The Roger Corman Film School

by halfnhalf

Created 02/14/13

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Many have heard of James Cameron, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, Jack Nicholson and a lot of other people. However, many got their starts in the film industry by working under one man: B-movie legend Roger Corman. Corman practically ushered in the drive-in era of movies but also proved to be an invaluable force in filmmaking, shooting pictures as quickly as two days, whether good or bad. Here's a list of movies directed by people who began their careers at the Corman Film School.

  • Demme got his start by working as a writer/producer on Corman's "Angels Hard as They Come"....

  • ...before sitting in the director's chair for later Corman films "Caged Heat", "Crazy Mama" and "Fighting Mad". Corman later made cameo appearances in many of Demme's films such as 2004's "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Philadelphia" to name a few.

  • Before he was basking in Oscar glory, one of Scorsese's earliest efforts was "Boxcar Bertha", marking his first collaboration with actress Barbara Hershey, who would later appear in this controversial picture. According to Scorsese when he screened a rough cut of the film for friend and mentor John Cassavetes, the legendary independent filmmaker and later Criterion staple, said "Marty, you've just spent a whole year of your life making a piece of shit. It's a good picture but you're better than the kind of people who make this kind of movie. Don't get hooked into the exploitation market, just try and do something different."

  • Bogdanovich was a film scholar toiling away for a break in the industry after jetting New York City for Los Angeles, and his introduction to Corman had begun at a screening when the two met. Corman liked an Esquire article Bogdanovich had written and offered him a job writing, which later lead to Bogdanovich directing his first feature "Targets" with the advice of some notable filmmakers like Samuel Fuller (he of "Shock Corridor" and many other Criterion labels). Bogdanovich later said of his experiences with the Corman Film School: ""I went from getting the laundry to directing the picture in three weeks. Altogether, I worked 22 weeks – preproduction, shooting, second unit, cutting, dubbing – I haven't learned as much since."

  • Character actor Paul Bartel went onto work with Corman in the 70's, working both in front of and behind the camera as a director of movies like "Death Race 2000", "Hollywood Boulevard" and "Cannonball" (featuring the early work of cinematographer and Jonathan Demme collaborator Tak Fujimoto).

  • Arguably the most prolific of the Criterion label, Nicolas Roeg was shooting classic movies like "Lawrence of Arabia" before directing his own such as the films mentioned here.

  • Cult movie stalwart Hellman began as a producer at Corman's production company, before moving onto a career as an independent film director, with this notable existential road trip.

  • Not directed by anyone from the Corman Film School, but written by such as actor Jack Nicholson (who spent the early part of his career in Corman classics like "Little Shop of Horrors", "The Raven" and "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre") in this meta-take on the Monkees' squeaky clean image.

  • Jack Nicholson was paying his dues with in roles with Corman's earlier features, becoming a frequent collaborator with Corman throughout the 60's to inspire him to make his one directorial debut in this counterculture effort. Of course, we know how Nicholson's acting career did soon after.

  • Actors Studio-trained Hopper got his earliest breaks by working for Corman (appearing with "Easy Rider" collaborators Peter Fonda & Jack Nicholson in "The Trip"), before hitting the open road with Peter Fonda on this influential 60's hit as a director.

  • Fuller is not a Corman alum, but co-screenwriter turned future director Curtis Hanson was (Hanson of "L.A. Confidential", "Wonder Boys" and "8 Mile"). The Oscar-winner co-wrote the Corman-produced "Dunwich Horror".


  • By Liam Molenda
    March 06, 2013
    02:30 PM

    Corman was indeed a genius in his own way, Great list!
  • By Garage_Alien
    March 06, 2013
    04:03 PM

    You missed one, Equinox director Jack Woods worked with Roger Corman with Tales of Terror (1962)
  • By Patrick_C
    March 06, 2013
    04:40 PM

    And this is why THE 'BURBS should get a Criterion release.
    • By Aguirre
      March 09, 2013
      12:46 PM

      If Repo Man is deserving of a Criterion release (it is), then The 'Burbs totally is.
    • By Naked_Island
      June 23, 2013
      08:03 PM

      Yes to The 'Burbs!
    • By Hobart
      July 11, 2016
      03:50 AM

      I think Matinee would make a great Criterion release too.
    • By Blondie-Wan
      July 25, 2017
      09:28 PM

      Amen to Matinee! And The 'Burbs, as well!
    • By halfnhalf
      August 02, 2017
      05:28 PM

      @Hobart & @Blondie-Wan: I second that on "Matinee", given how it celebrates culture and examines mid-20th century America. Arrow Video released their own U.K. version and it's going to be under the Shout! Factory label this year.
  • By Monty Britton
    March 07, 2013
    10:22 AM

    Its easy to mention the big money maker names. Its the smaller names like Stephanie Rothman and Jack Hill whose films have a lasting impact for classic Corman type films from the '70s. Because I don't see much of Cormans influence in these big studio directors.
  • By Craig J. Clark
    March 07, 2013
    01:52 PM

    I'm glad you mentioned Roeg, but you neglected to bring up the Corman connection: he photographed The Masque of the Red Death.
  • By Scott_DAgostino
    March 07, 2013
    03:53 PM

    This list is similar to Cracked's list. Although, Cracked didn't mention Roeg, Hanson, or Nicholson.
  • By Milo_Mindbender
    March 10, 2013
    07:05 PM

    Well you missed the opportunity to add Rock N Roll High School and Little Shop Of Horrors to the collection, how about Bucket Of Blood & Machine Gun Kelly?
  • By Eric Levy
    March 12, 2013
    02:44 PM

    Terrific list! Corman appears in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS too.
  • By JustinDW
    March 19, 2013
    10:06 PM

    One of my favorite lists so far! If only Criterion could find it in their hearts to restore and release Corman's eight Poe pictures, an entire era of cinematic horror would get the glorious presentation it deserves!
  • By Sean Ramsdell
    April 24, 2016
    11:45 AM

    Vincent Price (Baron Of Arizona) and Peter Lorre (The Man Who Knew Too Much) also appeared on Corman's films