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Born in New York City in 1953, Barry Sonnenfeld grew up in Washington Heights. He attended the High School of Music and Arts in Manhattan and eventually was accepted into New York University. He, however, completed his bachelor's degree in Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. During his stay at New York University, he majored in political science. It was after the cross-country that Barry Sonnefeld enrolled in New York University's Institute of Film and Television that he started his career in the film industry in earnest. Like most directors, Barry Sonnenfeld did not start out directing Hollywood blockbusters. Instead, he directed small promotional films music videos and the occasional X-rated movie.