Bolstered by the support of veteran director James L. Brooks and producer Polly Platt, Wes Anderson attained a status in the late 1990s that most young filmmakers only dream of achieving -- he proved that he could work within the Hollywood studio system and still create distinctive, willfully quirky films infused with an independent sensibility. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Anderson was interested in filmmaking and performance from a young age, shooting crude Super-8 movies and staging elaborate school plays (including a hand-puppet adaptation of the 1980 Kenny Rogers vehicle The Gambler).
As a philosophy student at the University of Texas at Austin, Anderson found a kindred spirit in classmate Owen Wilson, who shared the director's passion for playwriting and watching classic films of the '70s. The two became roommates and lingered at UT -- even after they had completed their degree requirements -- as Anderson honed his skills at a local public access television station and Wilson performed in local stage productions. The duo then set out to shoot a full-length script they wrote, titled Bottle Rocket, recruiting two of Wilson's brothers, Luke Wilson and Andrew Wilson, to perform. Despite Andrew's production connections in Austin, however, the team eventually ran out of film stock and funds, and they had to edit their footage into a 13-minute short. The black-and-white production eventually found its way to fellow Texan filmmaker L.M. Kit Carson, a family friend of the Wilsons who was so impressed with the work that he sent a copy to his colleague Platt and convinced Anderson to enter the film in the Sundance Film Festival. Before long, the film had also garnered the attention of Platt's partner, Brooks, and he orchestrated a deal for Anderson to shoot the full-length feature with Columbia Pictures.