They say the easiest way to make your first feature is to do a horror movie. They’re cheap and have an enormous audience, and even if you don’t hit big with it, there’s a chance for either a cult following or even just the benefit of having something under your belt, to show producers when developing your next project. What kind of movie is best to do second? It’s not scientific, but I have a theory that the coming-of-age genre is a good place to go for a follow-up. Maybe it doesn’t have to be your sophomore feature, but somewhere early on you can do well to come of age yourself, as a filmmaker, by delivering a story of kids or teens growing up. The career that inspired this idea is Peter Jackson‘s. He was doing okay with his splatter films and R-rated puppets before directing Heavenly Creatures, but that’s the one where he suddenly displayed great maturity as a filmmaker, and it’s the one that put him on the map critically and internationally. The movie, which turns 20 today (if born at its debut at the Venice Film Festival), was more a passion project for Jackson’s partner, Fran Walsh, which makes sense — it usually takes a woman to help us boys grow up. It also remains Jackson’s best movie yet, which is probably something to discuss for another time. For now, I thought we could see what other directors broke out best with a coming-of-age movie.