Advice from Director William Friedkin: 'Leave Film School' & Study Alfred Hitchcock
Oscar-winner William Friedkin, director of The French Connection and the greatest scary movie to ever grace the cinematic world (um -- in my opinion), The Exorcist, has quite the reputation in the industry. Friedkin has gone to great, often shocking lengths to capture his vision, including straight up slapping actors across the chops to get a favorable reaction. And though his latest work hasn't managed to reach the acclaim of his early films, he is still considered to be one of New Hollywood's big contributors. In this 2012 Fade In Magazine interview, the director draws from his over 50 years of experience in film to share his thoughts on the current state of cinema, as well as the films that influenced him the most.
First of all, Friedkin admits that he doesn't watch very many contemporary films, saying that the number of new films he'd view dropped off somewhere around Alien and Blade Runner. (Yikes!) However, he does list a plethora of classic films that were inspirational to him as he started on his own filmmaking journey, even noting that Citizen Kane was the film that made him want to become a filmmaker. He names work from directors like Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Alfred Hitchcock as some of his favorite influential films -- he even goes so far as to say that aspiring filmmakers should quit film school and study Hitchcock's work in order to learn everything they need to know about filmmaking.)
In fact, Friedkin dedicates a significant amount of time to talking about how Hitchcock's body of work is all a fledgling filmmaker needs to learn everything they need to know about the craft, highlighting not only his expert timing and pacing (of course), but his technique. He lists Vertigo, North By Northwest, and Psycho as some of his favorites. (He also adds that Psycho is the scariest film he's ever seen -- coming from the director of The Exorcist, that's saying a lot!)
Near the end of the interview, the director talks about the current state of cinema -- making an interesting point about how filmmakers today have access to technology that can make whatever crazy things are in their imagination come to life on-screen, but fail, in his opinion, to offer much truth about the human condition, human experience, or culture in which we live.
What are your thoughts on Friedkin's favorite films? What do you make of his observation about the state of current cinema? Let us know in the comments.
[via Fade In Magazine]