J.D. Dillard became Hollywood’s hip darling when his debut feature film Sleight premiered at Sundance in 2016 and has been obtained by WWE Studios and Blumhouse. The film went on to gross $4 million on a shoestring $250,000 funding –and opened the door to other endeavors such as his sophomore Sundance struck Sweetheart and co-writing and directing Fox’s remake of the 1986 classic The Fly. Most recently, Legendary won a bidding war on Dillard’s racially charged thriller Mastering Your previous , scoring him a documented seven-figure bargain in the process.

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Dillard took a chance (and a huge pay cut) when he became a receptionist at Abrams’s generation firm. But that chance has paid off significantly.