Director Michael Lehmann is best known for his quirky, jet-black comedies, although the late '90s and early 2000s found him delving into the worlds of episodic television and chick-flick romantic comedy. Before becoming a filmmaker, Lehmann studied painting at New York's School of Visual Arts. He then studied philosophy at Columbia University, and after graduating began studying in West Germany to be an academic. He then changed direction and became project manager for the video department at Zoetrope studios. Just as that company crumbled, he found himself accepted to the University of Southern California. He began his career after making his now-notorious thesis film, Beaver Gets a Boner (1988), for USC. This film attracted Hollywood interest, and he soon found himself represented by the prestigious William Morris Agency. In addition to his thesis, he also wrote a very strange screenplay that became his 1989 hit Heathers, the tale of two high-school outsiders who begin killing popular girls while making the deaths look like suicides. His 1991 film Meet the Applegates, which features actors dressed as giant beetles living in a suburban American home like any other family, made a bid for cult status but went nowhere; his next film, the mega-budgeted Bruce Willis vehicle Hudson Hawk (1991) was a notorious bomb.