Roger William Corman (born April 5 1926), sometimes nicknamed "King of the Bs" for his output of B-movies (though he himself rejects this as inaccurate), is a prolific American producer and director of low-budget movies, many of which are exploitation, and are among some of the most influential movies made. He has apprenticed many now-famous directors, stressing the importance of budgeting and resourcefulness; Corman once joked he could make a film about the fall of the Roman Empire with two extras and a sagebush.
Corman is probably best known for his filmings of various Edgar Allan Poe stories at American International Pictures, mostly in collaboration with writer/scenarist Richard Matheson, including House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Premature Burial (1962), Tales of Terror (1962) The Raven (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964). All but Premature Burial starred Vincent Price. After the film version of The Raven was completed, he reportedly realized he still had some shooting days left before the sets were torn down and so made another film, The Terror (1963) on the spot with the remaining cast, crew and sets.
He also directed one of William Shatner's early films, The Intruder (1962). Based on a novel by Charles Beaumont, the film, made for approximately USD $80,000, has become famous for its treatment of segregation and civil rights.
In 1970, Corman founded New World Pictures which became a small independently owned production/distribution studio, releasing many cult films such Death Race 2000(1975) and the Joe Dante film Piranha (1978). Corman eventually sold New World to an investment group in 1983, and later formed Concorde Pictures and later New Horizons.
Corman's penultimate film as director was 1971's Von Richthofen & Brown (he had always wanted to make an aviation movie, he being a pilot himself); he then returned to directing once more with 1990's Frankenstein Unbound. In all, Roger Corman has produced over 300 movies and directed over 50.
A number of noted film directors have worked with Corman, including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme, Donald G. Jackson, Gale Anne Hurd, Carl Colpaert, Joe Dante, James Cameron, John Sayles, Monte Hellman, Paul Bartel, George Armitage, Jonathan Kaplan, George Hickenlooper, and Jack Hill. Many have said that Corman's influence taught them some of the ins-and-outs of filmmaking. In the extras for the DVD of The Terminator, director James Cameron refers to his work for Corman as, "I trained at the Roger Corman Film School." The British director Nicolas Roeg served as the cinematographer on The Masque of the Red Death. Actors who obtained their career breaks working for Corman include Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Michael McDonald, Dennis Hopper, Talia Shire, and Robert De Niro.
His autobiography, titled How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime (ISBN 0-306-80874-9), documents his experiences in the film industry. In 2000, Corman was featured alongside cult filmmakers Harry Novak, Doris Wishman, David F. Friedman and former collaborators Sam Arkoff, Dick Miller and Peter Bogdanovich in the documentary SCHLOCK! The Secret History of American Movies, a film about the rise and fall of American exploitation cinema.