The Guillermo Del Toro mentoring program
Breaking into Hollywood is very much a Catch-22 in that you can't get a job without experience, can't get experience without a job. Obviously, it's very difficult to get anyone to lift a finger to help you.
So it's definitely cool when you see somebody established giving a newcomer a shot, and you hope more Hollywood big shots will eventually do the same.
Now we know that Don't Be Afraid of the Dark wasn't a big hit at the box office, and as we reported on TG it's one of several films that didn't do well financially, but considering it reportedly cost $28 million, it should make it's money back and then some with DVD / Blu-Ray and foreign. (Del Toro told Wired it actually came in under budget and under schedule).
What's really remarkable is that Dark, "the scariest movie I saw when I was a kid" as he told the L.A. Times, was given to Troy Nixey, who had never directed a feature film before.
One reason Del Toro let Nixey direct it is he felt it would be too close to Pan's Labyrinth if he directed it himself. Nixey did make a short film that Del Toro liked, Latchkey's Lament, and he also worked in comics, doing illustrations for Batman and Only the End of the World Again by Neil Gaiman.
Nixey, a terrific comic artist, brought his unique artistry to the monsters in Dark, telling Comic Book Resources, "I was drawing a lot. It's nice to have that as a communication tool when you're talking to the art department. You automatically connect with the other artists because you're able to talk from the came part of your brain."
As for his big break, which very few directors get their first time at bat, Nixey added that he wanted to get out of comics and move on to features for some time before this one in a million shot came through.
"I was hoping I'd be able to prove to people that I could tell stories in that medium," he continued. "But I was not expecting at all for this to come from Guillermo, who's my favorite working director right now."