By nature, casual moviegoers aren’t so concerned with a movie’s non-actor credits—give them a few recognizable stars and there could be a chimpanzee directing every scene for all they care; one pantomimed the entire time by mo-cap ace Andy Serkis, no doubt. If Joe Popcorn Eater does happen to seek out a film based solely on the director’s name, they’re probably excited about one of the following: Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Steven Spielberg, or Joel and Ethan Coen. As for the dozens of steadily working filmmakers in Hollywood, they’re relatively anonymous.

So imagine how moviemakers existing beyond Hollywood’s fringes must feel. But here’s the thing: The unknown men and women operating with minuscule budgets and tiny studio backing are typically more exciting than the folks consistently getting hired by conglomerates the likes of Warner Bro., Universal, and Paramount.

One such example is Lynne Ramsay, the critically acclaimed Scottish auteur behind this weekend’s best theatrical release, We Need To Talk About Kevin (expanding after a limited, Oscar-qualifying run in early December). An unnerving look at youthful malevolence through the eyes of a shell-shocked mother (Tilda Swinton), it’s the kind of dark psychological drama that paycheck-driven hacks would present as yet another ripoff of The Omen—as “found-footage,” no doubt. Not Ramsay, though, who’s too compelling a talent to go out like that. And she’s not alone, as you’re about to discover, through our list of 10 Independent Filmmakers You Should Know About.

Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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