22 Greats share their filmmaking tips!
We all want to get out there and get filming. It’s only natural that someone as creative as you wants to go out into the wild and start shooting your new masterpiece and while we absolutely think you should do that, occasionally you should listen to what others have to say about filmmaking. Especially when those people have been there and done it themselves and have all the filmmaking tips and tricks you could ever need.
There are so many amazing directors out there that it’s always hard to filter down which directors and clips we should share. We’ve recently updated this list to include even more awesome female directors that have some brilliant tips and insights for all upcoming filmmakers. Each one of these videos will give you a glimpse into the journey they have made as filmmakers and we urge you to listen to their wise words. So grab a cup of tea and sit back to watch these great directors share their secrets.
When it comes to talking about directing, it won’t be long until you’ll be talking about Ava Duvernay. The American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor won the Best Director Prize for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Duvernay has since gone onto to win and to be nominated for countless awards. Including being the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award For Selma (2014). During the Tribeca Film Festival, Ava DuVernay visited the SVA Theatre for a special Tribeca Talks to discuss careers, filmmaking and life.
Whether you are on the road to becoming a successful writer, director or an all round filmmaker, Spike Lee has some simple advice…write! with both of those disciplines, you need to write. Spike Lee has been a professor at NYU for the past 15 years teaching film, so he know’s how to give some great advice. Well, that and the fact that Spike Lee has created some great films over the past 30+ years means you should probably listen to what he has to say.
After two decades of successful screenwriting and producing – films including Private Benjamin (1980), Baby Boom (1987) and box office hits Father of the Bride I and II (1991 and 1995) – Nancy made an her debut as a director with the an update of the Disney classic The Parent Trap (1998) starring Dennis Quaid and Lindsay Lohan, which she also co-wrote. The writer, director and producer of The Parent Trap, Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated discusses creating characters, producing and directing her own work and shares advice for new writers.
Guillermo Arriaga isn’t a name that commonly comes up when we talk about Directors, but he absolutely deserves a place on this list. He is responsible for some great films like Babel, 21 Grams, The Burning Man and more. In this video (which is an oldie) he talks about leading with the characters and story. The best thing a director or any filmmaker can do, is prep as much as possible and then prep some more.
Best known for her romantic comedy films, Nora Ephron was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Writing for Silkwood (1983), When Harry Met Sally… (1989), and Sleepless in Seattle (1993). She won a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay for When Harry Met Sally too. So if you’re starting out writing your screenplay, there are few directors better placed to give you advice on how to succeed. In the following video, Ephron talks about her books, movies, and future.
Wes Anderson started out making a short film, before moving onto bigger and better things like The Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr Fox. In this short video, the director answers BAFTA’s three big questions. How did you get started in the industry? Which film/TV show/video game has most influenced you? What advice would you give to someone starting out? I don’t know about you, but I prefer the three big questions Rick Grimes asks on The Walking Dead.
Vicky Jenson is a director of both live-action and animated films. Most notably, she has directed projects for DreamWorks Animation including Shrek, which was the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. So not only is Jenson one of Hollywood’s most inspiring directors but she also directed the film that gave rise to one of Hollywood’s largest film franchises. In this video, Jenson discusses her beginnings as a storyteller, and how hard work and dedication led her to a fruitful career in filmmaking.
Ron Howard started out as an actor, on Happy Days, ehhhh. There are many ways into the film industry and I’m sure every story will be different. Ron talks about how his journey gave him a unique perspective on filmmaking and how he took what he learnt and applied it to a different art form. Ron Howard shares his directing tips, describing how acting is “a really great training ground” and “that taste and judgement is what it’s all about”.
Has anyone heard of a little film called Frozen? Of course you have, it was a phenomenal success. In fact, it is the second highest-grossing animated film in history. American screenwriter and film director Jennifer Lee is of course best known as the writer and director of Frozen, for which she earned an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. She also co-wrote Wreck-It Ralph (2012), and was credited for story contributions to Zootopia (2016). Lee is also the first female director of a feature film that earned more than $1 billion in gross box office revenue. Director Jennifer Lee sat down with Norah O’Donnell to discuss women in film.
“Remember to always be yourself, unless you suck.” Straight to the point there, Mr. Whedon. Joss Whedon has become one of the more recognisable names over the past couple of decades. Boasting a huge catalogue of film and TV including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Serenity, The Avengers and many, many more titles. Whedon talks about how writing became his “favourite thing ever”, and his journey from working on a Friday in a video store to the following Monday as a staff writer.
