Think of Something F@%&ed Up Every Day: John Waters on His Surprisingly Tame Creative Process

Credit: Terry Richardson
If I could go on my own Fantastic Voyage, I'd venture into the deepest, sickest, most twisted regions of director John Waters' brain.

Spending even a moment inside that thing would be the most wonderful and terrifying experience, but spending the day with him -- maybe not so much. Why? Because John Waters' day, quite frankly, seems kind of boring. (Okay, maybe better words would be organized or repetitive or routine.)

He lays out his creative process for MovieMaker Magazine, one that includes a very rigid schedule of reading 6 newspapers a day, crossing completed tasks off of his daily index card, and lots of tea drinking. However, as you'll see in the video below, Waters does one very important thing every single day that could help you on your own personal Fantastic Voyage inside your own brain.

Think of something f@%&ed up every day and write it down. That's tremendous advice from a filmmaker who is known for pushing the boundaries of cinema with films like Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living (also known as his "Trash Trilogy"). But, if you're like me and are already building your cinematic career upon a very dense and hearty foundation made up of the f@%&ed up things you think about every day, Waters also shared a bunch of pieces of advice for filmmakers in his Golden Rules of Moviemaking (also for MovieMaker) back in 2013. A few of my favorites are:

  • Never make a film about your grandmother unless she’s a serial killer.
  • The first draft of your script should never be read by anybody. What you call your “first draft” should be your third, fourth or even tenth pass.
  • If you can get an NC-17 rating without using any sex or violence, you’ll be called a genius.
  • When you try to sell your film with a treatment, always include a mock-up of an ad campaign so you look like you’re thinking like a money person.
  • No matter what you’ve heard, contention on the set does not lead to creativity.

Serial killer grandmas -- now that's more like it, John Waters!     

Your Comment

1 Comment

Some interesting advice from an unexpected source. My favourite is 'never make a film about your grandmother unless she's a serial killer'.

October 12, 2016 at 12:12AM

You voted '+1'.
David Klompas
Intern Journalist