Roger William Corman was born in 1926 in Detroit, Michigan. Corman studied engineering at Stanford University but he soon developed a growing passion for film. He sold his first script in 1953, The House in the Sea, which was eventually filmed and released as Highway Dragnet (1954). Horrified by the disconnect between his vision for the project and the resulting film, Corman set himself up as a producer.
With no formal training, Corman first took to the director’s chair with Five Guns West (1955) and over the next 15 years directed 53 films. He proved himself a master of quick, inexpensive productions. His personal speed record was set with The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), which he shot in two days and a night. In the early 1960s he began to take on more ambitious projects, gaining a great deal of critical praise and commercial success from a series of adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories, most of them starring Vincent Price.
In the late 1960s he retired from directing to concentrate on production and distribution through his own newly formed company, New World Pictures, which became the American distributor for the films of Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, François Truffaut and others. In 1990, after the publication of his biography “How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime”–one of the all-time great books on filmmaking–he returned to directing but only for a single film, Frankenstein Unbound (1990).
With hundreds of movies to his credit, Roger Corman is one of the most prolific and successful producers in the history of filmmaking. Corman has been dubbed, among other things, “The King of the Cult Film” and “The Pope of Pop Cinema” and his filmography is packed with hundreds of remarkably entertaining films in addition to dozens of genuine cult classics. Corman has displayed an unrivalled eye for talent over the years. Among those he mentored are Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, James Cameron, Robert De Niro, Peter Bogdanovich, Joe Dante and Sandra Bullock. His influence on modern American cinema is almost incalculable. In 2009 he was honoured with an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.