Watch: Advice for Filmmakers from the Greatest Directors of All Time
Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro, Orson Welles, and more master filmmakers share advice on breaking into filmmaking.
As conventional wisdom goes, you should take any piece of advice with a grain of salt—unless, of course, it's coming from Quentin Tarantino, Federico Fellini, Paul Thomas Anderson, or one of the other 12 masters of cinema featured in the below supercut.
Gabriel Antunes' supercut compiles some wise words on breaking into filmmaking from some of the most accomplished auteurs in history. Though every director came up in his own way—Tarantino as a video store clerk, Wes Anderson as a projectionist, and Werner Herzog, true to brand, stole a camera from the Munich Film School—all of them agree on some basic principles.
The overarching piece of advice? "Don't give a fuck," in the words of Paul Thomas Anderson. "Know you're not wrong. You can get filled with such fear. It's really easy to get your heart broken when you're attempting to make films."
Nearly every director emphasized self-reliance, conviction, and dynamo as important characteristics for breaking into the industry. Tarantino even suggests skipping film school. "You don't have to know how to make a movie," Tarantino says. "If you truly love cinema, with all your heart, and with enough passion, you can't help but make a good movie. You don't have to go to school. You don't have to know about lenses. Fuck all that shit."
"I wish I was starting now," says John Carpenter. "You have cheap technology to make movies with. Make a movie. Keep making them. There's no other way in the movie business."
"Roll up your sleeves," says Herzog. "Work as a bouncer at a sex club, as a warden in a lunatic asylum. Make a feature film with that $10,000. Be ready to break the rules, to pick a safety lock, to forge a document. A film like Fitzcarraldo would never have been possible without massive forgery."
"You're not going to be a director until you put your eye into that [view]finder," says Sidney Lumet. "At the beginning, there's no such thing as good work or bad work."
"Don't pay attention to the industry," insists Scorsese. "Do your own thing. Make your own industry. Break open the form!"
"If you want to be a director, be a director," states Guillermo del Toro. "You can direct with your sister's cousin's video camera. Right now, except in the most abject circumstances, most people can get ahold of an image-audio machine. Directing doesn't mean directing feature films anymore. Fail on your own terms."
But in order to be a self-starter, many directors echoed Herzog's sentiment: "If you don't read, you will never make a great film."
"Study philosophy and history," suggests Terry Gilliam. "And get a job as a plumber, because there's always a shortage of plumbers. Just in case!"
Below are the directors that appear in the video:
- Quentin Tarantino: 00:00
- Jerry Lewis: 00:40
- Terry Gilliam: 01:15
- John Carpenter: 01:40
- Paul Thomas Anderson: 02:30
- Francis Ford Coppola: 03:54
- Federico Fellini: 04:52
- Werner Herzog: 05:56
- Wes Anderson: 07:22
- Sidney Lumet: 07:50
- John Landis: 08:58
- Martin Scorsese: 10:15
- Guillermo del Toro: 11:38
- Orson Welles: 14:55