In the late first decade of the 21st century, Jeff Nichols made himself a dark horse darling of the independent film world with a pair of small, haunting films that drew nearly universal critical acclaim. An Arkansas native, Nichols became one of a cadre of young creative types to emerge from the North Carolina School of the Arts' film program, among them his friend, Hollywood wunderkind Robert Gordon Green. Green helped produce Nichols' first feature, the Southern Gothic revenge tale "Shotgun Stories" (2007), which began a string of collaborations with actor Michael Shannon. The film garnered some buzz on the indie festival circuit, setting the stage for an even more auspicious greeting for his sophomore project, the apocalyptically-tinged "Take Shelter" (2011), which stunned the film world by garnering laurels at the Cannes Film Festival on the way to a raft of indie accolades. Wielding an underplayed aesthetic pallet often compared to directorial legend Terrence Malick, Nichols made it onto Hollywood's radar as a hot commodity amongst a new generation of visual storytellers.