Victor Ronald Salva, born March 29, 1958, is an American film director. He has been making films since he was just 12 years old. One of his favorite pastimes as a kid was watching Creature Features on television and is a self-confessed “Jaws baby”.
In 1986, he made the low budget 37-minute short horror film “Something in the Basement” which attracted the attention of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. Who in turn helped Salva finance his first feature-length film, “Clownhouse”. And this is where things go wrong.
While directing “Clownhouse”, Salva, then 29, molested one of the film’s actors, 12-year-old Nathan Forrest Winters. The sexual acts were videotaped by Salva, who pleaded guilty to one count of lewd and lascivious conduct, one count of oral copulation with a person under 14, and three counts of procuring child pornography. Salva was sentenced to three years in prison. He served 15 months of the sentence before being paroled, and has registered as a sex offender.
Salva reports that his biological father abandoned the family and that his stepfather was often drunk and physically abusive. Whether this was an explanation or an excuse for his actions, it has never been made known.
After being released from prison, Salva had a series of odd jobs, while trying to get hired as a film director, living off some financial support given to him by Coppola. Seven years after “Clownhouse”, Salva made another film, “The Nature of the Beast”. In 1995, he directed the Disney-financed “Powder”. Nathan Forrest Winters (then in his 20s) publicly boycotted the film to bring attention to Salva’s sexual misdeeds, which contributed to the film’s less-than-stellar box office. The subsequent media coverage of Salva’s criminal history, and speculation as to why Disney would hire a convicted sex offender, ensured that Salva would not make another film until 1999’s “Rites of Passage”.