Pioneering director Amy Heckerling, first made a name for herself by directing the iconic teen comedy Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Heckerling talks at length about the tricky business of being an iconoclast filmmaker and redefining youth movies time and again. In this video, Heckerling discusses her movies and whether or not her being a woman has impacted her work and the way it’s been received.
Director Sam Mendes discusses his journey into the filmmaking world and shares some filmmaking tips. He talks about which films have influenced him and the differences between directing film and theatre. Same Mendes has directed a lot of films over the years, including Road to Perdition, American Beauty and more recently a couple of Bond films, Skyfall and Spectre. Not too bad at all.
After acquiring numerous professional choreography credits, Anne Fletcher started to move her career towards directing. Fletcher went on to direct the 2006 romantic dance film, Step Up. The film was nominated for two Teen Choice Awards (2007) and one Young Artist Award (2007). Fletcher then went on to direct the popular 2008 romantic comedy film, 27 Dresses, earning her multiple nominations. This Q&A is from the Cinemas Palme D’Or in Palm Desert, California on May 9, 2015.
If I was going to make a list about who I’d like to talk to about their filmmaking tips, Martin Scorsese would be close to the top of that list (behind Nic Cage, of course). The director of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Hugo talks to BAFTA about how he got started in the industry, Which film/TV show/video game has he been most influenced by and what advice would you give to someone starting out?
Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the director of Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2 is one of the most successful Asian Americans in the entertainment industry. She was also the first female to direct a full feature length animated movie with huge success. She started out as a storyboard artist, winning an Annie Award for Best Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production for directing the opening for Kung Fu Panda. As you can imagine, she has some great advice to share in this video.
Quentin who? You might ask yourself. Well, he’s a little known director making these small films that don’t normally have a huge box office. He’s responsible for Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, The Hateful 8, Inglorious Basterds and the list goes on. Clearly, Tarantino is an uber successful filmmaker but even he had to start out somewhere, so in this video he talks to indie filmmakers at Comic-Con and offers advice to young filmmakers.
Love it or hate it, there is no denying than Twilight was a huge success. The trilogy was one of the highest grossing trilogies of all time and has been the catalyst for a plethora of teen movies and TV shows. In this clip, Catherine Hardwicke talks about being taken seriously in Hollywood. The full interview can be found on the TIFF soundcloud and it’s well worth a listen. Hardwicke is an American film director, production designer and screenwriter. Her directorial work includes Thirteen (2003), Lords of Dogtown (2005), The Nativity Story (2006), Twilight (2008), and Red Riding Hood (2011).
Now here’s a director that a lot of aspiring filmmakers want to imitate. Or at the very least, we all want to hear his filmmaking tips and tricks. J.J. Abrams has directed Star Wars, Star Trek Into Darkness, Lost, Super 8 and more. He fills us in on balancing intimacy with hyper-reality, why TV leaves room for surprises and the best advice he’s ever been given.
What can be said about Kevin Smith that hasn’t already been said? Mostly by himself in one of the thousands of podcasts he releases every day. All of which, by the way, are a must listen for filmmakers. The stories and anecdotes he tells about filmmaking are amazing and level of detail he goes into really gives you a great idea of what being a filmmaker is all about. So it stands to reason then, that this short video goes into the same amount of detail.
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright
Possibly three of the GetFilming teams favorite people in the filmmaking industry. From the days they collaborated on Big Train and Spaced, through to the films of the Cornetto Trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. If you’re a filmmaking gang or rabble or team then you’ll probably want to know about making films with friends, what filmmaking tips they have to share and how you can replicate their success. It’s handy that we have a video here for you to watch, then.
Judd Apatow is a very particular kind of filmmaker. He knows what he is good at and he sticks to it. Honing his craft and style over many years with films like Bridesmaids, The 40 Yr Old Virgin, Knocked Up etc. But even someone who has perfected their style had to start somewhere, so Judd explains how the wisdom imparted to him at that young age has stuck with him throughout his career. He also talks about how comedy has had a huge influence on him from a very early age.
We’re all pretty envious of Terry Gilliam’s filmmaking list. He has been involved in so many cult classics that it would be hard not be envious. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Brothers Grimm and of course, Monty Python and the Holy Grail are all films he has acted in, written or directed. What a guy. Gilliam talks to BAFTA about how he got where he is and what advice he has for anyone at the beginning of their filmmaking journey.
Let us know your filmmaking tips in the comments below!