After a longtime collaboration working as a second unit director alongside Kevin Reynolds, Mark Illsley made his feature debut with the 1999 Sundance Film Festival favorite "Happy, Texas. " While attending film school at USC, Illsley first met up with Reynolds and served as producer of the director's thesis film "Proof," a 22-minute short later expanded into Reynolds' debut feature "Fandango" (1985), notable as an early starring vehicle for Kevin Costner. Illsley's first screen credit came in 1986 as assistant director of Clay Borris' thriller feature "Quiet Cool." He reteamed with Reynolds on "The Beast" (1988), again serving as second unit director of the compelling Soviet/Afghan war film starring Jason Patric. His name appeared onscreen again in 1990 as key production assistant on Alan Rudolph's "Love at Large" before he reteamed with Reynolds in the second unit director capacity on "Robin Hood: Price of Thieves" (1991). In this popular adventure film, Illsley was responsible for the striking shot of an arrow spinning through the air plucked for use in the trailer, television spots and music videos that promoted the film. Less successful was the 17th Century-set Easter Island civil war epic "Rapa Nui" (1994). Directed by Reynolds with Illsley once again heading up the second unit, the film proved a rough shoot, with scenes requiring scaling mountains and hanging off of cliffs to capture the remarkable scenery. Illsley ended his partnership with Reynolds after this feature and prior to the director's doomed "Waterworld" (1996), but found movie work hard to come by, and ended up at one point doing time as a telemarketer for a hair restorative company.