Ryan Fleck, born in California in 1976, pursued his filmmaking dream across the country, as he attended the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. For his thesis at Tisch, he worked on a short film called "Struggle" (2002) that was his debut as a writer and director. Around that same time, he met Anna Boden, a Columbia film student with a similar interest in filmmaking. The pair hit it off, started dating, and more importantly, started making shorts and movies together. Their first collaborative project was "Have You Seen This Man?" (2003), a documentary short that they co-directed. Around that same time, the film school graduates were crafting their first feature-length script. To raise money and financing for the full-length film, they made "Gowanus, Brooklyn" (2004), a short film that made its way to the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Unfortunately, the duo weren't successful in their goal right away. It took them nearly two more years to raise the money to make "Half Nelson" (2006), their Ryan Gosling-starring feature debut. "Half Nelson" was a critical darling, as Boden and Fleck made a splash at award shows with the film. Gosling even received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his work in it. Their next work was "Sugar" (2008), a film about a young Dominican who immigrates to America to play baseball. While not as big of a hit as their previous work, "Sugar" was successful, once again drawing critical and award buzz. Boden and Fleck worked with a studio for the first time next, adapting "It's Kind of a Funny Story" (2010) from its young adult book origins into a coming-of-age comedy starring Zach Galifanakis. Following up on the relative success of "It's Kind of a Funny Story," the pair took five years to produce their next film. That film, "Mississippi Grind" (2015), took them back to the path they carved out with "Half Nelson" and "Sugar," though with a much bigger profile. "Mississippi Grind" starred Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn as two gamblers with a penchant for addiction and superstition.