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Top Directors Who Started with Indie Films before Taking on Hollywood

Hollywood Directors

What would life be like without movies to keep us entertained? While listening to music is fun and playing video games is cool, there is nothing like watching a film to keep boredom at bay. Not only do movies transport us to new worlds without ever having to leave the house, but they also introduce us to new cultures and fresh ideas. Of course, movies are also fun and thrilling to catch. While you might think that every director in films started out in Hollywood, this is not always true.

Some of the top directors in the industry started out in indie films before moving into the big time. That allowed them to hone their craft away from the pressures of commercial success and to find their voice as a director in peace.

But which top directors currently active in Hollywood started off making independent films?

Katharina Otto-Bernstein

Katharina Otto-Bernstein is a name well-known in Hollywood for her top-class writing, producing, and directing. Did you know that she started as a writer for German Vogue and then moved into directing indie films before taking on Tinseltown? Her directing debut was the acclaimed 1990 TV documentary ‘Coming Home’ about the reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

After moving to the US for work, she directed 1992’s ‘The Second Greatest Story Ever Told’ before wowing critics with the indie film ‘Beautopia’ in 1998. This movie garnered a lot of acclaim for Otto-Bernstein and focused on the darker side of the modeling industry. Since then, she has made her way into Hollywood with the hit movie ‘Absolute Wilson’ in 2006 and ‘Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures’ in 2016 as a producer.

Quentin Tarantino

Another big name who started in indie films before taking on Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino. His 1992 indie hit ‘Reservoir Dogs’ really made an impact at the 1992’ Sundance Film Festival, for example. It showed a director who seemingly appeared out of nowhere and was ready to make films into a whole new era. After the success of ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ Tarantino had no trouble making waves in Hollywood.

For example, the follow-up, ‘Pulp Fiction,’ was a riotous, thrilling, and controversial take on what films could be. Since then, his many hit Hollywood films (such as ‘Inglorious Bastards’ and ‘Django Unchained) only serve to show how easily he went from indie director to Hollywood legend. With a legion of fans and a seemingly inexhaustible source of material, we can only wait to see what this film icon serves up next.

Wes Anderson

1993’s short film ‘Bottle Rocket’ proved an instant indie hit for director Anderson and gained him some pretty influential friends in Hollywood. Starring Luke and Owen Wilson, it used all of its 16 minutes to showcase what made this filmmaker so special. After this, he made ‘Rushmore’ in 1998, which added to his reputation.

A string of critical and commercial successes like ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, ‘The Darjeeling Limited, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ confirmed his status as fully-fledged Hollywood royalty. Known for his quirky characters and unique storytelling, Anderson shows that indie sensibilities can lead to big-screen success.

Jon Favreau

Most people now think of Jon Favreau as a top director in Hollywood. With films like ‘Elf,’ ‘The Jungle Book’ and the ‘Iron Man’ film franchise to his name, this is no surprise. But did you know he is one of the biggest names to move from indie films to Hollywood? His first film in 2001 was the low-budget indie crime caper ‘Made’ starring buddy Vince Vaughn. This included a screenplay written by Favreau and showed people that he could direct as well as he acted – some might say even better! After ‘Made,’ he wasted no time moving into Hollywood and becoming a big-time director.

Indie films a springboard to Hollywood

There is nothing like a Hollywood blockbuster to wow us – just look at the latest James Bond flick, ‘No Time To Die’. As the above shows, though, directors who make movies like this sometimes start with indie films. By showcasing their talents here, they tell bosses of the big studios in LA precisely what they can bring to the table. As Hollywood is always looking for the new talent behind the camera, it is no surprise to see filmmakers who dazzle with independent movies being snapped up.


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