American director Michael Mann studied at both the University of Wisconsin and the London International Film School before commencing his career in 1965. Getting his start working on TV commercials, Mann took his rapid-paced, flash-cut approach into documentary filmmaking, producing an award-winning short on the 1968 French student riots, Janpuri.
Mann's fragmented-image technique further manifested itself on such TV detective series of the '70s such as Starsky and Hutch and Vegas, both of which utilized his scripts (though they were directed by others in the standard conventional style of the period). Mann turned out another prizewinning project, the 1979 TV movie The Jericho Mile, before making his big-screen directorial debut with Thief (1981). The story of a professional jewel thief (James Caan) trying to make good, it introduced audiences to Mann's stylish, atmospheric approach to filmmaking and earned a number of strong reviews.