POSTED October 8 2012

Ava DuVernay: Where do directors come from?

Ava DuVernay

In yesterday’s NY Times, I wrote about Ava DuVernay, the screenwriter, filmmaker, publicist and distributor.  In the olden days, i.e. the 1980s, she would have been called a “hyphenate.” Today, we call it “multi-tasker.”

She did not take the conventional path, i.e. film school,  to movie directing. As she tells it, as a publicist she spent a lot of time on movie sets and thus had a front-row seat at the best film school there is.

Middle of Nowhere, her character study of  a wife (Emayatzy Corinealdi) doing time in emotional limbo while her husband (Omari Hardwick) serves a prison sentence , opens Friday  (October 12) in five cities, including NY, Philadelphia and Washington DC. Don’t miss it.

Other unconventional routes to the director’s chair? Lee Daniels started out as a casting director. Anne Fletcher and Adam Shankman were choreographers. Agnes Varda  and Mira Nair came from still photography, Elaine May and Mike Nichols from stand-up comedy, Alfred Hitchcock and Claude Autant-Lara from production design, Mitchell Leisen from the costume department, Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith from behinds the counter of video stores. Can you think of others?





  1. Joe says:

    I’m intrigued by the relatively short-lived careers of a bunch of directors who came out of TV to helm some pretty high-profile ’80s-’90s films and then seemingly disappeared – namely, Penny Marshall, Danny DeVito, Leoanrd Nimoy and Rob Reiner. Of this group, only Ron Howard and Garry Marshall have remained active behind the camera.

  2. Gary Kramer says:

    Wasn’t Kenny Ortega a choreographer turned director.
    Joel Schumacher was a costume designer turned filmmaker.

    I will think of others…

  3. Reelblack says:

    Johnathan Demme was a publicist.

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