So your independent movie was a hit. What comes next? For some, it’s a leap to studio filmmaking. Here’s how four directors moved up, and what they found once they got there.
When opportunity knocked, Gail Mancuso walked through the door, and she’s been directing hit comedies like Roseanne, Friends, and Dharma & Greg ever since. With her recent Emmy for Modern Family, she became the first female director to win twice for comedy direction.
The numbers are appalling. In 2013, only nine percent of DGA features released in theaters were directed by women. To inspire, encourage, and hopefully promote change, we interviewed some of those who succeeded in getting their films made. Here are their stories.
Richard Linklater has always been fascinated by showing how lives change over a long period. In Boyhood, his latest and most ambitious film, he cast a young boy and watched him grow up—for 12 years.
After the early success of Barbershop and Fantastic Four, Tim Story has experienced the ups and down of a director’s life. Now with Ride Along and Think Like a Man Too, his career is on the rebound.
In her 30-year career in television, Lee Shallat Chemel has proven adept at staging comedy and working with actors. But perhaps most importantly, she learned to have fun on the set.
In directing some of the most acclaimed commercials in recent years, Lance Acord goes for a casual feel that's anything but easy to achieve.
Suzanne Smith is the only woman directing pro football and NCAA basketball. She credits DGA mentors with helping her to reach her goal.
Michelle MacLaren went from doing almost any job on the set to directing some of the most brutal episodes of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. For her, the rougher the better.
Hooked on directing at an early age, Tom Hooper used his experience in soaps and the theater to create the intimate details of The King’s Speech and the grand gestures of Les Misérables.
Seith Mann’s steady rise in television owes much to his natural talent and his ability to stay calm in the face of obstacles.
In her diverse and accomplished career, Mimi Leder has brought a sharp eye and fluid camera to big-budget features and emotionally charged TV series. For her, it’s all about what the characters need.
Whether it’s a pill-popping math genius, a washed-up wrestler, or a haunted ballet dancer, Darren Aronofsky finds a way to get inside his characters’ heads. His latest challenge in Noah is making the biblical disaster story come to life.
As the first American woman to direct a Chinese production in China, Dennie Gordon had to cross the cultural barrier. Now she’s a director in demand 6,000 miles from home.
Breaking in with the indie feature But I'm a Cheerleader, prolific TV and film director Jamie Babbit got off to a quick start—and hasn’t slowed down since.
Alfonso Cuarón learned to direct in his native Mexico, traveled to Hogwarts for Harry Potter, and a dystopian future for Children of Men. For his latest excursion, Gravity, he goes spacewalking.
Director Anthony Hemingway started his career as one of the youngest ADs in Guild history, eventually helming numerous episodic shows and serving as director-producer on Treme. But it’s his attention to the human element that has defined his style.
At least not for Noam Murro, who has won two DGA Awards for groundbreaking commercials and conquered tricky special effects in his upcoming feature, 300: Rise of an Empire. But the one thing he hopes all his work has in common is heart.
Alan Taylor went to film school, but he picked up his practical knowledge on acclaimed TV series like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones. Now he’s learning about green screen on Thor: The Dark World.
As much as any contemporary director, Sofia Coppola has captured the feeling of young people adrift in a seductive world. With The Bling Ring, she continues her intimate exploration of lives in transition.
Director Kim Fields started out as a child actor on the ’80s sitcom The Facts of Life. Eventually that experience led her to a successful career behind the camera.
Patty Jenkins had always had a taste for crime and comedy. Going from Monster to Arrested Development was no big deal.
Jorn Winther directed the original Frost/Nixon interviews and captured the fallen president’s confession for the record. Even he was surprised by what happened.
Jessica Yu didn’t go to film school and started out making eclectic documentaries. Though she has moved into TV and features, she still tries to keep it personal.
Warsaw-born Agnieszka Holland has been directing politically and culturally charged features for more than 40 years-and more recently, American TV.
With the orneriness of a cowboy, Sam Peckinpah chronicled the dying days of the Old West in films like The Wild Bunch and Ride the High Country. His take on values and violence is still influencing directors today.
Patricia Riggen may be the only Mexican-born woman directing feature films in Hollywood.
Once forbidden to travel outside his homeland, acclaimed director Zhang Yimou was recently in the U.S. to talk about his latest international epic. Does that mean a thawing in cinematic relations with China? Maybe. Maybe not.
