Joe Carnahan

With only $8,000 to finance his first feature, "Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane" (1999), writer-director Joe Carnahan made a huge impact with both critics and film festival audience, establishing himself as a new force for Hollywood to reckon with. But even though Carnahan captured the town's attention, he struggled to fund his second project, "Narc" (2002), a dark and gritty crime thriller that cemented his place as a talented director worthy of consideration. Thanks to the critical praise and awards buzz that followed the release of that film, Carnahan suddenly had his pick of major studio projects. In fact, he was slated to direct Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible III" (2006), but left the project following conflict with the star over the film's tone. He instead went back to his indie roots for the critically-panned hipster noir, "Smokin' Aces" (2006), which drew complaints - fair or unfair - that he was being derivative of Quentin Tarantino. Finally, over a decade after his feature debut, Carnahan directed his first major Hollywood movie, "The A-Team" (2010), which he followed with the well-received survival thriller "The Grey" (2012), allowing him to finally find his footing after a long, hard struggle.