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20 Famous directors on Filmmaking

01 Abbas KiarostamiAbbas Kiarostami
“I never reflect or convey that which I have not experienced myself.”

03 david fincher

David Fincher
“What you learn from that first, and I don’t call it ‘trial by fire,’ I call it ‘baptism by fire,’ is that you are going to have to take all of the responsibility, because basically when it gets right down to it, you are going to get all of the blame, so you might as well have made all of the decisions that led to people either liking it or disliking it. There’s nothing worse than hearing somebody say ‘Oh, you made that movie? I thought that movie sucked,’ and you have to agree with them, you know?”

02 won kar wai

Wong Kar Wai
“The editing process is almost like the shooting process. It’s almost like framing. When we talk about framing, it’s about the choice of directors. What are the things that you want the audience to see, and what are the things that you want to exclude? To exclude them doesn’t mean it’s not working, but it will give you a sense of expectations. In the Mood for Love, for instance, the original idea of My Blueberry Nights . . . it’s based on a short film I made during that period. In fact, it is not a short film, it is chapters in In the Mood for Love . . . But at the end of the day I realized, the film itself, the story happens in the 1960s, it’s strong enough so we don’t need these chapters. These chapters would become a short film afterwards to be presented at Cannes. Somehow this one day when you have the right moment, you will turn it into a feature film, or you can turn it into a book, or they will stay as a short film, as ever. The only thing is I will only show them when I think they are the right material to show at that point.”

Akira Kurosawa
“During the shooting of a scene the director’s eye has to catch even the minutest detail. But this does not mean glaring concentratedly at the set. While the cameras are rolling, I rarely look directly at the actors, but focus my gaze somewhere else. By doing this I sense instantly when something isn’t right. Watching something does not mean fixing your gaze on it, but being aware of it in a natural way. I believe this is what the medieval Noh playwright and theorist Zeami meant by ‘watching with a detached gaze.’”

04 francis for coppola

Francis Ford Coppola
“When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In The Godfather, it was succession. In The Conversation, it was privacy. In Apocalypse, it was morality. The reason it’s important to have this is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair? Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme is always helps you.“I remember in The Conversation, they brought all these coats to me, and they said: Do you want him to look like a detective, Humphrey Bogart? Do you want him to look like a blah blah blah. I didn’t know, and said the theme is ‘privacy’ and chose the plastic coat you could see through. So knowing the theme helps you make a decision when you’re not sure which way to go.”

06 sofia coppola

Sofia Coppola
“I try to just make what I want to make or what I would want to see. I try not to think about the audience too much.”

12 steven spielberg

Steven Spielberg
“Before I go off and direct a movie, I always look at four films. They tend to be The Seven Samurai, Lawrence Of Arabia, It’s A Wonderful Life and The Searchers.”

07 spike lee

Spike Lee
“Music is, for me, a great tool of a filmmaker, the same way cinematography, the acting, editing, post-production, the costumes are. You know, to help you tell a story. ”

08 kathryn bigelow

Kathryn Bigelow
“Character and emotionality don’t always have to be relegated to quieter, more simple constructs.”

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard
“A film should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order.”

11 alfred hitchcock

“The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture”

Martin Scorsese
“Always get to the set or the location early, so that you can be all alone and draw your inspiration for the blocking and the setups in private and quiet. In one sense, it’s about protecting yourself; in another sense, it’s about always being open to surprise, even from the set, because there may be some detail that you hadn’t noticed. I think this is crucial. There are many pictures that seem good in so many ways except one: They lack a sense of surprise, they’ve never left the page.”

Lana Wachowski
“Cinema is a social art form. You cannot make a piece of cinema by yourself. No matter what you do, no matter how controlling, no matter how crazy and Fitzcarraldo-bizarre or how crazy generally you try to be, yelling at people with your bullhorn, you can’t push a single pencil across the table without help. It’s just the way it is. The final product will always be a sum of all of the parts that are working on it. So if you want to understand cinema, you have to think about it as a social dynamic. And you have to investigate it and unpack it as a social project.”

14 stanley kubrick

Stanley Kubrick
“The director’s job is to know what emotional statement he wants a character to convey in his scene or his line, and to exercise taste and judgment in helping the actor give his best possible performance. By knowing the actor’s personality and gauging his strengths and weaknesses a director can help him to overcome specific problems and realize his potential. But I think this aspect of directing is generally overemphasized. The director’s taste and imagination play a much more crucial role in the making of a film. Is it meaningful? Is it believable? Is it interesting? Those are the questions that have to be answered several hundred times a day.”

15 david lynch

David Lynch
“I’m lucky, because I like all the different parts [of directing]. And they are all extremely important, because if one or two fall short, the whole thing falls apart. So you have to be involved in every part of the process, making choices that reinforce the whole idea which started the thing in the beginning. And you have to be very watchful — and open to fantastic new ideas. Once you see something right in front of you, like an actress with a certain dress walk into a certain light and say a certain word, you can almost pass out. You’ve got all the parts together, but now it’s really something different, and it goes to another place. . . . You can’t give priority to one over the other. You have to know the sound, the lighting, the placement of people, everything — and you keep on going until it is right or as right as you can get it. It talks to you, you know. You are always comparing what you see in front of you with the original idea, and you know when it’s right and when it’s not working. And sometimes you also have the happy feeling that it’s better than the original idea, because of other people’s input and having it all in front of you.”


16 wes anderson

Wes Anderson
“If somebody asks me about the themes of something I’m working on, I never have any idea what the themes are. . . . Somebody tells me the themes later. I sort of try to avoid developing themes. I want to just keep it a little bit more abstract. But then, what ends up happening is, they say, ‘Well, I see a lot here that you did before, and it’s connected to this other movie you did,’ and . . . that almost seems like something I don’t quite choose. It chooses me.”

17 ridley scott

Ridley Scott
“Audiences are less intrigued, honestly, by battle. They’re more intrigued by human relations. If you’re making a film about the trappings of the period, and you’re forgetting that human relationships are the most engaging part of the storytelling process, then you’re in trouble.”

18 quentin tarantino

Quentin Tarantino
“When I’m writing, it’s about the page. It’s not about the movie. It’s not about cinema. It’s about the literature of me putting my pen to paper and writing a good page and making it work completely as a document unto itself. That’s my first artistic contribution. If I do my job right, by the end of the script, I should be having the thought, ‘You know, if I were to just publish this now and not make it . . . ,’ I’m done.”

19 mary harron (1)

Mary Harron
“I don’t think there is any one route to directing…. Other than that I think you just have to think ‘By any means possible’ and take any job you can that will get you experience. I also did a lot for free. I got paid virtually nothing for my first film, but it changed my life.”

20 james cameron

James Cameron
“Don’t get seduced by your own stuff. Don’t get high on your own supply. The hardest thing as a filmmaker is when you’re watching a film that you’ve worked on for several years. You know every frame so intimately that holding lots of the objectivity of a new viewer who has just seen it for the first time is the hardest thing. Every aesthetic decision you make — and you make thousands of them every day, have to — in theory, must be done from you being a blank slate. You almost have to run a program, like a mind wipe, every time you watch the movie.”