Date of Birth : Sep 28th 1950
American independent film director and screenwriter who frequently plays small roles in his own and other indie films. In 1983, after the films Baby It’s You (starring Rosanna Arquette) and Lianna (a sympathetic story in which a married woman becomes discontented with her marriage and falls in love with another woman), Sayles received a MacArthur Fellowship for $40,000 a year for a five-year term. Sayles used the money to fund the fantasy The Brother from Another Planet, a film about a black, three-toed slave who escapes from another planet and finds himself at home among the people of Harlem in New York City, largely because he is incapable of speaking.
In 1989 he created and wrote the pilot episode for the short-lived television show Shannon’s Deal about a down-and-out Philadelphia lawyer played by Jamey Sheridan. Sayles received a 1990 Edgar Award for his teleplay for the pilot. The show ran for only 16 episodes before being cancelled in 1991. Sayles has funded most of his films by writing genre scripts such as Piranha, Alligator, The Howling and The Challenge. Having collaborated with Joe Dante on Piranha and The Howling, Sayles acted in Dante’s movie Matinee. In deciding whether to take a job, Sayles reports that he mostly is interested in whether there is the germ of an idea for a movie which he would want to watch. Sayles gets the rest of his funding by working as a script doctor; he has done rewrites for Apollo 13, The Fugitive, and Mimic, among others, and finds the job rewarding since he gets to help other writers tell their stories and also meet other directors and watch how they work.
One such genre script, for an unproduced film called Night Skies, inspired the project that would eventually become the highly successful and moneymaking film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. That film’s director, Steven Spielberg, later commissioned Sayles to write the script for Jurassic Park IV.