A protege of Steven Soderbergh and Nancy Tenenbaum, Greg Mottola made his directorial debut with "The Daytrippers" at the Slamdance Film Festival in 1996, which then went on to win mild critical applause and earn him a place in the latest new wave of independent filmmakers. Raised on Long Island, New York, Mottola studied art at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he also made some student films and worked for one week as a production assistant on "Day of the Dead" (1985), a George Romero horror flick. He attended Columbia University for graduate school in film. While there, he made a short film entitled "Swingin' in the Painters's Room" (1989), which focused on New Yorkers, narcissism, infidelity and a portrait of Frank Sinatra all in 11 minutes and in one continuous shot as an homage to Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil." An agent sent the film to Steven "sex, lies and videotape" Soderbergh, who met with Mottola. Soderbergh liked a script Mottola had written called "Lush Life," and recommended him to the Sundance Film Festival lab. Mottola studied there in 1992, but "Lush Life" was considered too expensive to be made indie. Instead, Nancy Tenenbaum, who had produced "sex, lies and videotape" and whom Soderbergh had connected to Mottola, suggested the young filmmaker writer something which could be done on a smaller scale. Over a several year period, Mottola wrote drafts of "The Daytrippers," which focuses on a young wife in Long Island who believes her husband is cheating on her. Enlisting her family for support, they pile into a car and head for Manhattan to get the goods on the husband. Ultimately rejected by Sundance, "The Daytrippers" was produced for $60,000 on 16 millimeter, and a camera was even stolen during production. Starring Anne Meara, Parker Posey, Liev Schreiber, and Stanley Tucci -- indie favorites all -- it premiered at the Slamdance Festival in 1996, where it won the Grand Jury Prize, and was distributed by Columbia/TriStar that year. (Mottola claims to have rejected an offer by a Hollywood producer to do the film through the studio system in favor of going indie.) The film was not as embraced at the box office and by critics as other indies of the year such as "Swingers," and "Welcome to the Dollhouse," but it beat out the latter for the Grand Prix award at the Deauville Film Festival, and certainly was enough to launch Mottola's career. Mottola also appeared in a small role in the 1992 independent feature "Vermont Is Forever."