The Most Successful & Powerful Filmmakers (producers, directors...)

by Death_is_Good | created - 27 Sep 2013 | updated - 27 Sep 2013 | Public

1. Michael Bay

Producer | Armageddon

A graduate of Wesleyan University, Michael Bay spent his 20s working on advertisements and music videos. His first projects after film school were in the music video business. He created music videos for Tina Turner, Meat Loaf, Lionel Richie, Wilson Phillips, Donny Osmond and Divinyls. His work won...

2. Steven Spielberg

Producer | Schindler's List

One of the most influential personalities in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg is Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. He has an extraordinary number of commercially successful and critically acclaimed credits to his name, either as a director, ...

3. Robert Zemeckis

Writer | Back to the Future

A whiz-kid with special effects, Robert is from the Spielberg camp of film-making (Steven Spielberg produced many of his films). Usually working with writing partner Bob Gale, Robert's earlier films show he has a talent for zany comedy (Romancing the Stone (1984), 1941 (1979)) and special effect ...

4. James Cameron

Writer | Avatar

James Francis Cameron was born on August 16, 1954 in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada. He moved to the United States in 1971. The son of an engineer, he majored in physics at California State University before switching to English, and eventually dropping out. He then drove a truck to support his ...

5. Ron Howard

Actor | Arrested Development

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is one of this generation's most popular directors. From the critically acclaimed dramas A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Apollo 13 (1995) to the hit comedies Parenthood (1989) and Splash (1984), he has created some of Hollywood's most memorable films.

Howard ...

6. George Lucas

Writer | Star Wars

George Walton Lucas, Jr. was raised on a walnut ranch in Modesto, California. His father was a stationery store owner and he had three siblings. During his late teen years, he went to Thomas Downey High School and was very much interested in drag racing. He planned to become a professional racecar ...

7. Tim Burton

Producer | Edward Scissorhands

Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California, to Jean Rae (Erickson), who owned a cat-themed gift shop, and William Reed Burton, who worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department. He spent most of his childhood as a recluse, drawing cartoons, and watching old movies (he was ...

8. Chris Columbus

Producer | Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Ohio, Chris Columbus was first inspired to make movies after seeing "The Godfather" at age 15. After enrolling at NYU film school, he sold his first screenplay (never produced) while a sophomore there. After graduation Columbus tried to sell his fourth script, "...

9. Peter Jackson

Producer | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Peter Jackson was born as an only child in a small coast-side town in New Zealand in 1961. When a friend of his parents bought him a super 8 movie camera (because she saw how much he enjoyed taking photos), the then eight-year-old Peter instantly grabbed the thing to start recording his own movies,...

10. Ridley Scott

Producer | The Martian

Described by film producer Michael Deeley as "the very best eye in the business", director Ridley Scott was born on November 30, 1937 in South Shields, Tyne and Wear (then County Durham). His father was an officer in the Royal Engineers and the family followed him as his career posted him ...

11. Tony Scott

Producer | Domino

Tony Scott was a British-born film director and producer. He was the youngest of three brothers, one of whom is fellow film director Ridley Scott. He was born in North Shields, Northumberland, England to parents Jean and Colonel Francis Percy Scott. As a result of his father's career in the British...

12. Christopher Nolan

Writer | Dunkirk

Best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear, storytelling, acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan was born on July 30, 1970 in London, England. Over the course of 15 years of filmmaking, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made.

...

13. Gore Verbinski

Director | Rango

Gore Verbinski, one of American cinema's most inventive directors who was a punk-rock guitarist as a teenager and had to sell his guitar to buy his first camera, is now the director of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) which made the industry record for highest opening weekend of ...

14. John Lasseter

Writer | Toy Story 2

Although born in Hollywood John and his twin sister, Johanna were raised in Wittier near Los Angeles. His parents were Jewell Mae (Risley), an art teacher, and Paul Eual Lasseter, a parts manager at a Chevrolet dealership. His mother's profession contributed to his interest in animation and ...

15. Martin Scorsese

Director | Taxi Driver

Martin Charles Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, to Catherine Scorsese (née Cappa) and Charles Scorsese, who both worked in Manhattan's garment district, and whose families both came from Palermo, Sicily. He was raised in the neighborhood of Little Italy, which later ...

16. David Fincher

Director | Se7en

David Fincher was born in 1962 in Denver, Colorado, and was raised in Marin County, California. When he was 18 years old he went to work for John Korty at Korty Films in Mill Valley. He subsequently worked at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) from 1981-1983. Fincher left ILM to direct TV commercials...

17. Sam Mendes

Producer | Road to Perdition

Samuel Alexander Mendes was born on August 1, 1965 in Reading, England, UK to parents James Peter Mendes, a retired university lecturer, and Valerie Helene Mendes, an author who writes children's books. Their marriage didn't last long, James divorced Sam's mother in 1970 when Sam was just 5-...

