Penelope Spheeris

Actress, Director, Writer

12/2/1945 (74 years old)

Penelope Spheeris is best known for her chronicles of the disassociated youth living on the fringes of society and the music that binds them together. She began her career making educational films and then by directing music videos as well as sales presentation films. Her first feature length documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization came out in 1981. It chronicled the L.A. punk scene and examined the frustration, sorrow, and violence of its participators. She continued her exploration of often violent, disinfranchised youth in her next two fictional features: Suburbia (1984) and The Boys Next Door (1985), both of which she admits are exploitation films. She made another fictionalized feature in 1986 before returning to full-length documentaries. In The Decline of Western Civilization: Part II -- The Metal Years (1988), she chronicles the L.A. heavy metal scene, the newest metal bands, and the older British and American bands that influenced them.