Craig Brewer
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Famous for:
His work in “Hustle & Flow”
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Hustle & Flow


American film director and screenwriter Craig Brewer is best known for his work in “Hustle & Flow,” which brought him the Audience Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and the Audience Choice Award at the Nashville Film Festival, not to mention nominations at the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, the Online Film Critics Society Awards and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards. Starring Terrence Howard, the film also won an Oscar for Best Original Song and was a box office hit. Brewer was first noticed in 2000 with “The Poor and Hungry,” from which he took home three Nashville Film Festival Awards, a Magnolia Independent Film Festival Award and a Hollywood Film Festival award. Despite its success on the festival circuit, the drama failed to land theatrical distribution. Brewer's new film, “Black Snake Moan” (2006), failed to achieve the same success as its predecessors. Brewer also wrote the scripts of Richard Gale's “Pressure” (2002) and Harvey Khan's “Water's Edge” (2003).

While most of his films are set in Memphis, Tennessee, Brewer, who was named one of Fade In Magazine's “100 People in Hollywood You Need to Know” in 2005, may be typecast as a Southern director. Commenting about it, he said, “I hope so. As a matter of fact, I’m very proud about that. I would really like to represent my region. It seems to me that the one thing that we are missing right now in films is a regionalism. I look at some of my favorite directors, I mean, let’s look at Spike Lee’s films and even from his small films. ‘Inside Man,’ there is an intense inspiration from jazz. He is a jazz filmmaker I feel. There’s times that you’ll be watching something and it’s obviously part of the narrative strain and then it just gets almost like a little improvy. Suddenly it’s like somebody just came in with a new instrument and they’re kind of ripping on the clarinet. I think that comes from Brooklyn. I think that comes from this dad. I think it comes from living where he’s living. I think the same thing can be said about Alexander Payne from here he is, I think, the same thing about Robert Rodriguez. I think the same thing about John Singleton and ‘South Central.’ I really feel empowered and inspired by Memphis musicians. We have a history of not having much and trying to do a lot with it and we’re not really professionals. Jerry Lee Lewis is not a good piano player, but he plays it a certain way and he bangs on that piano a certain way that that’s Jerry Lee Lewis. If you give him a Bach contada, he would make it sound like a Jerry Lee Lewis Bach contada. Helen Wolf is not the prettiest sounding voice in the world, but with the right microphone in front of him and the right guitar and the right song, he’s magic and so I want to be considered a Memphis filmmaker even if I do something that takes place in Alabama. It’s why I continue to live there. It’s why I continue to be inspired.”

Currently, Brewer resides in Memphis with his wife Jodi and their child.


Childhood and Family:

Craig Brewer was born on December 6, 1971, in Virginia, but spent his youth in California and Chicago. His family settled in Vallejo, CA, where father Walter D. Brewer was a corporate executive for the Matson Navigation Company and mother Gail worked for the school board. When he was young, his dad, who was a great fan of movies, often rented videos for the family. Impacted by the films, Craig started writing plays and with support from his father, he was able to present his plays at local theaters. After graduating from College Park High School in Pleasant Hill, CA, in 1988, Craig taught drama at his alma mater in courses managed by his mother. During that same period, he nourished his love for writing and theater by overseeing the Center REPertory Company in Walnut Creek and attending the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. In 1994, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he once lived.

Craig is married to high school sweetheart Jodi. The couple has one child. Craig has a younger sister named Amanda Brewer. From his mother's side, Craig was the grandchild of former major league baseball player “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry.

In 1998, Craig’s father died of a heart attack. He was 49 years old.

The Poor and Hungry


After working at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, Craig Brewer moved his family to Memphis, Tennessee, and started to write screenplays. To support his family, he took a job at a local shop. Despite financial problems, Brewer eventually made his first film, “The Poor and Hungry” (2000), thanks to some money left to him by his father, who died from a heart attack in 1998. About a Memphis car thief (played by Eric Tate) who falls for one of his victims, the harsh crime thriller, which was shot on digital video, became a favorite on the festival circuit and was finally purchased by the Independent Film Channel. For his effort, Brewer received a Best Feature Film Award at the Magnolia Independent Film Festival, a Hollywood Discovery Award for Best Digital Feature at the Hollywood Film Festival, and several other awards. Although the film was unable to get theatrical distribution, “The Poor and Hungry” put the writer/director on the map, which led to a meeting with film producer and ex-Columbia Pictures chief Stephanie Allain. With support from Allen, Brewer tirelessly looked for a Hollywood studio to film his next script, which would later be known as “Hustle & Flow.”

Meanwhile, Brewer executive produced the eight-minute length film “Morning Ritual” (2001), which was co-directed and co-written by J. Lazarus Hawk and Lazarus Hawk. He contributed to the script of Richard Gale's thriller “Pressure” (2002), and directed and wrote the short “Resolutions of the Complacent Man” (2003). Also in 2003, he wrote the script for the indie drama “Water's Edge,” which was helmed by Harvey Khan and starred Nathan Fillion and Chandra West as a married couple who uncover a web of corruption and deceit in their quiet hometown.

After struggling for about three years, Brewer and Allain eventually got financial support from director/producer John Singleton. By 2004, “Hustle & Flow” had begun shooting with Brewer casting Terrance Howard in the lead and hip-hop singer Ludacris, actor Anthony Anderson and noted soul artist Isaac Hayes in the supporting roles. Focusing on a streetwise hustler and Memphis pimp who waits to take up a new life as a self made rap artist, the drama premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2005 and won the Audience Award and the Cinematography Award in the Dramatic category and a Grand Jury Prize nomination. The film went on to earn recognition at the Nashville Film Festival, from which it netted the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature, and the Atlanta Film and Video Festival before being released theatrically in July 2005.

“Hustle & Flow” was a box office hit and grossed more than $22 million with budget of $8 million. It was also a success with critics and collected many awards and nominations, including an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Three Six Mafia's “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” and a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Howard. Brewer nabbed a Chicago Film Critics Association nomination for Most Promising Filmmaker, an Online Film Critics Society nomination for Best Breakthrough Filmmaker, and a Washington DC Area Film Critics Association nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Also in 2005, Brewer appeared in the first episode of the TV music series “The Music Makers,” opposite composer/actor Scott Bomar. He also was featured in “The Charlie Rose Show.”

In 2006, Brewer resurfaced with “Black Snake Moan,” which was again produced by Stephanie Allain and John Singleton. Debuting as the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007 and released theatrically three months later on March 2, the dramatic film, which starred Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci, received mixed reviews. “Black Snake Moan” also cast R&B star Justin Timberlake as Ricci's boyfriend.

In 2008, Brewer branched out to television when he sat in the director's chair for an episode of the Shawn Ryan-created crime series “The Shield” called “Petty Cash.”


  • Sundance Film Festival: Audience Award, Dramatic, “Hustle & Flow,” 2005

  • Nashville Film Festival: Audience Choice Award, Best Feature, “Hustle & Flow,” 2005

  • Magnolia Independent Film Festival: Best Feature Film, “The Poor and Hungry,” 2004

  • Nashville Film Festival: Audience Choice Award, “The Poor and Hungry,” 2001

  • Nashville Film Festival: Dreammaker Award, “The Poor and Hungry,” 2001

  • Nashville Film Festival: Tennessee Independent Spirit Award, Special Award of Merit, “The Poor and Hungry,” 2001

  • Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood Discovery Award, Best Digital Feature, “The Poor and Hungry,” 2000

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