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As an assistant cameraperson for over six years, writer-director Patty Jenkins learned the ropes of the entertainment industry the hard way: through long hours of toil. But unlike most first time directors, Jenkins knew the ins and outs of working on set before directing her first feature, "Monster" (2003), the true-life story of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute executed in 2002 in Florida after being convicted of murdering six men. Despite her inexperience as a director, Jenkins elicited a bravura performance from her lead actress, Charlize Theron, who created a tremendous amount of Oscar buzz. Jenkins grew up in Kansas with Beat Generation heavies William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg as neighbors. A young Jenkins spent much of her spare time at the local cinema where she saw all kinds of movies. Though she later considered this her "film education", it never occurred to her at the time to be a filmmaker. After high school, Jenkins attended Cooper's Union in New York to study painting, but quickly traded her brushes for a camera package. Jenkins spent the next six years as a cameraperson on commercials and music videos for directors Tarsem and Brett Ratner. After this period, Jenkins moved to Los Angeles to attend the American Film Institute's Directing Program, where she made five short films that ranged in genre and form, including the female superhero short, "Velocity Rules" (2001). The short was selected to be shown at the 2001 AFT Fest. It was because of her entry into the AFI Fest that Jenkins was able to pitch her story about Wuornos, the first female serial killer to be executed in the state of Florida. Manager Brad Wyman liked the pitch and signed on to produce. Though they barely able to crack seven figures with the budget, Jenkins managed to score top talent to play her main character. In fact, Theron waived her usual fee in exchange for a producing credit, and later put up her own money for finishing costs. Meanwhile, Jenkins contacted Wuornos on death row in order to make sure that she would tell the story as accurately as possible-a result of the tabloid-style journalists who labeled Wuornos a monster fit to be killed. Wuornos was executed during pre-production, an event that strengthened Jenkins's resolve to tell her story in the most realistic and honest way as possible. The result of her hard efforts was a film that was hailed all around the festival circuit: it was nominated for three 2004 Independent Spirit Awards, and was voted one of the 10 best films of 2003 by the American Film Institute. Meanwhile, critics heaped praise on Theron, who became a top contended for an Oscar nod. Not bad for someone who just a few years ago didn't consider a career in filmmaking. Jenkins moved to television next, directing the made for TV film "Five" (Lifetime 2011) as well as the pilots for the mystery series "The Killing" (AMC 2011-13; Netflix, 2014) and "Betrayal" (ABC 2013-14). In April 2015, it was announced that Jenkins would replace original director Michelle MacLaren on the big-budget comic book film "Wonder Woman" (2017), which opened to enormously positive reviews and box office returns.
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