Steven Spielberg may dream for a living, but the life of a director is certainly no dream. Consistent rejection and limited affirmation is one of the topics touched on by almost every famous director to make the spotlight. That, and the powerful drug of cinema.
The passion behind every filmmaker’s decision to abandon the degree in medicine and pursue one of life’s most difficult, but ultimately most fulfilling paths…that of the film director.
If you are an aspiring filmmaker seeking advice, inspiration or motivation of any kind, then you have come to the right place. Compiled here is a list of the top ten director interviews of all time in no specific order because they’re all amazing.
Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Whisper’ speech.
In this speech Spielberg details how, he developed his love of film as a child (it involves crashing trains, don’t take my word for it, watch it) which is an entertaining journey in itself. However, the precipice of this speech is his words towards the end. Spielberg talks about the rarely touched upon ‘whisper’ every filmmaker has in the back of their head, as well as the intuition, instinct and fear that goes along with following it. If you are ever in a moment of creative doubt — watch this and it will set you in the right direction.
Quentin Tarantino’s BEST EVER interview (according to the internet)
At the Santa Barbara Film Festival in 2013, Tarantino talked about every movie he’d ever made and delved into the creative process behind each one. Often cited around the internet as one of the greatest interviews to exist. Tarantino really gets the chance to explore the reasons behind his unique creative process. It’s quite a long interview, but if you’re a die-hard Quentin Tarantino fan then this really is the one for you.
Ava DuVernay on how she broke into the film industry at age 32
Documentary maker Ava DuVernay revisits the trials and tribulations she faced, as a 32-year-old black woman, breaking into an industry that is predominantly ‘made by white men for white men’. Her recklessness and resilience will inspire you to take the risk and pursue filmmaking, even in the face of adversity. This interview is part of the New Yorker Festival series which has some other brilliant interviews with likeminded creators – worth checking out.
Guillermo De Toro ‘Anyone Can Be A Director’
In this short three-minute interview, Guillermo De Toro speaks plainly about what it takes to
become a director (spoiler alert: not that much). As he bluntly puts it “if you want to direct, direct…”. He then goes on to address the all too common fear of failure, and explains how failure can actually be seen as a type of success. “If you do it wrong, but you’re doing it in your own terms, then that’s how I define success. Failing in your own terms.”
Greta Gerwig on ‘Learning to Direct’.
In this interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Greta Gerwig recalls how she first entered the world of cinema. She refers to the difficulties she faced as a woman, entering into a discussion about female ambition and sheds some light on her signature ‘naturalistic’ style. She also touches on the rarely mentioned topic of rejection, and how to turn unexpected misfortune into something more fruitful. “When problems came up or something went awry, that was not a deviation from the path…that was the path.” Sound advice.
Wes Anderson ‘Director’s Chair’
In this Director’s Chair interview Wes Anderson addresses his unique style of filmmaking. Often labelled quirky or strange Anderson sites the real world as his inspiration using real people in his life to create his unique characters. His advice to aspiring directors reflects his own journey; to draw from what you know, to create a world for your characters to inhabit and to “just go shoot”. His message: that passion is the key to a good film, should resonate with all filmmaking hopefuls.
Sofia Coppola on Constancy, Criticism and Class.
In this interview with historian Annette Insdorf, Sofia Coppola delves into her free-style approach towards filming: praising the importance of improvisation and method acting. She also enters into a fascinating discussion surrounding criticism she often receives for her work being too ‘white-washed and privileged.’ In this debate she refers to her childhood and what it was like growing up in a family equivalent to cinema royalty – perfect for any Francis Ford Coppola fans.
(P.S. if you fancy having your heart-warmed then listen to the interview between Francis Ford Coppola and Sofia age 5. I can’t say it’s the most informative of interviews… but it’s really damn cute.) https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1721966
Christopher Nolan ‘Desert Island Discs’
In this Desert Island Discs interview, Christopher Nolan gives a rare glimpse into his creative process. In doing so he breaks away from keeping himself out of his films and reveals the man behind the movie magic. He stresses the value of remaining outside “the Hollywood bubble” and the importance of working with people you know and trust. His motivation is the challenge of delivering the audience “a fresh experience”. This is a must listen for those who have experienced the layered mystery of Nolan’s work and want an insight into a legend of modern cinema.
Ridley Scott on Cinematography
Ridley Scott takes a stance completely opposite to Sofia’s free-style as he outlines his meticulous storyboards and ways of maximising time productivity. This is a good interview for those interested in cinematography as Scott pledges the importance of visual narratives as well as the inordinate trust and commune between director, actor and camera man.
George Lucas on Directing and Life Time Happiness
In this speech, George Lucas reflects on his path into filmmaking whilst discussing the pros and cons of going to film school. If you’re looking for some profound advice then this is the interview you should click on. Lucas goes beyond directing and examines the true meaning of happiness and how to prolong the experience of it. A brilliant speech if you fancy getting philosophical with George Lucas. (Also have a look at Lucas’s discussion with Christopher Nolan – once again it goes on a bit, but what could be better than spending an evening with the men who bought you Star Wars and Batman.)
If that list hasn’t quenched your thirst for filmmaking advice and talent, then have a look at the interview with one of ARGO’s short film creators: Aqsa Altaf. You will not regret. it Or have a look at any of these channels for more interviews and advice on directing!
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