In 1999, Nicholas Jarecki graduated from NYU with a film degree, but no idea how to get a job making films. He rather ingeniously solved that dilemma by asking 20 established filmmakers, from John Schlesinger to Neil LaBute, to tell him how they got started in the business. "It was my mom's idea," Jarecki says over lunch at a midtown steakhouse. "I was complaining about how I couldn't get a job, and I told her that I just needed to get a bunch of directors in a room and ask them how they did it. And she said, "That would make a great book."
Published in 2001, Breaking In: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start, described just that, and it bought Jarecki the opportunity he'd need to make his own directorial debut. One of the directors Jarecki interviewed was James Toback. The auteur behind such notoriously love-it/hate-it fare as Fingers, The Pick-up Artist and Two Girls and a Guy, the stories Toback told during his sessions with Jarecki were full of sex and drugs and crime and just a little bit of Dostoyevsky; maybe unsurprisingly he stood out to Jarecki as "having had the most interesting life" of anyone he’d interviewed. When the younger director heard a few years later that Toback was getting ready to shoot an erotic thriller in New York City, Jarecki left message after message for Toback, begging to be allowed access to the set. No response. Just about to give up, Jarecki placed one more call. It was the day before shooting was to start. Toback answered. “He said, “Get your camera and come down tomorrow,” Jarecki recalls. “So I did.” The Outsider, which premiered at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, was thus born.