In a career that spanned the history of cinema from silent to sound, dodged the Nazis, and navigated the studios, Fritz Lang proved himself a master craftsman—and artist—for the ages.
As chairman of the DGA’s Special Projects Committee for 24 years, Robert Wise guided the invaluable program and enriched the lives and careers of Guild members.
Any look at the history of directing should include Alice Guy-Blaché, Dorothy Arzner, and Ida Lupino. Not because they were women, but because of their contribution to the craft.
In a 1960 magazine article, Ingmar Bergman wrote how a film begins for him—with a chance remark, a few bars of music, a shaft of light across the street. His respect for the magic of movies remains an inspiration for directors today.
With hits like 27 Dresses and The Proposal, Anne Fletcher has gone from a choreographer in demand to a director who knows the score. But for her, it’s the story that still counts.
With outrageous sight gags and biological misfires, the Farrelly Brothers pushed the bounds of modern comedy. But in films like There's Something About Mary and Fever Pitch they're also romantics.
Robert Aldrich left a family fortune for a rough and tumble career in Hollywood. He became an industry leader, president of the Guild, and made some very good movies--and one masterpiece.
Harry Potter may have the magic, but for the last six years David Yates has been calling the shots at Hogwarts. While simultaneously filming the last two adventures, the director pauses to look at the Potter process.
Jon Favreau made his screen debut as a hipster in Swingers, but as a director has lost none of his joy for storytelling.
Alexander Mackendrick came to America and directed Sweet Smell of Success, one of Hollywood's darkest films. But when his curious career stalled, he became a respected film professor for two decades.
With films like Z and Missing, Costa-Gavras almost single-handedly invented the modern political thriller and influenced a generation of directors.
By not listening to traditional industry wisdom about how things should be done, Tyler Perry has invented his own brand of comedy-as well as his own brand.
Inspired by the silent clowns, Blake Edwards created The Pink Panther franchise and some of the craftiest comedies to come out of Hollywood. But sight gags, mistaken identities and flying pies were not his only tricks.
Nora Ephron continues her quest for the well-crafted comedy with Julie & Julia about super chef Julia Child. But, as she says, it's not as easy as it looks.
Kathryn Bigelow has always been a director with a lot of energy. In her new war film, The Hurt Locker, she takes her high-wire intensity to new heights.
It took a swashbuckling director like Gore Verbinski to go off to the four corners of the world to film the two sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean back to back.
Few directors have had a more varied and unpredictable career than Gus Van Sant. His latest passion project is the story of slain and openly gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk.
Richard Schickel is best known as a film critic, but he has been making documentaries about movies for almost as long as he's written about them. His latest-and most ambitious-is a five-part history of Warner Bros. studio.
Jim Sheridan, director of In America and My Left Foot, goes by intuition in searching for the emotional truth of a film. If he doesn't feel it, it's not real.
After a soaring career on the British stage, Sam Mendes made his film debut with American Beauty. But he's still more excited about great acting than he is about a spectacular shot.
Two masters of the screen, Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni, died on the same day last summer. Their introspection opened the way to a cinema of questioning and ambiguity.
United 93 director Paul Greengrass has applied the techniques he learned in the trenches of British documentary to both real-life dramas and Hollywood pictures.
Guillermo del Toro loves to assemble the pieces of a film to see how they fit. For Pan's Labyrinth, he created a child's magical world side-by-side with the horrors of war.
When he directed High School Musical, Kenny Ortega had no idea it was going to turn into a preteen phenomenon. Working on the sequel, he tried to capture the same energy.
Women directors have been shamefully under-employed in the industry for years. We brought together a group of prominent female directors to discuss ways to address the issue.
With his latest film, Volver, Pedro Almodóvar-the most acclaimed Spanish director since Luis Buñuel-returns to his hometown to explore his cinematic roots.
Alejandro González Iñárritu invites the Quarterly into the editing room as he puts together Babel, his latest multi-story film.
The first black director to make a studio film helped create a genre with Shaft. But his biggest contribution was opening the door for a new generation of black filmmakers.
Director Elia Kazan had the script of his life but couldn't find the money to make it. And, Brando wasn't interested. In this excerpt from Kazan: A Biography, the director puts the pieces together to create an American classic.
John Cassavetes was a fiercely independent spirit, conveying passion, defiance and anger with a violent energy concealed just beneath the surface — if it was concealed at all.