Known for both his multifaceted career and his habit of channeling drama into comedy, Barry Sonnenfeld has been working steadily since the mid-'80s as a director, cinematographer, producer, and, from time to time, as an actor. At his best he has given audiences such sharp, witty, and deftly directed films as Get Shorty (1995) and The Addams Family (1991); at his worst, he has been responsible for unequivocal stinkbombs like For Love or Money (1993) and Wild Wild West (1999).
A native of New York, where he was born April 1, 1953, Sonnenfeld spent many of his high school days going to the movies instead of class. His principle interest was in photography, which he learned the basics of as a darkroom lab technician at New York University. While at N.Y.U., he made the acquaintance of two fellow students, Joel and Ethan Coen. Sonnenfeld, who had been earning extra cash as a cameraman on low-budget films, including pornographic ones, began collaborating with the Coen brothers on their first film, Blood Simple (1984), as a cinematographer. He continued to work with them in this capacity on two of their subsequent films, Raising Arizona (1987) and Miller's Crossing (1990).