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Great Directors with Terrible First Movies

Caleb Ward

The following videos prove that even the best directors can have a rough start.

As filmmakers we should always strive to make the best films possible but we aren’t always going to make life-changing movies, especially in the beginning. It’s easy to get discouraged by comparing your work to that of famous directors, but even the best directors have a bumpy start. In the following article we take a look at some incredibly successful directors with terrible first movies.

Peter Jackson – Bad Taste (1987)

Bad Taste was Peter Jackson’s first feature length film. Jackson played two of the main characters and had an initial budget of $25,000 dollars. The film has been heavily criticized for having an excessive amount of gore…the name says it all. Seven films later he would go on to direct the Fellowship of the Ring.

The Plot: Aliens invade the New Zealand village of Kaihoro to harvest humans for their intergalactic fast food chain. Now it’s up to four paramilitary operatives to fight to save the small town.

Francis Ford Coppola – Dementia 13 (1963)

Dementia 13 was Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature length film. Before directing Dementia 13, Coppola had written and directed 2 softcore adult films. Dementia 13 was his first serious film with a budget of $42,000 dollars. Like Bad Taste, Dementia 13 featured a lot of blood and gore. Eight films later he would go on to direct The Godfather.

The Plot: After inadvertently causing the heart attack of her husband, Louise Haloran tries to have herself written into her rich mother-in-law’s will. When she pays a visit to her husband’s family castle in Ireland an axe-wielding murderer begins to kill off members of the family.

Ron Howard – Grand Theft Auto (1977)

Grand Theft Auto was Ron Howard’s first feature length film. The film cost about $600,000 to make and brought in about $15 million worldwide. So in financial terms, Grand Theft Auto was a success but critics agree that Grand Theft Auto is one of Ron Howards worst films. Ron also played the main character Sam Freeman. Ron would later go on to direct Apollo 13.

The Plot: A rich girl steals her dad’s Rolls Royce to get married in Las Vegas. However, her angry parents, a jealous suitor, and a bunch of reward seekers are determined to stop her.

Oliver Stone – Seizure (1974)

Oliver Stone’s feature length directoral debut was disliked by critics and audiences alike. The movie is so bad that it has never officially been released on DVD. To add insult to injury, one of the film’s producers was gangster Michael Thevis, who used the film as a way to launder money. Three films later Stone would go on to direct Platoon, a film that won 4 Academy Awards.

The Plot: Edmond Blackton, a horror story writer, suffers from a reoccurring nightmare in which three bizarre figures terrorize him and his family. As he writes, the dream slowly becomes a reality.

Lucky for us the full film is on Youtube!

So there you have it, four examples of famous directors who have had awful theatrical debuts. If you are ever feeling down about your film quality just remember, even some of the greatest directors had a rough start. Even if you have made some bad films, you’re in good company.

One of the great things about being a director as a life choice is that it can never be mastered. Every story is its own kind of expedition, with its own set of challenges. – Ron Howard

Do you know of any other directors with terrible first movies? Did  you make a terrible first movie? Let us know in the comments below.