A bright child, John Sayles began reading novels before age 9. A Williams grad in 1972, he shunned a corporate career to work various blue-collar jobs, moving to east Boston to take a factory job. He wrote stories and submitted them to various magazines, and the Atlantic Monthly gave him the idea of publishing them in a novel–thus “Pride of the Bimbos” (1975) was born.
In the late 1970s he worked for renowned low-budget producer Roger Corman as a screenwriter. He saved much of the money he earned from that job, got some friends together and made Return of the Secaucus Seven (1979) in 25 days. Altough it was a hit, he had trouble obtaining financing for the films he wanted to make because he would not give up his right of final cut. Baby It’s You (1983) was Sayles’ only film made under studio control.
In 1983 the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship granted him a tax-free income of $32,000 a year for 5 years. That stipend and money he earned for writing such films as The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986), Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1983) and Breaking In (1989) enabled him to make the kinds of films he wanted to make. Lone Star (1996) placed Sayles in the ranks of top American filmmakers. In it and his other films, a broadly appealing social consciousness emerges, showing Sayles to be concerned with what’s going on with regional cultures, national values and what living in the US is like today. Sayles and Maggie Renzi, whom he met during college, have lived together since the 1970s, splitting their time between a Hoboken, NJ, house and a farm in upstate New York. They have no plans to marry.
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