First they were writers, then they were writer/directors.
May 14, 2016 1:13 PM   Subscribe

There are plenty of successful writer-directors out there, but I'm curious about successful directors who started out as writers only (screenplays, novels, plays etc) before they transitioned to directing. I'm especially interested in minority or female directors.
posted by egeanin to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Chris McQuarrie
posted by puritycontrol at 1:22 PM on May 14, 2016

Audrey Wells.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:30 PM on May 14, 2016

There are lots of people with that trajectory. The first one that came to mind for me was Paul Schrader, and here's an article about screenwriters' directorial debuts. All men so far, I think. (I only skimmed that article, so I could have missed someone.)

Somehow, I can't think of any women who fit that off the top of my head. I'll come back if I do.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:30 PM on May 14, 2016

Sorry for them being all white men, but John Hughes, Oliver Stone, and Charlie Kaufman come to mind.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:41 PM on May 14, 2016

OK, I thought of Diablo Cody and Miranda July. They both started out writing.

I've thought of several women directors who I thought started out writing, but I keep being wrong.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:45 PM on May 14, 2016

Nancy Meyers.
posted by sk932 at 1:46 PM on May 14, 2016

Another white man, but Shane Black falls into the "started as a writer, now also directs."
posted by dismas at 1:47 PM on May 14, 2016

The Great Nora Ephron.
posted by sallybrown at 1:55 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Holy cats, how did I miss Margarethe von Trotta? She wrote and acted before she started directing.

Catherine Breillat as well. She published her first novel, which was adapted for film by someone else, when she was 17, then went on to direct her own films shortly after.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:22 PM on May 14, 2016

Lots of people sell a book or a spec screenplay and then go on to direct. Sometimes, once is enough (Diablo Cody has said directing is not thing and she doesn't plan to do it again.) Robin Swicord, Callie Khouri, Maya Angelou, Diane English, Jennifer Lynch, Elaine May (who was also a performer which is a more usual route for women), Kay Mellor, Phyllis Nagy, Nell Scovell, Jill Soloway.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:46 PM on May 14, 2016

Callie Khouri won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Thelma & Louise (her first produced script). It took over ten years for her to get her first feature directing gig, even though she had directed music videos before T&L, and the bump to director for an Oscar-winning male screenwriter would have been an assumed perq and would have happened much faster. She's done several interviews opening discussing the sexism she faced.
posted by ljshapiro at 2:55 PM on May 14, 2016

Michael Crichton.
posted by StephenF at 6:24 PM on May 14, 2016

Vince Gilligan. Maybe Amy Heckerling?
posted by Room 641-A at 7:22 PM on May 14, 2016

Alex Garland -- a couple novels, then a few screenplays, then directed Ex Machina (from his own script) with more in production.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 7:44 AM on May 15, 2016

Mel Brooks started writing TV comedy sketches.
posted by Homer42 at 8:34 AM on May 15, 2016

Script girl is like continuity/script supervisor. Mimi Leder started as a script supervisor.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:28 PM on May 15, 2016

John Patrick Shanley (Joe vs the Volcano, Doubt)

Lorene Scafaria (a writer, then adapted a screenplay for "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist", then wrote and directed "Seeking A Friend for the End of the World", then wrote and directed "The Meddler.")
posted by seasparrow at 10:49 PM on May 15, 2016

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