Director/screenwriter/actor/producer Quentin Tarantino was perhaps the most distinctive and volatile talent to emerge in American film in the early '90s. Unlike the previous generation of American filmmakers, Tarantino learned his craft from his days as a video clerk rather than as a film-school student. Consequently, he developed an audacious fusion of pop culture and independent arthouse cinema; his films were thrillers that were distinguished as much by their clever, twisting dialogue as their outbursts of extreme violence. Tarantino initially began his career as an actor (his biggest role was as an Elvis impersonator on an episode of The Golden Girls), taking classes while he was working at Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, CA.
During his time at Video Archives, the fledgling filmmaker began writing screenplays, completing his first, True Romance, in 1987. With his co-worker, Roger Avary (who would later also become a director), Tarantino tried to get financial backing to film the script. After years of negotiations, he decided to sell the script, which wound up in the hands of director Tony Scott. During this time, Tarantino wrote the screenplay for Natural Born Killers. Again, he was unable to come up with enough investors to make a movie and gave the script to his partner, Rand Vossler. Tarantino then used the money he made from True Romance to begin pre-production on Reservoir Dogs, a film about a failed heist. Reservoir Dogs received financial backing from LIVE Entertainment after Harvey Keitel agreed to star in the movie. Word-of-mouth on Reservoir Dogs began to build at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, which led to scores of glowing reviews, making the film a cult hit. While many critics and fans were praising Tarantino, he developed a sizable number of detractors. Claiming he ripped off the obscure Hong Kong thriller City on Fire, the critics only added to the director/writer's already considerable buzz. During 1993, Tarantino wrote and directed his next feature, Pulp Fiction, which featured three interweaving crime storylines; Tony Scott's big-budget production of True Romance was also released that year.