Stein made his first 16mm short film, Aviel, a surreal trip through the mind of a schizophrenic 13-year-old, when he was 16, still a junior at Harvard High School. Weekend trips to the movie palaces of Westwood and Hollywood, along with the creation of his own films made the academic, sports-oriented prep school experience bearable. After a sweltering summer spent as a tour guide at Universal Studios, Stein entered the film program at NYU where he moved into a more experimental realm, inspired by the chaos of the city. Stein created the stylish suspense thriller, Shudder Speed, a visual tribute to La Femme Nikita and the hyper-real works of Brian DePalma. Stein was discovered by the Triad Agency at a screening of Shudder Speed at the age of 19.
With a year left to complete his degree, Stein focused his efforts on screenwriting. In 1994, Stein co-wrote the quirky, character-driven Sparkler with a tour guide he had met at Universal Studios. Optioned by several producers, it took two years for Stein to meet the fledgling producers who helped raise financing from venture capitalists out of D.C. With the help of esteemed casting director Joseph Middleton, Stein assembled Park Overall, Freddie Prinze Jr., Jamie Kennedy and Veronica Cartwright in the story of a trailer park princess who changes the lives of three jaded city boys on the road to adulthood. Sparkler premiered at The Hamptons Film Festival and showcased in America Cinematheque's Alternative Screen series. It was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Troia Film Festival in Portugal, and recently won the Audience Award at the Kudzu Film Festival in Athens, Georgia. Strand Releasing will distribute the film in February of 1999.
Stein is currently at work on his new screenplay, Astrid, a cross-country epic about three obsessed groupies and the mythic pop icon that drives them to madness.
Darren Stein Facts
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