Native New Yorkers Eric Bress and Jonathan Mackye Gruber met in 1994 when Gruber was graduating from USC Film School. Bress had recently moved to Los Angeles after graduating from Syracuse University and collaborated with Gruber on his USC senior thesis. Gruber already had a professional background in cinematography, while Bress had previously worked as a sound engineer. Both had won numerous awards from their respective film schools and they formed a partnership.
Their first feature film, Blunt, was written by Bress and directed by Gruber. The independent, small budget film toured various film festivals and won the Best Comedy Feature at the 1998 New York International Independent Film Festival, as well as the prestigious Lumieres at the 1998 New Orleans Film Festival.
The following year, the pair sold a one-hour pilot to Disney/ABC, then sold their first major spec script, Frozen, to Phoenix Pictures. But their biggest career boost was when they were hired to write the script Final Destination 2 (2003) for New Line Cinema. Bress and Gruber decided to direct their next screenplay themselves, and The Butterfly Effect (2004), starring Ashton Kutcher, was their second collaboration with New Line Cinema.
The Butterfly Effect (2004)