This talented, passionate and sensitive writer-director of films of the fantastic segued from obscurity to controversy literally overnight with the release of "Powder" (1995), his first major feature. Co-produced by Hollywood Pictures, a subdivision of Disney, and Caravan Pictures, this surprisingly sober and intelligent fable told the unusual story of a boy genius with snow-white skin and a strange relationship to electricity whose physical oddity becomes a lightning rod for intolerance in a small Texas town. Though the film boasted an extraordinary central performance from Sean Patrick Flanery (TV's "Young Indiana Jones") and outstanding support from Lance Henriksen, Jeff Goldblum and Mary Steenburgen, filmmaker Salva found himself unpleasantly in the spotlight when his 1987 conviction for a sex crime with a minor surfaced practically on the eve of his potential career breakthrough. (See "Notes" and "Milestones" for details on Salva's crime and punishment. Suffice it to say here that while many filmmakers have become intimately involved with their stars, rarely have the results been so tragic for all parties involved.) The second highest grossing film of its opening weekend, "Powder" was dismissed by many reviewers who seemed more put off by its seriousness than its maker's notoriety.
A filmmaker since the age of 12, Salva made numerous shorts on video. He gained industry attention and several awards with his film "Something in the Basement." Salva began an association with Francis Ford Coppola which lead to the auteur's son Roman serving as executive in charge of production on his first feature "Clownhouse" (1988). This creepy story economically demonstrated how a young boy learns that his long held fear of clowns is actually well warranted. Reminiscent of the early work of writer-director John Carpenter, the film derives much of its tension from a savvy use of deep focus to emphasize background action. Despite amateurish performances, corny heavy-handed music, and erratic sound recording, "Clownhouse" revealed a genuine talent working with generic material in a personal and resonant manner. After an enforced career hiatus, Salva returned to filmmaking with "Nature of the Beast" (1995), a direct-to-video genre outing starring Lance Henriksen and went on to helm the similarly direct-to-video drama "Rites of Passage" (1999) about a troubled family. Francis Ford Coppola served as executive producer of "Jeepers Creepers" (2001), Salva's first theatrical release in over five years. A surprisingly clever, stylish and scary entry in the teen horror genre, the film spawned a 2003 sequel which Salva also wrote and directed.
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Pleaded guilty to having and filming unlawful oral sex with a minor--Nathan Forrest Winters, the 12-year-old star of "Clownhouse" and another previous Salva film; sentenced to three years (served 15 months) at the California Training Facility in Soledad
Feature debut as writer-director, "Clownhouse"; Coppola's son Roman served as executive in charge of production; first film from fledgling Commercial Pictures
"Clownhouse" shown at US Film Festival in Park City, UT; reportedly first horror film to be shown at festival
"Clownhouse" received US release direct-to-video
Completed second feature as writer-director, "Nature of the Beast" starring Lance Henriksen; released direct-to-video
Completed first theatrically released feature, "Powder", a fantasy co-produced by the Walt Disney Company subdivision, Hollywood Pictures, and Caravan Pictures
Nathan Winters appeared at an industry screening of "Powder" in Los Angeles and urged the audience not to support the film
Returned to features as writer-director of "Rites of Passage", featuring Jason Behr
Wrote and directed "Jeepers Creepers", executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola
Directed the big screen adaptation of Dan Millman's bestselling autobiography, "Peaceful Warrior", which tells the true story of a college student training to be an Olympic gymnast whose life is changed when he meets a mysterious mentor