Welles ultimately had such a big impact on the film industry that it's hard to imagine him starting out today without the influence of himself from 60 years ago! But here's a suggestion:
Although he did poorly on tests and had a tendency to avoid completing projects as assigned, 23-year-old Welles graduates from NYU film school as a prodigy. His final student film is a dazzling essay which shows several classic Shakespearean characters trying to cope with modern New York life. Welles plays all the main characters himself and the film receives high praise for its unique intercutting and layered audio effects. The short film is purchased by the Sundance Channel and is scheduled as filler to be shown between features. It goes on to be nominated for best short subject at the following year's Academy Awards.
Always looking for the next big thing, HBO signs Welles to an unprecedented deal to develop an edgy crime series shot entirely in first person and narrated by the never-seen leading actor - Welles. The series garners a strong buzz from the media and becomes almost as big as "The Sopranos".
Although successful, Welles becomes bored with the show and dramatically announces he is leaving after one season to sign a deal with the floundering Miramax. To secure the hot young producer/director/actor, Miramax agrees to give him final cut on his first feature: a biting satire on a media mogul who some say is based on Rupert Murdoch. The satire is so close, in fact, that Murdoch silently threatens Miramax and the studio considers releasing the film direct to DVD. Welles stages a publicity campaign via Entertainment Tonight to get the film released in theaters so it will qualify for an Oscar. The film is given a limited release and ends up on many critics' year-end best lists and is nominated for several awards. It wins only one, a Golden Globe for best screenplay, which Welles shares with co-screenwriter Oliver Stone who claims he wrote most of it.
Miramax suggests a less controversial follow-up, a period drama based on a highly-recognizable (according to internet surveys) Jane Austen novel. Welles disagrees and insists on bringing to the screen an obscure Booth Tarkington novel that was adapted only once as a film in 1925. In order to get his way, Welles gives up his salary and final cut and agrees to shoot the film in Vancouver. Unfortunately, Welles' cut of the film tests poorly with preview audiences while the director is in Saudi Arabia making a documentary, so Miramax recuts the film and releases it in the late summer to little box office interest. Fortunately, to capitalize on Welles' still successful HBO crime series (which Welles has been returning to as a guest performer/director), Miramax agrees to release a special edition DVD of Welles' second film restoring the cuts made to the theatrical release. This restores Welles' good standing with the critics.
Currently, Welles has decided to return to his first love, the essay film, and has recently completed two very inexpensive, but well-received works which have critics calling Welles the "thinking man's Michael Moore". A possible "new form of reality TV show" devised by Welles has been announced.