RISA BRAMON GARCIA
The Late BloomerAge 41 Why her? The casting expert's feature directorial debut, 200 Cigarettes, with Ben Affleck, Courtney Love, and a dozen other exploding stars, is being touted as an American Graffiti for the millennium. Creative crutch Zen and the art of shoe maintenance. "I always change my sneakers at lunch," she says. "The psychology behind it is, Take a moment, look at yourself, focus in, then move on." Next? "I'd like to make an American Mike Leigh [Secrets & Lies] movie."
The Four Player
Age 30 Why him? He's a quadruple threat as the writer-director-producer-star of the autobiographical Hav Plenty, a slick urban love story that left Harvey Weinstein completely smitten. Work habits Keeping it close to home. "It was weird directing myself in a love scene that I wrote about a love scene that I had in real life." Next? A multipicture deal with Weinstein's Miramax.
Age 5 3/4 Why her? Holding her own against Edward Norton in the Independent Film Channel's "Christie" ads, this Paulie girl's got rangeeven if she doesn't know how to spell it yet. Work habits Using what she knows. "My sister had a hamster, and it died one day. I thought of that [for Paulie] and really cried." Plan B? "They had water that was fake tears." Next? Playing Russell Crowe's daughter in Michael Mann's yet-to-be-titled upcoming drama, also starring Al Pacino.
Chairman of the Soundboard
Age 37 Why him? As one of Hollywood's top foley artists, Hecker provides the sound effects for up to a dozen titles a year (Air Force One, Starship Troopers) as well as some famous creature vocals. When you heard Lost in Space's galactic monkey and Godzilla, as well as her screaming, hissing babies, you heard him. Work habits Based at Sony Pictures, Hecker works up to 50 hours a week when foleying a movie. His favorite prop: the ever-versatile baseball bat. Creative crutch Chloraseptic, to keep his throat limber. Next? Supernova and the porn-industry tale 8mm.
Age 34 Why him? For a New Zealander, Niccol has an uncanny understanding of America's carnivorous media cultureas he made abundantly clear in The Truman Show, the sharpest, most original screenplay of the year. Or maybe it's just the paranoia: He also pennedand directedGattaca, last year's stylish sci-fi thriller about a future ruled by a merciless genetic pecking order. Work habits "I'm always tearing pieces of paper from magazines in doctors' offices and friends' houseslittle things that give me ideas. I try to be subtle, but I'm pretty terrible about it." Recurring nightmare "That The Truman Show is real. That everyone around me is just actingor, in my case, overacting." Creative crutch "I don't really have one. I just keep writing, even if it's bad. I write a lot of bad stuff till I get it out of my system." Next? "I'm too superstitious to answer that question. I figure that just because they liked the last two things doesn't mean they'll like the next one. In fact, you'll probably never hear of me again."