P. J. Pesce
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Early life and education
Pesce was born and raised in Miami, Florida, in 1961. After completing an undergraduate degree in both English literature and architecture at Columbia University. He entered the Graduate Film School and studied directing under Martin Scorsese (from whom he received honors) and Brian DePalma (from whom he received a failing grade). Pesce has worked as a musician, a film editor, a studio recording engineer, and a film instructor at Columbia, UCLA, and USC, as a groom at Calder Racetrack. He studied editing with Ralph Rosenblum (Annie Hall, The Pawnbroker) and acting with Brad Dourif (Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest).
Pesce was named Best Independent Director of the Year at the Hamptons International Film Festival for his critically acclaimed film The Desperate Trail, which he wrote and directed. Entertainment Weekly called it “The best Western on any size screen since Unforgiven”, and Tom Shales of the Washington Post described it as "a new high point in the cable movie”. It was the second highest rated cable movie of 1995, and in addition it sold over 60,000 home video units.
After a long search, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez tapped Pesce to direct the prequel of their surprise cult hit From Dusk till Dawn. The hangman’s daughter went on to become the best direct-to-video sale in the history of dimension with over 140,000 units sold. Pesce received a Special Grand Jury Award for his short film, The Afterlife of Grandpa at the Houston International Film Festival, and Young Filmmaker of the Year from the Edinburgh Film Festival. He is the recipient of Grey Advertising's Student Filmmaker Award and a Presidential Fellowship from Columbia's School of the Arts.
Amongst the films he has directed are From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, produced by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, which is a prequel to From Dusk Till Dawn and From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money. He also directed Sniper 3, starring Tom Berenger who starred in Sniper and Sniper 2.
He is also a screenwriter of note, having sold Untitled Firestein-Pesce Action Project which was unproduced for a record-setting $2 million.
Pesce often collaborates with fellow screenwriter Tom Abrams; they wrote Lost Boys: The Tribe (for which Pesce was also the director), a 2008 sequel to the 1987 film The Lost Boys, as well as the 2010 film Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball.
In 1994 Pesce and six other filmmakers including documentary filmmaker Marco Williams and Academy Award nominee Bernard Joffa (from the 1990 Best Live Action Short film Senzeni Na?), were featured in movie journalist Billy Frolick's book called What I Really Want to Do Is Direct: Seven Film School Graduates Go to Hollywood. The book followed the lives of seven young, would-be directors over three years as they struggled with the ups-and-downs of Hollywood.