George Lucas pioneered the genre by writing and directing the 1973 film American Graffiti.
The genre gained more credibility during the 1980s with the appearance of writer/director John Hughes. His legacy of teen films (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, etc.) proved to be popular not only with audiences, but also with critics.
One of the faces of the rise in Independent film productions in the 1990s was Gregg Araki. His films, particularly the “Teen Apocalypse Trilogy” (consisting of Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation, and Nowhere) are notable for capturing the disaffected attitudes of suburban teenagers of Generation X.
Eric Rohmer, a pioneering director from the French New Wave, was notable for focusing on young adults or youth and their complications with love in a number of his films. Some of such works include La Collectionneuse, Claire’s Knee, Pauline at the Beach, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, and A Summer’s Tale.
Popular actors in teen films have included Annette Funicello, Hayley Mills, and Sal Mineo, in the 1960s and 70s, members of the Brat Pack, John Cusack in the 80s and early 90s, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, Neve Campbell, Rose McGowan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Seann William Scott, Eliza Dushku, Kirsten Dunst, Shannon Elizabeth, Gina Ravera, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Jason Biggs, Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Emma Stone and other teenage sensations in the late 90s and throughout the 2000s, who were either pre-teens or teens at the time of the movies themselves.