Born in the Bronx, Ferrara started making amateur films on Super 8 in his teens before making his debut with violent exploitation films such as 'Driller Killer' and 'Ms.45'. Good reviews for the latter helped create his cult reputation, leading to larger budgets, studio funding and 'name' actors (Christopher Walken, Harvey Keitel), but he still likes taking his camera out onto the meanest streets of New York, as the ultra-cheap, highly controversial 'Bad Lieutenant' demonstrates.
Often features characters caught in self-destructive patterns (King of New York, Bad Lieutenant)
Frequent use of religious imagery
His characters are often deeply flawed individuals trying to survive in a bleak world.
Frequently sets his films in New York City
Frequent references to philosophical and religious concepts
Uses very little, if any, music in his films
Often collaborates with screenwriter Nicholas St.John
Long running camera shots
Many of his protagonists are portrayed as inherently decent men who have been caught up in violence.
His films often end with the death of the main character.
Recurring theme of faith and redemption