18. Quentin Tarantino

Writer | Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Jerome Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. His father, Tony Tarantino, is an Italian-American actor and musician from New York, and his mother, Connie (McHugh), is a nurse from Tennessee. Quentin moved with his mother to Torrance, California, when he was four years old.

In January of...

19. Gary Ross

Writer | Pleasantville

Gary Ross is an American writer, director and actor born November 3rd, 1956 in Los Angeles, California. His father was screenwriter Arthur A. Ross (1920 - 2008). After writing for television series The Hitchhiker (1983) in 1986, Ross broke through by penning the Tom Hanks hit Big (1988), his first ...

20. Nancy Meyers

Writer | It's Complicated

Nancy Meyers was born on December 8, 1949 in Pennsylvania, USA as Nancy Jane Meyers. She is a writer and producer, known for It's Complicated (2009), Something's Gotta Give (2003) and The Holiday (2006). She was previously married to Charles Shyer.

21. Joel Coen

Writer | Fargo

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for Fargo (1996), A Serious Man (2009) and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child.

22. Ethan Coen

Producer | A Serious Man

Ethan Coen was born on September 21, 1957 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Ethan Jesse Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for A Serious Man (2009), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) and Fargo (1996). He has been married to Tricia Cooke since October 2, 1990. They have two children.

23. Louis Leterrier

Director | The Incredible Hulk

Louis Leterrier was born on June 17, 1973 in Paris, France. He is a director and producer, known for The Incredible Hulk (2008), The Transporter (2002) and Unleashed (2005).

24. Guy Ritchie

Director | Sherlock Holmes

Guy Ritchie was born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK on September 10, 1968. After watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) as a child, Guy realized that what he wanted to do was make films. He never attended film school, saying that the work of film school graduates was boring and ...

25. Kathryn Bigelow

Director | The Hurt Locker

A very talented painter, Kathryn spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. At 20, she won a scholarship to the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. She was given a studio in a former Offtrack Betting building, literally in an old bank vault, where she made art and waited to be ...

26. Frank Darabont

Writer | The Walking Dead

Three-time Oscar nominee Frank Darabont was born in a refugee camp in 1959 in Montbeliard, France, the son of Hungarian parents who had fled Budapest during the failed 1956 Hungarian revolution. Brought to America as an infant, he settled with his family in Los Angeles and attended Hollywood High ...

27. Ian Bryce

Producer | Saving Private Ryan

Ian Bryce is a producer and assistant director, known for Saving Private Ryan (1998), Almost Famous (2000) and The Island (2005).

28. Joe Roth

Producer | The Great Debaters

Joe Roth was born on June 13, 1948 in New York City, New York, USA as Joseph Emanuel Roth. He is a producer and director, known for The Great Debaters (2007), Maleficent (2014) and The Forgotten (2004). He was previously married to Donna Roth.

29. Paul Feig

Producer | Freaks and Geeks

Paul Feig was born on September 17, 1962 in Mount Clemens, Michigan, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for Freaks and Geeks (1999), The Heat (2013) and Spy (2015). He has been married to Laurie Karon since September 23, 1994.

30. James Wan

Writer | Saw

James Wan (born 26 February 1977) is an Australian film producer, screenwriter and film director of Malaysian Chinese descent. He is widely known for directing the horror film Saw (2004) and creating Billy the puppet. Wan has also directed Dead Silence (2007), Death Sentence (2007), Insidious (2010)...

31. David O. Russell

Writer | American Hustle

David Owen Russell is an American film writer, director, and producer, known for a cinema of intense, tragi-comedic characters whose love of life can surpass dark circumstances faced in very specific worlds. His films address such themes as mental illness as stigma or hope; invention of self and ...

32. Justin Lin

Producer | Furious 6

Justin Lin is a Taiwanese American film director whose films have grossed $2 billion worldwide. He is best known for his work on Better Luck Tomorrow, The Fast and the Furious 3-6 and Star Trek Beyond. He is also known for his work on television shows like Community and the second season of True ...

33. Lorenzo di Bonaventura

Producer | Four Brothers

Lorenzo di Bonaventura was born in 1957. He is a producer, known for Four Brothers (2005), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) and Transformers (2007).

34. Paula Wagner

Producer | Mission: Impossible

Paula Wagner has worked in the top ranks of the entertainment industry as a talent agent, film producer, and studio executive. She develops and produces film, theatre, and television projects through her production company Chestnut Ridge Productions (CRP).

Wagner began her career as an agent at ...

35. Amy Pascal

Producer | The Post

Amy Pascal was born on March 25, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, USA. She is a producer, known for The Post (2017), Molly's Game (2017) and Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). She has been married to Bernard Weinraub since August 9, 1997. They have one child.

