Great Films Made By First-Time Filmmakers

Someone told me DEAD CIRCUS needs a prestige filmmaker to get made. That it’s too ambitious and its scope too big for a first-timer to pull off. But my response is that some of the best films ever made were directed by first-timers!  Here’s a preliminary list and maybe one day DEAD CIRCUS will be considered a worthy addition. This list is a work in progress that I just did off the top of my head… any suggestions? Let me know, and if I agree, I’ll include it on the list.

In alphabetical order:

12 ANGRY MEN, dir. Sidney Lumet

THE 400 BLOWS, dir. Francois Truffaut

AMERICAN BEAUTY, dir. Sam Mendes

THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON, dir. Niels Mueller

BADLANDS, dir. Terrence Malick

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, dir. Spike Jonze

BODY HEAT, dir. Lawrence Kasdan

BOILER ROOM, dir. Ben Younger

BOTTLE ROCKET, dir. Wes Anderson

BLOOD SIMPLE, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

THE BOONDOCK SAINTS, dir. Troy Duffy

BOYS DON’T CRY, dir. Kimberly Peirce

BOYZ N THE HOOD, dir. John Singleton

CAPOTE, dir. Bennett Miller

CITIZEN KANE, dir. Orson Welles

CITIZEN RUTH, dir. Alexander Payne

DISTRICT 9, dir. Neill Blomkamp

DONNIE DARKO, dir. Richard Kelly

DUEL, dir. Steven Spielberg

EASY RIDER, dir. Dennis Hopper

EL MARIACHI, dir. Robert Rodriguez

FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, dir. Amy Heckerling

FOLLOWING, dir. Christopher Nolan

FROZEN RIVER, dir. Courtney Hunt

HARD EIGHT, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

HUSTLE AND FLOW, dir. Craig Brewer

IN THE COMPANY OF MEN, dir. Neil Labute

INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN, dir. Neil Burger

KNIFE IN THE WATER, dir. Roman Polanski

THE MESSENGER, dir. Oren Moverman

THE ORPHANAGE, dir. Juan Antonio Bayona

PLAY MISTY FOR ME, dir. Clint Eastwood

PRIMER, dir. Shane Carruth

RESERVOIR DOGS, dir. Quentin Tarantino

RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, dir. Ryan Murphy

SHADOWS, dir. John Cassavetes

SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT, dir. Spike Lee

A SINGLE MAN, dir. Tom Ford

THE STERILE CUCKOO, dir. Alan Pakula

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK, dir. Charlie Kaufman

THX-1138, dir. George Lucas

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, dir. Mike Nichols


6 Responses to “Great Films Made By First-Time Filmmakers”

  1. How about “Gone Baby Gone”?

  2. I haven’t seen GONE BABY GONE yet… I’ll check it out and perhaps I’ll put it up here too.

  3. I suppose MEMENTO cannot truly be called a FIRST film for Chris Nolan, but it’s close.

    • Chris Nolan’s first feature was FOLLOWING, which I think is nearly as brilliant as his sophomore effort MEMENTO. He made it for less than $10,000 on 16mm short ends and shot it on weekends over the span of a year.

  4. Shakes the Clown by Bobcat Goldthwait…

  5. Don’t forget “Night of the Living Dead”, by George Romero. Hell of a film. And Herk Harvey’s “Carnival of Souls” (his first, and only, film, though). Cult classics. Yours can be one too. I have not read the book, but for what I’ve read so far, the story is meant to be a dark one. I wish you the best.
    Luigi, from Buenos Aires.

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