20 More Filmmaking Tips from Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino on the set of 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'Credit: Sony
There are lots of lessons we can take from Tarantino's filmmaking career. 

I have this fantasy that when Quentin Tarantino retires from directing, he will use some of his free time to become a film professor. But I'm not sure that has any likelihood of happening, so I guess I'll have to settle for these compilation videos where people assemble all the advice Tarantino's ever given about filmmaking. 

Check out this video from Outstanding Screenplays, and let's talk after the break. 

20 More Filmmaking Tips from Quentin Tarantino

1. Be a conductor of the audience’s emotions.

You're the maestro of your story. You're adding elements and direction to get the audience to feel a certain way. Know your power and use it.

Start by learning how to write a screenplay

2. Write your screenplay for the reader.

Your only goal should be that the reader never puts the script down. Use your voice to entertain and clarify the story for them. 

3. The only responsibility you have is to be true to your characters.

What do your characters want? What's their goal? Never let them act outside it or take detours that confuse us.

Be true to them and their wants and desires. 

4. As a writer/director, it’s your job to have a vision.

Don't be lukewarm about this. Have a way you want to show things and a set of intended consequences for what happens on screen. 

5. Make it personal enough so you feel embarrassed to share it.

You need to write from a place of understanding and reality. Your reality. And an understanding of yourself.

What do you have to say? Why now

6. If you truly love cinema, you can’t make a bad movie.

Not all your ideas work out the way you want, but if you really love the process, all you can do is learn from it and move on. 

7. Have fun with your writing.

It's so hard to think about the fun when your paycheck and big break seem like they depend on it. But have fun.

Write stories you like to be steeped in, ones that make it a blast to hit the keys. 

8. It’s about the character first.

Your characters need to pop off the page and attract actors. They also need to make the audience interested in knowing what happens next. 

9. Read your script out loud to your friends.

We often skip this step, but reading aloud allows you to hone the pacing and story. It can affect word choice and what to cut as well.

Do a table read

10. Carefully craft your character, then let them lead you.

This meshes with other advice on here, but once you know your character, follow where they go. Let their impulses be a guide as to where the scene needs to flow. 

11. A story is something that constantly unfolds.

You never stop giving the audience an experience or pertinent information. You have to let the story unravel until it reaches the end, always getting through hurdles. 

12. Treat suspense like a rubber band. The longer it can stretch, the more suspenseful it is.

The audience will always be waiting for the snap, keeping them wondering where it comes by really pulling at the seams of people, scenes, and tension

13. Give your characters moral choices to make and consequences based on their decisions.

You cannot have a movie where the characters live in a village of happy people. Challenge them by forcing them to act, and then you get meaty scenes where they have to deal with things in real-time. 

14. Develop your own writing process so it's enjoyable for you.

Find your time to write. Don't just take other people's advice. When will the story come to you? What work can you put in that leads it there? Do whatever it takes to get the ideas to flow.

Write what makes you happy

15. Put clues to certain backstories and let each audience member decide what it means for them.

Don't spoon-feed the audience. Let them work and get invested in what's going on. Let them press hard for answers to their own questions. 

16. Make your script work as a piece of art on its own.

Your script needs to tell a great story but also just pop off the page. Have a voice that's so undeniable that producers and directors want to hire you to work on other things. 

17. Make your own movies—that is your film school.

Make things. You don't need film school. (Welcome to No Film School.)

We dedicated this entire site to trying to get filmmakers to share lessons for free. Now learn and make your own things. Make mistakes and make movies. They can help set your career in the right direction. 

18. Rule out morality to have interesting characters.

Stop thinking about what righteous people would do and start just thinking about people. Who are they? What do they want? Let good and bad intentions rule the day. Get into their headspace

19. The only way to get successful is by making a kick-ass movie.

If you want to be a filmmaker, go make films. They won't all be perfect, but the ones that kick ass will find fans who can hire you. 

20. Retire at the top of your game.

We would love if Tarantino never retired, but if he does, we hope he keeps teaching others. And we hope you teach and mentor as much as you can as well.      

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2 Comments

It seems some good working tips for every aspiring individuals. What I pick out from the list is "Retire at the top of your game". We have seen many legends fail at the later stages of their career and then we think he could have retired a bit earlier. But the sad fact is that when we are going high with things, it's hard to end the journey all of a sudden.

November 20, 2021 at 12:07AM

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Mary Jain
Photography Enthusiast
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Nice!

November 21, 2021 at 9:23AM

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Tony Cuellar
Video Producer & Director
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