How did you learn about filmmaking when you were just getting started? And what title inspired you to become a filmmaker? For me, it was the special edition DVD of Taxi Driver that came with a full commentary track and booklet. I got it when I was a freshman in college.
Before then, I was into movies. I had seen a lot. But I had no idea how they were made or really anyone outside of the directors behind them. That DVD introduced me to Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, and the deeper meaning behind cinema.
Listening to them talk about their favorite movies and inspirations opened a whole world up to me. It made me want to be a part of that world.
As a writer for No Film School, I frequently get to look into lists of your favorite filmmakers' favorite movies. And last week, over Thanksgiving break, I got to read one of my favorite filmmakers' books about some of the movies that made him who he is today.
I'm talking about Quentin Tarantino's Cinema Speculation. A book I highly enjoyed.
It basically tells the story of him growing up loving movies. He went to the movies a lot in the 1970s, and the book is a collection of essays organized around key American films from that decade, which Tarantino saw as a kid. He also says that it was inspired by the film writing of critic Pauline Kael.
Tarantino talks about hundreds of movies in the book, but each chapter is devoted to a movie that holds a special place in his heart.
Cinema Speculation Chapters:
- The Outfit
- Dirty Harry
- The Getaway
- Daisy Miller
- Taxi Driver
- Rolling Thunder
- Paradise Alley
- The Funhouse
This personal journey in this book was inspiring and enthralling. While there are a ton of hot takes inside it, it takes us deeper into understanding Tarantino, and thus leaves us with a new way to relate to his films and his process.
And I wish way more directors did this!
Tarantino's Cinema Speculation Is An Endeavor I Wish More Filmmakers Would Undertake
Taking the time to write a book about what movies mean to them and why they care about movies is something I think every filmmaker would benefit from. That's not a bit. I truly think knowing what inspired you, and facing it down, is essential to growth. We've seen so many filmmakers eager to confront their past in movies.
But how many are willing to sit and reflect in book form?
This book really forced Tarantino to come to terms with his youth, how he feels about movie stars, his relationship with adults, and how much he respects other artists, and even probably has helped him plan what his last film will be.
When I watch a lot of modern movies, I see a lot of successful directors who go through this listless period in their work. They're making movies for studios or movies that feel like they lack the focus or heart that used to drive their earlier works.
Reflecting on the past and going back to what inspired you is a great way to refocus. To figure out why you came to tell stories and why you became a filmmaker.
This reflection in book form could also help inspire the next generation of people. Especially if you looked critically at some of the movies that made you and picked apart a driving force for whatever you planned on making next.
But that's just my two cents.
Let me know what you think in the comments.