Graduates of the Corman filmmaking academy

Coppola, Scorsese, and James Cameron are just three of the directors who worked with Corman.

311_Roger Corman (photo credit: JaSunni)
311_Roger Corman
(photo credit: JaSunni)
Roger Corman has had various companies throughout his more than 50 years in Hollywood, but at all of them, he gave the best and brightest aspiring filmmakers their start. He is diplomatic, when asked whether he knew right away that those who went on to huge successes were extraordinarily talented, saying, “I thought everyone I hired was talented, that’s why I gave them a chance.” Here is a partial list of those who got their start from Corman:
Francis Ford Coppola: The director who went on to make the Godfather series and Apocalypse Now (and won an Oscar for directing Godfather II), directed his first film, the thriller Dementia 13, for Corman in 1963, for $22,000. His first job for Corman was writing English dialogue for a Russian science fiction movie Corman imported in 1962, called Battle Beyond the Stars.
Martin Scorsese: Scorsese won his Oscar in 2007 for the crime drama The Departed, and is arguably the most important director of his generation, with such acclaimed films as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Mean Streets on his resume. But his directorial debut was Boxcar Bertha (1972), a gritty, Depression-era labor drama for Corman, starring David Carradine and Barbara Hershey. His next movie, the highly personal crime drama Mean Streets, put him on the map as a major director. Scorsese says he offered Corman the chance to produce it, but Corman said he only would if the director changed the main characters from Italian Americans to blacks. Scorsese declined.
Peter Bogdanovich: The director of The Last Picture Show, What’s Up Doc? and Paper Moon got his start as Corman’s assistant on The Wild Angels. Corman then gave him the opportunity to direct Targets (1968), in which he intercut horror footage from The Terror (1963) with a contemporary story about a sniper.
James Cameron: The director of Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time, got his start as an art director and miniatures designer on the Corman film Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). He also worked on the art department of several other Corman films.
Ron Howard: The child actor and star of the Happy Days television
show got his first adult movie acting credit in the Corman filmEat My Dust (1976). Corman cast him inGrand Theft Auto (1977), and Howard agreed to do itif Corman allowed him to write and direct it, which Corman did. Howardis now one of the most highly regarded American directors, who won anOscar for A Beautiful Mind, and recently madeAngels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code andFrost/Nixon.
Jonathan Demme: Demme won an Oscar for directingSilence of the Lambs (1991). He started out as awriter and producer for Corman on the 1971 film Angels Hard asThey Come, and went on to direct the Corman exploitationfilms Caged Heat and Crazy Mama.
John Sayles: Independent filmmaker Sayles, who stillrefuses to work in the studio system, got his start as a writer andactor on the Corman film Piranha. He has gone on towrite and direct such acclaimed films as Return of theSecaucus Seven, Lone Star, City of Hope andHoneydripper.
Jack Nicholson: Although best known as anOscar-winning movie star, Nicholson wrote a number of scripts forCorman, among them The Trip (1967). Nicholson’sacting career had stalled in the 1950s, when he worked mainly in livetelevision, but Corman gave him a chance to act in the filmThe Cry Baby Killer in 1958, and he went on to keyroles in such films as Little Shop of Horrors andThe Terror.