A filmmaker since the age of 12, Salva made numerous shorts on video. He gained industry attention and several awards with his film "Something in the Basement." Salva began an association with Francis Ford Coppola which lead to the auteur's son Roman serving as executive in charge of production on his first feature "Clownhouse" (1988). This creepy story economically demonstrated how a young boy learns that his long held fear of clowns is actually well warranted. Reminiscent of the early work of writer-director John Carpenter, the film derives much of its tension from a savvy use of deep focus to emphasize background action. Despite amateurish performances, corny heavy-handed music, and erratic sound recording, "Clownhouse" revealed a genuine talent working with generic material in a personal and resonant manner. After an enforced career hiatus, Salva returned to filmmaking with "Nature of the Beast" (1995), a direct-to-video genre outing starring Lance Henriksen and went on to helm the similarly direct-to-video drama "Rites of Passage" (1999) about a troubled family. Francis Ford Coppola served as executive producer of "Jeepers Creepers" (2001), Salva's first theatrical release in over five years. A surprisingly clever, stylish and scary entry in the teen horror genre, the film spawned a 2003 sequel which Salva also wrote and directed.