The Quentin Tarantino Approach to Becoming a Successful Filmmaker

You've got the passion. You've got the drive. You've got the desire to be a great filmmaker, but you don't really know exactly what it takes to be one. If only there was a list of some sort that you could reference!

Well, the internet has opened up a treasure trove of excellent advice from history's best filmmakers, but if you prefer a list of the bullet point variety with pieces of wisdom from a director who helped bring indie film into the mainstream, this video from Evan Carmichael sources a bunch of interviews Quentin Tarantino has given throughout the years to give you just that.

The bullet points listed in the video can be a little vague, so I've reworded them with filmmakers in mind:

  • Surround yourself with great filmmakers
  • If you make a kick-ass movie, people will notice
  • Make films that you'd pay to see
  • Grandiose your way out of fear
  • #1 skill as a director: Being able to explain your vision
  • Just keep making films, even if they're terrible (making terrible films is great film school)
  • Find the right balance between listening to other people's ideas and bringing your vision to life
  • Keep reinventing yourself and your art
  • Find your creative process
  • Always try to find ways to engage your audience emotionally in your film

All of these points can help any artist better him/herself, but Tarantino makes such a great analogy when he compares becoming a better filmmaker to running a 100-yard dash. He says:

If you run the 100-yard dash with people that can't run as fast as you, yeah, you'll win hands down. You know that. But if you run with people much faster than you, yeah, you might come in last every single time, but your time will be better.

It's difficult to get better at a craft if you don't have masters and professionals to challenge the way you're doing it. If you're lucky enough to have a thriving filmmaking community where you live, connect with filmmakers that are better at it than you. If you don't, watch the films of filmmakers that inspire you and learn everything you can about how they approach(ed) their films. (You should probably do this anyway.) 

We all have that dream in our heads to be the best and we get discouraged when we feel like, yeah, we're in last place. But take that as a call to push yourself to your creative limits, to continue to grow and change as a filmmaker.      

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16 Comments

Awesome, thanks for these points NFS!

April 10, 2016 at 1:30AM

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Thanks for sharing this. Inspirational

April 10, 2016 at 3:13AM, Edited April 10, 3:13AM

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Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
794

Tarantino will always be in my TOP10 directors! He is such a great person. I am waiting for more movies!

April 10, 2016 at 7:17AM

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This post left out the part where he became successful by ripping off the Hong Kong film industry for ideas to get his start.

I guess that comes from working in a video store.

April 10, 2016 at 9:02AM

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Two responses:

a) Sounds so easy. So why didn't you rip the "Hong Kong film industry for ideas" (or any untapped industry) to get YOUR start? Why didn't 10,000 other aspiring directors at the time?

b) Tarantino never said he doesn't get what he likes from other directors. If anything he made it absolutely clear that he's a great cinephile, and that he gets inspirations from several kinds of genre movies, to the point of having his characters reference old movies by name, or hiring actors that played originally in those movies, and of course, waxing lyrically in his interviews about their directors.

He did copy parts from Hong Kong movies (e.g. City of Fire) but it was the less relevant to being a director parts -- the plot. The cinematography and direction etc is totally different.

April 10, 2016 at 2:18PM

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Good artists copy, great artists steal...Watched the interviews with Francis Ford Coppola on the Godfather collection bluray and he reiterated that same sentiment. Also sounds like you have a superiority complex because you never had to work in a video store and you probably could afford to go to film school. Lucky you.

April 11, 2016 at 10:14AM

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Kerrin McLean
Director / DP / Editor
251

Hes a hack thats only contribution was putting surf music to other peoples ideas. He was good as self promotion and had a surname that was catchy in an industry that gets off on that stuff.

As for film school why would anyone... and no, when I was young I couldn't afford it.

April 12, 2016 at 10:18PM

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I agree that Tarantino is a distinctive director, who injected enough of his personal flavour in his films, and also acknowledge the fact that filmmaking is by large driven by tradition, and is perhaps the most collaborative form of art, therefore naturally being less original and pure than many other arts -- however, when it comes to this horrible, overused quote of "good artists copy, great artists steal", I absolutely disagree, this is a poor excuse for visionless people and completely contradicts what the artist is about, which is transforming their own experience of living into some kind of expression.. Which is of course inspired and/or influenced by other people, including artists, but is much more complex than just copying and stealing (latter even implying to take credit for someone's else work).

We should put stop to mindless repetition of this bullshit, like if the mere fact that subjectively great artist once upon the time said it makes it the universal truth and justifies template-labouring and plagiarism.

April 14, 2016 at 1:00PM

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zetty
Filmmaker
853

Nothing is original anymore. Creative content is based on an innate knowledge of life experiences. Pretty much anything you create is going to be influenced by something that has come before. It's gonna be either subconsciously influenced or blatantly inspired by things you have experienced. Tarantino is a master at recognizing art for what it is and putting his own creative spin on it. He has never directly copied other peoples work, but has allowed it to influence his style and creative vision. That makes him successful...not a hack...in my opinion.

May 8, 2016 at 1:58PM, Edited May 8, 2:02PM

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Alan
74

He also "copied" tens of italian movies. Actually, more italian movies than Hong Kong movies. In his films you can find ideas, concepts, or even whole scenes "copied" from italian cinema. This doesn't subtract a thing from his GENIUS. Since the dawn of time, in any art form, artists did that. if you get inspiration from another artist's work but you manage to renew the whole thing and make it yours, it's not a "copy". It is a copy when it's done by someone with no talent and not enough creative thrust.

April 11, 2016 at 1:06PM

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David R. Falzarano
Director / Writer / Editor
1466

Great pointers, thanks for the article

April 10, 2016 at 10:28AM

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B.D. Sharples
Cinematographer and Director
236

Real awesome post. Love the bonus clips at the end...we all know we are doing this for tax writeoffs ;)

April 10, 2016 at 2:07PM

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Christopher Evans
Video Artist
496

This was a nice read and watch. So many of these are even applicable to my adventures that deviate from the film industry.

April 10, 2016 at 5:12PM

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Ian Park
Documentary Editor / Director
397

Tarantino has a handful of fans... But honestly, he doesn't deserve this kind of veneration. Over the top violence and a string of offensive racial terms has gotten really stale. When is this guy going to make a film that surprises, inspires and emotionally moves an audience to change for the better, instead of just assaulting their conscience with 70mm excremental sickness on celluloid?

April 11, 2016 at 8:02AM

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Jeffrey Norman
Director / Editor
137

Is it a director's (or a film's) duty to inspire people to be better though? Every artist ( painter, composer, poet, writer, director) has their own motivations and inspirations when they create, and I dont agree that they should be required to consider social responsibility to create happy, feel-good art...More than a handful of people find his films entertaining. I personally don't love everything he does, but he is talented and he is successful. As such, it makes him a source of inspiration; what he has to offer is valid to a community of people inspiring to achieve even a fraction of what he has, whether you're a fan of his work or not.

April 11, 2016 at 10:10AM

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Kerrin McLean
Director / DP / Editor
251

April 12, 2016 at 1:41AM

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entrar
79