8 First Time Directors Who Got Hired For Major Films


This week WB hired first time director Seth Grahame-Smith to direct their upcoming movie about The Flash. While this seems like a gamble, it isn’t the first time that a newbie director has been tapped for a major blockbuster. We explore some of the most notable examples.

People don’t just get handed million-dollar blockbusters, nor do studios go door-to-door looking for someone to direct the next Jurassic Park. That’s why the following list of first time directors – while seemingly out of nowhere – certainly had backgrounds directing stuff like music videos or commercials.  

Still – they were untested in feature filmmaking, and to the un-obsessed public it would appear that studios simply plucked a dude off the street. Like giving a small child a semi truck, the results were mixed.

8. Simon West – Con Air


Honestly there are way bigger films I could have put in place of Con Air. For example, you won’t see J.J. Abrams on this list despite him starting his feature career with Mission Impossible 3. The reason why is simple: J.J. Abrams didn’t direct “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.

Yep. Simon West, the director who began his career with an awesome action film starring a handful of actors who were probably way too good to be there is also the person we can thank for Rickrolling. Aside from Rick Astley, that is.

7. Marcus Nispel – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


I have a theory on horror movie remakes – a good formula in terms of gauging the quality: If the original’s sequels were terrible, then remake will be terrible. Evil Dead got a good remake with highly favored sequels, Halloween got a so-so remake because of it’s mixed quality sequels, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre got some terrible sequels, and a terrible remake.

The reason? The sequels point out how much you can do with a plot before people are sick of it – in Texas Chainsaw’s case, the only shining light was seeing Dennis Hopper go berserk with a chainsaw.

Anyway, I think I’m supposed to mention that this is the first feature for Marcus Nispel, who has yet to make something that didn’t piss me off. Nispel came to it from directing music video docs and went right back to them.

6. McG – Charlie’s Angels


I remember watching, for some ungodly reason, the behind the scenes features for the first Charlie’s Angels DVD. From them, I remember thinking that the one thing McG had going for him was that he seemed at least genuinely excited about making the movie. Unfortunately that was the only thing he had going for him.

Before remaking the old TV show, he was shooting such music videos as “Walking On The Sun” and “Pretty Fly For A White Guy” – which means that surprisingly enough, Terminator Salvation is probably the best thing he’s done.

5. Rupert Sanders – Snow White And The Huntsman


By this point you’ve probably figured out why the title uses the term “major films” and not “good films.” Snow White And The Huntsman probably wasn’t that bad – just passable and forgettable. I say “probably” because after watching this movie I immediately forgot every plot point.

Before getting picked for a live action Snow White, Rupert Sanders did a short film called Black Hole and nothing else. You can watch it here if you feel like wondering why the hell someone thought this guy should direct a major film that didn’t involve annoying laughter and HR Giger-inspired tail sex montages.

David is a video editor, writer, and movie fanatic. After graduating from Full Sail University he now spends his days in Western Massachusetts working as a freelance article and sketch writer, as well as a comedy workshop moderator for Cracked.com. (Click Here to View David's work on Cracked.com) He enjoys over-analyzing movies, punk rock, and referring to himself in the third person.

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