We compiled an inspiring, rare collection of filmmaking lessons and tricks for any beginner or seasoned director.
From Martin Scorsese’s to Judd Apatow’s, these quotes show a vivid world of style, technique and temperament, personal to each creative’s artistic expression.
1. “There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness” Frank Capra.
2. “Over-length is one of the things that most often results in the destruction of the movie in the cutting room.” Sidney Lumet
3. “Character and emotionality don’t always have to be relegated to quieter, more simple constructs.” Kathryn Bigelow
4. “I feel like everybody’s waiting for a job y’know, you can make a movie on your phone. And so there really is no reason to worry about how to get in with people— and you can do that, there’s a lot to learn working for people —but you can just make a movie, where in the old days that was completely impossible.” Judd Apatow
5. “The whole thing about making films in an organic film on location is that it’s not all about characters, relationships and themes, it’s also about place and the poetry of place. It’s about the spirit of what you find, the accidents of what you stumble across.” Mike Leigh
6. “Always get to the set or the location early, so that you can be all alone and draw your inspiration for the blocking and the setups in private and quiet.” Martin Scorsese
7. “Don’t forget that costumes, like dreams, are symbolic communication. Dreams teach us that a language for everything exists — for every object, every color worn, every clothing detail. Hence, costumes provide an aesthetic objectification that helps to tell the character’s story.” Federico Fellini
8. “Never try to convey your idea to the audience — it is a thankless and senseless task. Show them life, and they’ll find within themselves the means to assess and appreciate it.” Andrei Tarkovsky
9. “If I can play a scene in a master shot, I always prefer it. And the actors always prefer it. It’s fun to look at on the screen, the actors get a chance to sink their teeth into something substantial, and it’s economically helpful.” Woody Allen
10. “The director’s job is to know what emotional statement he wants a character to convey in his scene or his line, and to exercise taste and judgment in helping the actor give his best possible performance.” Stanley Kubrick
11. “When I’m actually assembling a scene, I assemble it as a silent movie. Even if it’s a dialog scene, I lip read what people are saying.” Walter Murch
12. “Don’t let the difficulty of actually achieving a shot make you think that the shot is good.” Sidney Lumet
13. “I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets. There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact, this is what I like to do. It’s sort of like my handwriting as a movie director. And somewhere along the way, I think I’ve made the decision: I’m going to write in my own handwriting.” Wes Anderson
14. “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.” Sofia Coppola
15. “Style is what unites memory or recollection, ideology, sentiment, nostalgia, presentiment, to the way we express all that. It’s not what we say but how we say it that matters.” Federico Fellini
16. “When a sound can replace an image, cut the image or neutralize it. The ear goes more towards the within, the eye towards the outer.” Robert Bresson
17. “I have the confidence that I can take anybody and have them give a good performance, because I don’t think there’s anything to acting except expressing, being able to converse. So if I can just convince somebody not to clean themselves up, and not to be someone that they’re not, and just be what they are in given circumstances, that’s all that acting is to me, and I don’t think it’s very difficult.” John Cassavetes
18. “short films are not inferior, just different. I think the short gives a freedom to film-makers. What’s appealing is that you don’t have as much responsibility for storytelling and plot. They can be more like a portrait, or a poem.” Jane Campion
19. “That’s the kind of movie that I like to make, where there is an invented reality and the audience is going to go someplace where hopefully they’ve never been before. The details, that’s what the world is made of.” Wes Anderson
20. “When you make the film, there’s a big difference between when you’re in your own home at the typewriter, and when you’re standing on a mountain, or on a street corner, and buses are coming by—it’s a different reality. You make a million changes that were never in the script, but that reality dictates.” Woody Allen