rodriguez

This dude is currently known for directing fun kid-centric fare like Spy Kids and The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl, but he’s also known for being the auteur of independent cinema. In the early 90s, Rodriguez made El Mariachi, a Spanish language flick that was meant to go straight to video. Rodriguez made it for $7000, using now-geriatric video recording devices to complete his audio tracks, and got the break of a lifetime when it caught on at festivals. He also directed Sin City, and has much bigger budgets to work with now, due to his scrappiness and innovation.

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker of the Star Trek: TNG Enterprise has been a longtime director, helming two Star Trek features. He still acts occasionally, but these days, Frakes is best known for his work behind the television cameras. He has directed episodes of many of shows, including Castle, Burn Notice, V, and Dollhouse. Seriously, he has directed episodes of like 50 different shows! You’ll probably see his name come up sooner or later! Watch for him!

Neill Blomkamp

This District 9 writer/director, who also wrote and directed the upcoming Matt Damon scifi thriller Elysium, started out working in 3-D animation, and was the lead animator in shows like Dark Angel and Stargate SG–1 before moving on to feature films. Blomkamp worked as an animator for over 5 years, showing that with a little pluck and some hard work, you can rock out all your eclectic interests if you want to!

What director's childhood home movies would you want to see?

Tags: movies, the social network, spiderman, the hobbit, oz the great and powerful, sam raimi, peter jackson, the lord of the rings, david fincher

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About the Author
Beth Mishler

Beth Mishler is a writer, producer, and pop culture connoisseur who has a weakness for the Whedonverse and all things sci-fi. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Beth currently lives in The Plains, Ohio, where she freelances, makes documentaries, and watches a kazillion hours of TV per week while anxiously awaiting the release of George R.R. Martin's next novel.

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