36. Kathleen Kennedy

Producer | The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Kathleen Kennedy worked in San Diego local television before moving to Los Angeles, where she was hired by Steven Spielberg as a secretary on the production of 1941 (1979). Both later reported that she was lacking as a typist but had good production ideas. She was an associate to Mr. Spielberg on ...

37. J.J. Abrams

Producer | Lost

Jeffrey Jacob Abrams was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, the son of TV producer parents. Abrams planned on going to dental school, but decided to study film at Sarah Lawrence College. At 15, he wrote the music for Don Dohler's Nightbeast (1982). In his senior year, he and Jill ...

38. Alex Kurtzman

Producer | Sleepy Hollow

Alex Kurtzman was born on September 7, 1973 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Alexander Hilary Kurtzman. He is a producer and writer, known for Sleepy Hollow (2013), The Mummy (2017) and Star Trek (2009). He is married to Samantha Counter.

39. Roberto Orci

Producer | Star Trek

Roberto Orci was born on July 20, 1973 in Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico. He is a producer and writer, known for Star Trek (2009), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and Fringe (2008).

40. Kevin Feige

Producer | Guardians of the Galaxy

Kevin Feige was born on June 2, 1973 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He is a producer, known for Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Ant-Man (2015) and Iron Man (2008). He is married to Caitlin Feige.

41. Jerry Bruckheimer

Producer | Armageddon

Jerry Bruckheimer was born on September 21, 1943 in Detroit, Michigan, USA as Jerome Leon Bruckheimer. He is a producer, known for Armageddon (1998), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006). He is married to Linda Bruckheimer. He was ...

42. D.J. Caruso

Director | I Am Number Four

Born in Norwalk, Connecticut, Caruso came west to play tennis and study Television Production at Pepperdine University. Interned at Disney Studios in the Product Placement department and later hooked up with Director John Badham, who mentored him into a second-unit director, after Badham lost his ...

43. Colin Wilson

Producer | Amistad

Colin Wilson is known for his work on Amistad (1997), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Munich (2005).

44. Donald De Line

Producer | The Italian Job

Donald De Line is a producer and executive, known for The Italian Job (2003), Ready Player One (2018) and Fool's Gold (2008).

45. Adam Sandler

Actor | The Waterboy

Adam Richard Sandler was born September 9, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York, to Judith (Levine), a teacher at a nursery school, and Stanley Alan Sandler, an electrical engineer. He is of Russian Jewish descent. At 17, he took his first step towards becoming a stand-up comedian when he spontaneously took ...

As a producer.

46. Charles Roven

Producer | The Dark Knight

Charles Roven was born on August 2, 1949. He is a producer, known for The Dark Knight (2008), American Hustle (2013) and Wonder Woman (2017). He is married to Stephanie Haymes-Roven. He was previously married to Dawn Steel.

47. Jon Landau

Producer | Titanic

Jon Landau was born on July 23, 1960 in New York City, New York, USA. He is a producer, known for Titanic (1997), Avatar (2009) and Dick Tracy (1990).

48. K.C. Hodenfield

Assistant_director | Saving Mr. Banks

K.C. Hodenfield was born in 1956. He is an assistant director and producer, known for Saving Mr. Banks (2013), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005).

49. Tim Bevan

Producer | Les Misérables

Tim Bevan was born on December 20, 1957 in Queenstown, New Zealand as Timothy John Bevan. He is a producer, known for Les Misérables (2012), Atonement (2007) and United 93 (2006). He has been married to Amy Gadney since 2001. They have two children. He was previously married to Joely ...

50. Eric Fellner

Producer | Les Misérables

Eric Fellner was born on October 10, 1959 in England. He is a producer, known for Les Misérables (2012), Atonement (2007) and United 93 (2006).

51. Emma Thomas

Producer | Inception

Emma Thomas is a British film producer, known for co-producing films such as The Prestige (2006), Inception (2010), the Dark Knight trilogy (2005-2012), Interstellar (2014) and Dunkirk (2017). She frequently collaborates with her husband, filmmaker Christopher Nolan.

She has produced all of Nolan's ...

52. Erwin Stoff

Producer | The Matrix

Erwin Stoff was born on April 26, 1951 in Romania. He is a producer, known for The Matrix (1999), Chain Reaction (1996) and I Am Legend (2007). He was previously married to Deborah Stoff.

53. M. Night Shyamalan

Producer | Lady in the Water

Born in Puducherry, India, and raised in the posh suburban Penn Valley area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, M. Night Shyamalan is a film director, screenwriter, producer, and occasional actor, known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots.

He is the son of Jayalakshmi, a Tamil ...

54. Sam Mercer

Producer | Signs

Sam Mercer is known for his work on Signs (2002), Congo (1995) and Unbreakable (2000).

