Any good filmmaker, you'll see how their projects sort of led into one another through influences they were constantly exposed to and how a filmmaker will take advantage of that exposure to explore multiple angles. While many think of Michael Mann and immediately think of his 1995 film Heat, about a robber facing off against a cop, few realize it wasn't the first heist film he did. That rests with his 1981 acclaimed film Thief which was actually his feature film debut after working in television for five years. And THAT film was influenced by his directorial debut, the 1979 TV movie The Jericho Mile. Partly filmed in Folsom Prison, Mann described how that influenced the writing of Thief:
It probably informed my ability to imagine what Frank's life was like, where he was from, and what those 12 or 13 years in prison were like for him.. The idea of creating his character, was to have somebody who has been outside of society. An outsider who has been removed from the evolution of everything from technology to the music that people listen to, to how you talk to a girl, to what do you want with your life and how do you go about getting it. Everything that's normal development, that we experience, he was excluded from, by design. In the design of the character and the engineering of the character, that was the idea.
And with that, Mann began a series of high-caliber crime dramas that has led to a series of fascinating tales set around criminals trying to escape their lives from Manhunter to Heat to Collateral to Public Enemies. And all them embodying their motivations with visceral reality. Stay tuned!