Anderson was born in 1970. He was one of the first of the “video store” generation of film-makers. His father was the first man on his block to own a V.C.R., and from a very early age Anderson had an infinite number of titles available to him. While film-makers like Spielberg cut their teeth making 8 mm films, Anderson cut his teeth shooting films on video and editing them from V.C.R. to V.C.R. Part of Anderson’s artistic D.N.A. comes from his father, who hosted a late night horror show in Cleveland. His father knew a number of oddball celebrities such as Robert Ridgely, an actor who often appeared in Mel Brooks’ films and would later play “The Colonel” in Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997). Anderson was also very much shaped by growing up in “The Valley”, specifically the suburban San Fernando Valley of greater Los Angeles. The Valley may have been immortalized in the 1980s for its mall-hopping “Valley Girls”, but for Anderson it was a slightly seedy part of suburban America. You were close to Hollywood, yet you weren’t there. Would-bes and burn-outs populated the area. Anderson’s experiences growing up in “The Valley” have no doubt shaped his artistic self, especially since three of his four theatrical features are set in the Valley. Anderson got into film-making at a young age. His most significant amateur film was The Dirk Diggler Story (1988), a sort of mock-documentary a la This Is Spinal Tap (1984), about a once-great pornography star named Dirk Diggler. After enrolling in N.Y.U.’s film program for two days, Anderson got his tuition back and made his own short film, Cigarettes & Coffee (1993). He also worked as a production assistant on numerous commercials and music videos before he got the chance to make his first feature, something he liked to call Hard Eight (1996), but would later become known to the public as “Hard Eight”. The film was developed and financed through The Sundance Lab, not unlike Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992). Anderson cast three actors whom he would continue working with in the future: Altman veteran Philip Baker Hall, the husky and lovable John C. Reilly and, in a small part, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who so far has been featured in all four of Anderson’s films. The film deals with a guardian angel type (played by Hall) who takes down-on-his-luck Reilly under his wing. The deliberately paced film featured a number of Anderson trademarks: wonderful use of source light, long takes and top-notch acting. Yet the film was reedited (and retitled) by Rysher Entertainment against Anderson’s wishes. It was admired by critics, but didn’t catch on at the box office. Still, it was enough for Anderson to eventually get his next movie financed. “Boogie Nights” was, in a sense, a remake of “The Dirk Diggler Story”, but Anderson threw away the satirical approach and instead painted a broad canvas about a makeshift family of pornographers. The film was often joyous in its look at the 1970s and the days when pornography was still shot on film, still shown in theatres, and its actors could at least delude themselves into believing that they were movie stars. Yet “Boogie Nights” did not flinch at the dark side, showing a murder and suicide, literally in one (almost) uninterrupted shot, and also showing the lives of these people deteriorate, while also showing how their lives recovered. Anderson not only worked with Hall, Reilly and Hoffman again, he also worked with Julianne Moore, Melora Walters, William H. Macy and Luis Guzmán. Collectively, Anderson had something that was rare in U.S. cinema: a stock company of top-notch actors. Aside from the above mentioned, Anderson also drew terrific performances from Burt Reynolds and Mark Wahlberg, two actors whose careers were not exactly going full-blast at the time of “Boogie Nights”, but who found themselves to be that much more employable afterwards. The success of “Boogie Nights” gave Anderson the chance to really go for broke in Magnolia (1999), a massive mosaic that could dwarf Altman’s Nashville (1975) in its number of characters. Anderson was awarded a “Best Director” award at Cannes for Punch-Drunk Love (2002).