Movie Directors Who Worked With Video Games

Highlights

  • Hollywood directors like James Wan, Guillermo Del Toro, and Steven Spielberg have brought their creative talents to video games, showcasing their expertise in different mediums.
  • From directing trailers to creating short films, these directors have added their unique styles and storytelling techniques to popular games.
  • The collaboration between Hollywood directors and game developers highlights the potential for storytelling in video games and demonstrates the crossover of talent between the film and gaming industries.

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Hollywood’s directors are some of the most inventive creatives in the entertainment industry. The amount of planning that goes into producing a movie is immense, and the technical abilities required to understand how to a shoot a movie in the first place are hard to master. Truly, Hollywood’s top directors have some incredible talent.

Related: Video Games That Showed Up In Movies

However, many directors don’t just stick to film. There are plenty who go like to explore directing across different entertainment mediums, including video games. A lot of the same principles of filmmaking translate quite well in the gaming space, and it’s becoming more common for Hollywood directors to offer their talents to game developers.

8 James Wan – Dead Space

Dead Space Isaac Aims His Cutter Weapon

James Wan is a modern master of horror, having produced many successful and famous horror films in recent memory, such as The Conjuring and Insidious. Wan got his start in the film industry with Saw, a gory body horror flick which has since spawned many sequels and even a couple of video games.

In 2008, Wan directed a trailer for Dead Space called “Loved Ones.” The trailer premiered at E3 2008 and featured Wan’s unique style of cinematography, building tension over the course of the trailer by showing viewers the grotesque imagery of the USG Ishimura.

In a press release from Electronic Arts, Wan said when he saw the gameplay that he knew he wanted to be involved in the production of Dead Space. Considering that Dead Space features one the scariest and most dangerous forms of zombie in video games, necromorphs, it makes perfect sense that Wan would want to be involved.

7 Guillermo Del Toro – Death Stranding

Sam holds BB as dark clouds loom over them

Guillermo Del Toro is one of the film industry’s leading creative visionaries. Del Toro’s works include a myriad of visually rich films such as Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and The Shape of Water. It might come as no surprise then that Del Toro has also dipped his toes in the visual spectacles of the video game industry.

At the 2016 Game Awards, Guillermo Del Toro made an appearance as a character in a trailer for Death Stranding. This gave some fans hope that Del Toro would have creative involvement in Death Stranding, but Del Toro revealed that he was just doing acting for the game.

6 Steven Spielberg – Medal Of Honor

Holding gun and aiming down dark street in Medal of Honor

Steven Spielberg is a director who needs no introduction. Spielberg’s filmography is legendary, including classics like Jaws, Indiana Jones, and Saving Private Ryan. As a media visionary, Spielberg saw the potential of video games for storytelling, and in 1995, Spielberg founded Dreamworks Interactive, a new video game development studio.

Related: Action Movies You Forgot Were Made Into Video Games

Coming off the rails of Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg set out to create his own World War II video game, Medal of Honor. Medal of Honor’s development was not without controversy, with commentators criticizing the game’s name and content. However, Speilberg and DreamWorks Interactive pressed on and was released in 1999.

5 Michael Bay – Need For Speed: The Run

Need for Speed The Run gameplay driving across straightaway

Michael Bay movies are bombastic thrill rides that never let up. Quick cuts, punches, and explosions take priority while the stories are more of an afterthought. While Michael Bay’s movies may not take home any Oscars any time soon, they can still be incredibly entertaining.

In 2011, Michael Bay directed a trailer for Need For Speed: The Run, featuring all the trademark Michael Bay cuts and explosions he’s known for. Electronic Arts had reached out to Bay to make the trailer, and he’s seen in a behind-the-scenes video working on the trailer with the developers of the game.

4 Eli Roth – Dark Souls 3

35-Dark Souls 3 How To Defeat The High Wall Of Lothric Dragon

Darks Souls has become one the most celebrated series in gaming history. An entire genre known as “soulslike” has been named after the game series and its developer, FromSoftware, has cemented itself as premiere game studio in the industry.

In 2016, filmmaker Eli Roth was tasked with directing an animated short for the release of Dark Souls 3. The Dark Souls series has one of the best video game fantasy settings of all time, and Roth’s puts it good use in his short film. The short was called “The Witches” and featured a knight in the Dark Souls universe who meets a horrible fate after an encounter with witches. As a fan of Dark Souls, Roth was thrilled to have the opportunity to work on a short film to promote the game’s release.

3 Joseph Kosinski – Halo 3

Master Chief looks out into the distance on the cover of Halo 3.

Joseph Kosinski has made a name for himself in Hollywood for directing some of the most iconic action movies in modern memory. The filmmaker recently directed Top Gun: Maverick, which grossed over a billion dollars at the box office. Kosinski also directed Tron: Legacy, a favorite among Tron fans for its sleek visuals, stellar action sequence, and a fantastic score composed by Daft Punk.

Related: Video Games Actors You Didn’t Know Were In Films

Before these blockbusters, Kosinski directed an iconic commercial for one of the most successful video games of all time – Halo 3. Entitled “Starry Knight,” the commercial features two children pondering their place in the universe before cutting to Master Chief putting on his helmet and jumping into battle. In addition to Halo 3, Kosinski has also directed trailers for Gears of War, Doom, and Destiny.

2 James Gunn – Lollipop Chainsaw

Lollipop Chainsaw key art showing Juliet Starling swinging a chainsaw toward the camera while a zombie stumbles behind her

James Gunn is best known these days for directing the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Before he made critically acclaimed comic book movies, Gunn was involved as a writer for a slew of different properties and projects, including Scooby-Doo and Dawn of the Dead.

In 2012, Warner Bros. approached Gunn and told him there was an opportunity for him to work a secret project with Goichi Suda, a successful Japanese video game developer who is also known by his online alias as Suda51. This project ended up being Lollipop Chainsaw, an action game featuring Juliet, a high school cheerleader who mows down hoards of zombies with her trusty chainsaw. Gunn was initially brought on to help with cutscenes, but as time went on, Gunn was given complete creative control over the game’s script and Juliet’s dialogue.

1 J.J. Abrams – Spyjinx

Spyjinx characters standing in front of light blue ocean

J.J. Abrams has had his hand in some of the most legendary Hollywood productions ever made, having been a producer for LOST, Westworld, and some of the more recent Mission Impossible movies. Abrams has also directed some incredibly successful films, including Star Trek (2009) and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

In 2018, Abrams founded Bad Robot Games, a spinoff of his movie production studio, Bad Robot. Partnering with Epic Games, Bad Robot Games revealed Spyjinx in 2020, a spy-themed mobile game for which Abrams served as creative director. Unfortunately, Epic pulled support for Spyjinx in April 2021 following an unsuccessful beta.

Next: Best Horror Movies Based On Video Games

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