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About Jared Lawrence Hess
As a first time writer and director, Jared Hess earned considerable success right out of the gate with his debut film, "Napoleon Dynamite" (2004), which he made on a shoestring budget, only to see the quirky comedy become a hit at the Sundance Film Festival and in theaters after its wide release. Having created a near-cultural phenomenon, which included celebrities wearing iconic "Vote for Pedro" tee-shirts, Hess became a darling of the Gen-X crowd and Hollywood at large, despite some crustier critics declaring his film cruel and sophomoric. But Hess had the last laugh when "Napoleon Dynamite" earned a king's ransom at the box office - at least in relation to its budget - and opened the doors for making movies within the studio system. He followed up his successful debut with another hit, "Nacho Libre" (2006), a medium-budgeted comedy that capitalized on the rising popularity of its star, Jack Black. Though he hit a speed bump with his third feature, the little-seen and critically maligned comedy "Gentlemen Broncos" (2009), Hess returned to the character that launched his career with an animated version of "Napoleon Dynamite" (Fox, 2011- ), reminding critics and audiences why he became a noteworthy filmmaker to begin with.
Born on July 18, 1979 in Preston, ID, an idyllic rural town that would later serve as the prime location for his breakout movie, Hess determined early in life to become a filmmaker. After graduating from Preston High School, he began working as a camera assistant for T.C. Christiansen, a director of photography for IMAX films, before moving on to attend Brigham Young University. It was there that he studied film and met his future wife and collaborator, Jerusha Demke. Hess forged another significant relationship at BYU with actor Jon Heder, who later became famous as the titular "Napoleon Dynamite." Before making the feature, Hess wrote and directed a nine-minute, 16mm black-and-white precursor, "Peluca" (2003), which told the tale of Seth, a loveable geek enamored with ninja books, unicorns and fanny packs - all the familiar obsessions Hess and his brothers shared growing up. The film was one of 12 to compete in the shorts program at the 2003 Slamdance Film Festival, where it was well-received. The successful short secured Hess funding to film a feature-length version.
Source: "Jared Hess- Biography"