The First Films of 10 Famous Directors

The surprising and surreal films that gave these iconic film directors their early starts

A poster for director Francis Ford Coppola's first film, Battle Beyond the Sun A.P. Dovzenko Filmstudio


Flea-market hero and filmmaker Gary Huggins recently unearthed director Robert Altman's first film—a documentary short called Modern Football. He found the gem at a Kansas City area sale, where he purchased several old film reels for a whopping ten bucks. Imagine his surprise when one of them turned out to be the Gosford Park director's lost movie. The early work is one of 27 sponsored shorts the filmmaker made for Kansas City company Calvin Communications, and no other print is know to exist. The director even makes a cameo as a sports reporter—and you can watch the entire thing on YouTube if you're curious.

Every great filmmaker found their start somewhere. Although some would probably like to forget those early works, we've decided to pull a mom-breaks-out-the-old-school-photos moment and share them with you. Even in their younger years, these filmmakers were obviously destined for greatness—space creatures, rough-cut animation, and all.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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