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Tips & Advice from 14 Renowned Filmmakers

Making a movie is an art form. Whether it’s been you’re life-long dream or a newfound passion, creating your very own film and seeing it through to the end is incredibly rewarding. You’ll need continuous sources of inspiration and a ton of support to make it happen.

Sometimes, watching movies isn’t enough. It’s great to hear words of advice or tips from movie directors themselves. So today, that’s what we’re going to share with you.

Below are words of advice from famous filmmakers. Whichever genre you’re into, you’ll definitely pick up something from these brilliant movie maestros.

  1. Lana Wachowski (The Matrix)

“Cinema is a social art form. You cannot make a piece of cinema by yourself. No matter what you do, no matter how controlling, no matter how crazy and Fitzcarraldo-bizarre or how crazy generally you try to be, yelling at people with your bullhorn, you can’t push a single pencil across the table without help. It’s just the way it is. The final product will always be a sum of all of the parts that are working on it. So if you want to understand cinema, you have to think about it as a social dynamic. And you have to investigate it and unpack it as a social project.”

  1. Spike Lee (Malcolm X)

“Music is, for me, a great tool of a filmmaker, the same way cinematography, the acting, editing, post-production, the costumes are. You know, to help you tell a story.”

  1. Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather)

“When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In The Godfather, it was succession. In The Conversation, it was privacy. In Apocalypse, it was morality. The reason it’s important to have this is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair? Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme is always helps you.


  1. Susan Seidelman (Room 666)

“Casting is 50% of your task. If you cast well, you’re halfway through.”

  1. Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai)

“During the shooting of a scene the director’s eye has to catch even the minutest detail. But this does not mean glaring concentratedly at the set. While the cameras are rolling, I rarely look directly at the actors, but focus my gaze somewhere else. By doing this I sense instantly when something isn’t right.

  1. Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides)

“I try to just make what I want to make or what I would want to see. I try not to think about the audience too much.”

  1. Kevin Smith (Dogma)

“Whenever I’m not shooting, I’m in the editing room with my footage. While the crew is taking 15 minutes to an hour to set up the next shot, I’m behind the Avid, putting the flick together.”

  1. Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally)

“Structure is the key to narrative. These are the crucial questions any storyteller must answer: Where does it begin? Where does the beginning start to end and the middle begin? Where does the middle start to end and the end begin? . . . All the regular questions that face writers also face us. Where does the story begin, where is the middle, and where is the end? Each of those things is entirely up to the writer.”

  1. Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)

“If somebody asks me about the themes of something I’m working on, I never have any idea what the themes are. . . . Somebody tells me the themes later. I sort of try to avoid developing themes. I want to just keep it a little bit more abstract. But then, what ends up happening is, they say, ‘Well, I see a lot here that you did before, and it’s connected to this other movie you did,’ and . . . that almost seems like something I don’t quite choose. It chooses me.”

  1. Andrea Arnold (Milk)

“When your characters are really living they tell you what they do.”

  1. Park Chan-Wook (The Handmaiden)

“If you would ask me what my ideal process is, I would say, long pre-production, long production and long post-production.”

  1. Ida Lupino (The Hitch Hiker)

“Instead of saying ‘Do this,’ I tried to make everybody a part of it. Often I pretended to a cameraman to know less than I did. That way I got more cooperation.”

  1. David Lynch (Mulholland Drive)

“You have to be involved in every part of the process, making choices that reinforce the whole idea which started the thing in the beginning. And you have to be very watchful — and open to fantastic new ideas.”

  1. Jane Campion (The Portrait of a Lady)

“Performers are so vulnerable. They’re frightened of humiliation, sure their work will be crap. I try to make an environment where it’s warm, where it’s OK to fail — a kind of home, I suppose.”