His first job in movies was as a production assistant on the 1981 low-budget film, Hell Night, starring Linda Blair. He spent the next six years working in the art department as a set dresser and in set construction while struggling to establish himself as a writer. His first produced writing credit (shared) was on the 1987 film, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, directed by Chuck Russell.
Darabont is one of only six filmmakers in history with the unique distinction of having his first two feature films receive nominations for the Best Picture Academy Award: 1994's The Shawshank Redemption (with a total of seven nominations) and 1999's The Green Mile (four nominations).
Darabont himself collected Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for each film (both based on works by Stephen King), as well as nominations for both films from the Director's Guild of America, and a nomination from the Writers Guild of America for "The Shawshank Redemption." He won the Humanitas Prize, the PEN Center USA West Award, and the Scriptor Award for his screenplay of "The Shawshank Redemption."