55. Judd Apatow

Producer | Girls

Judd Apatow was born on December 6, 1967 in Syosset, New York, USA. He is a producer and writer, known for Girls (2012), Knocked Up (2007) and The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005). He has been married to Leslie Mann since June 9, 1997. They have two children.

56. Seth MacFarlane

Writer | Family Guy

Seth Woodbury MacFarlane was born in the small New England town of Kent, Connecticut, where he lived with his mother, Ann Perry (Sager), an admissions office worker, his father, Ronald Milton MacFarlane, a prep school teacher, and his sister, Rachael MacFarlane, now a voice actress and singer. He ...

57. Michael G. Wilson

Writer | Licence to Kill

Michael G. Wilson was born on January 21, 1942 in New York City, New York, USA as Michael Gregg Wilson. He is a writer, known for Licence to Kill (1989), Skyfall (2012) and For Your Eyes Only (1981). He is married to Jane Wilson. They have two children.

58. Barbara Broccoli

Producer | Skyfall

She is one of the entertainment industry's most successful female producers. Barbara Broccoli was born to legendary filmmaker Albert R. Broccoli, affectionately known as Cubby, and Dana Broccoli on June 18, 1960. Not long after, Cubby Broccoli and his new partner, Harry Saltzman, secured studio ...

59. Gale Anne Hurd

Producer | The Terminator

Gale Anne Hurd was born on October 25, 1955 in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from Stanford University, she joined New World Pictures as executive assistant to Roger Corman, the company president. She worked her way up through various administrative positions and eventually became ...

60. Neal H. Moritz

Producer | The Fast and the Furious

Neal H. Moritz was born on June 6, 1959 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is a producer, known for The Fast and the Furious (2001), Out of Time (2003) and S.W.A.T. (2003).

61. Joel Silver

Producer | Hudson Hawk

As flamboyant as any character in his movies, Joel Silver can be credited along with Jerry Bruckheimer as practically reinventing the action film genre in the 1980s. Born in New Jersey, he attended the New York University Film School. After college, he worked at Lawrence Gordon Pictures, earning ...

62. Graham King

Producer | The Departed

Oscar-winning producer Graham King, has worked behind the scenes with the industry's foremost creative talents on both major motion pictures and independent features. Over the last 30 years, King has produced or executive produced more than 45 films, grossing $1.2 billion at the domestic box office...

63. Ben Affleck

Producer | Argo

American actor and filmmaker Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born on August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher, and his father, Timothy Byers Affleck, is a social worker; the two are divorced. Ben has...

Director, producer.

64. Jason Blum

Producer | Get Out

Emmy award winning producer, Jason Blum is the founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions, a multi-media production company that has pioneered a new model of studio filmmaking- producing high-quality micro-budget films. Blumhouse has a first-look deal with Universal Pictures and has produced the ...

65. Susan Downey

Producer | Sherlock Holmes

Susan Downey was born on November 6, 1973 as Susan Nicole Levin. She is known for her work on Sherlock Holmes (2009), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and Unknown (2011). She has been married to Robert Downey Jr. since August 27, 2005. They have two children.

66. Todd Phillips

Producer | Due Date

Todd Phillips was born on December 20, 1970 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Todd Bunzl. He is a producer and director, known for Due Date (2010), Old School (2003) and The Hangover (2009).

67. Clayton Townsend

Producer | Born on the Fourth of July

Clayton Townsend is a producer and production manager, known for Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Bridesmaids (2011) and Natural Born Killers (1994).

68. Stephen Sommers

Producer | G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Stephen Sommers was born on March 20, 1962 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Raised in St. Cloud, Minnesota, he attended St. John's University and the University of Seville in Spain. Afterward, Sommers spent the next four years performing as an actor in theater groups and managing rock bands throughout ...

69. Brian Grazer

Producer | A Beautiful Mind

Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer has been making movies and television programs for more than 25 years. As both a writer and producer, he has been personally nominated for four Academy Awards, and in 2002 won the Best Picture Oscar for A Beautiful Mind (2001). In addition to winning ...

70. Peter Chernin

Producer | Hidden Figures

Peter Chernin was born on May 29, 1951 in Harrison, New York, USA. He is known for his work on Hidden Figures (2016), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Oblivion (2013).

71. Sam Raimi

Director | Spider-Man

Highly inventive U.S. film director/producer/writer/actor Sam Raimi first came to the attention of film fans with the savage, yet darkly humorous, low-budget horror film, The Evil Dead (1981). From his childhood, Raimi was a fan of the cinema and, before he was ten-years-old, he was out making ...

72. Steven Soderbergh

Director | Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Steven Andrew Soderbergh was born on January 14, 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, the second of six children of Mary Ann (Bernard) and Peter Soderbergh. His father was of Swedish and Irish descent, and his mother was of Italian ancestry. While he was still at a very young age, his family moved to ...



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