A native New Yorker, John Gatins was born in Manhattan, where his father was a New York City police officer. The family relocated to the Hudson Valley near Poughkeepsie, where Gatins grew up and later attended Vassar College, graduating in 1990 as a Drama Major.
Gatins then moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. In 1993, he landed a role in a small budget horror film, Witchboard 2: The Devil's Doorway, followed by another small budget horror, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994). He landed small roles in big budget films such as Varsity Blues (1999) and Big Fat Liar (2002), but in the meantime, had taken up screenwriting as well.
Having worked as an actor on the Tollin/Robbins production Varsity Blues, he then served as executive producer on Robbins' comedy Ready to Rumble (2000) before having his first screenplay, Summer Catch (2001), starring Jessica Biel and Freddie Prinze Jr., directed by Michael Tollin. Tollin also directed Gatins' second script, Hard Ball (2001), starring Keanu Reeves and Diane Lane. Gatins made his TV debut by creating and executive-producing the Tollin/Robbins WB network pilot Learning Curve.
Gatins' next co-wrote the football drama Coach Carter (2005), starring Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Thomas Carter. He made his directorial debut with his own screenplay, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (2005), starring Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell.
Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (2005)
Big Fat Liar (2002)
Varsity Blues (1999)
Another Day in Paradise (1998)
Gods and Monsters (1998) (uncredited)
Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994)
Witchboard 2: The Devil's Doorway (1993)