los angeles | Music + Film

Movie Buffs: Hollywood’s Hottest Young Directors

September 8, 2014
Written by: Yasha Wallin
Gia Coppola via Tribeca Film Festival

With great cinema readily available to the masses through digital outlets, film festivals popping up in countless cities around the world, and the success of crowd funding sites like Kickstarter to boost exposure, there’s more access to great movies than ever before. And while all this means filmmakers don’t necessarily have to be based in Hollywood to be successful, the City of Angles is still the epicenter of where brilliant movies happen. To figure out who’s behind some of the year’s best flicks—whether they be short, experimental, or otherwise—we’ve narrowed down a few of our favorite hot, young directors. So grab some popcorn, and browse our list below.

Lauren Greenfield
Working from her Venice Beach studio, artist, photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield is an Emmy nominated and award winning director at Sundance. Greenfield’s focus on consumerism and youth issues create engaging content around important aspects of society. Watch her gripping “Kids & Money,” and you’ll see why she’s one to keep an eye on.

Kahlil Joseph
With a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Short Films (2012) under his sleeve and the adoration from collaborators like Kendrick Lamar, at 36, this emerging director has us hanging on every release. Kahill’s restrained, poetic and almost voyeuristic perspective is brimming with meaning. His patient short films like “Wild Cat” (scored by Flying Lotus) offer a window to other worlds.

Dee Rees
Hailing from Texas, the 36 year-old Los Angeles based director met Spike Lee at NYU and soon became one of his proteges, receiving mentoring as she developed her first short films. Rees recently debuted her first feature “Pariah,” to critical acclaim in the indie-film world and beyond. Her insightful portrayals of outsider culture keep us glued to our seats, and her next debut, about blues singer Bessie Smith, promises to be equally compelling.

Gia Coppola
With the Coppola name, it’s hard not to be interested in this young woman, who started out as an actress. Her directorial debut, “Palo Alto” was officially selected by Toronto International Film Festival, Venice and Telluride Film Festivals for it’s compelling narrative of coming of age story and female sexuality. At 27, Coppola has already grabbed our attention and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

Jeff Nichols
Californian native Jeff Nichols, 35, is one of the young guns to watch in Hollywood right now after his groundbreaking thriller “Mud.” A narrative-driven director with three features under his belt so far, we’re excited about his upcoming sci-fi “Midnight Special” starring Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edgerton, due for release in 2015.

Clenét Verdi-Rose
Director Clenét Verdi-Rose hit the ground running with his debut “Skyler,” about a college senior wrestling with personal demons. This touching production picked up numerous awards including best director and first-place feature film from the Los Angeles Art-House Film Festival. It also paved the way for the 32-year-old’s third feature, “Sand Castles,” about a boy grappling with the mysterious return of their kidnapped sister. The drama is currently making the rounds at indie film festivals to critical acclaim, and it’s clear Verdi-Rose is just getting warmed up for his cinematic successes.