Elia Kazan: On What Makes a Film Director

Kazan


The director does it because he has to. Who else will? Who else loves the film that much?
— Elia Kazan

Yesterday I was asked to write about why I wanted to be a Film Director – which, despite my unwavering passion for filmmaking, proved to be a lot harder than I’d anticipated.

The easy answer was “because I love movies”… but that wasn’t good enough or accurate enough.

It’s very hard to explain why anyone would want to be a film director. Why would you want to do that? What drives you? You must be a creative and a technician, while being both an artist and businessman. You must be cynical yet sentimental. You must conjure inspiration, commit with perspiration and maintain unwavering dedication. You must have all the answers to all the questions, all the time. It’s damn hard work and can hurt so damn much – there are certainly a thousand easier ways to earn a living.

Directors Close UpBut while searching for inspiration I remembered a piece of writing I read many years back in my faithful copy of Directors Close Up (if you haven’t got a copy of this book, get one pronto!)

The book is a brilliant read and features interviews with Directors Guild of America nominees for outstanding feature film directing. James Cameron, Frank Darabont, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Ang Lee, Baz Luhrmann, Sam Mendes, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone and Robert Zemeckis… they’re all in there and the personal insights into their filmmaking processes are priceless for professional and aspiring directors alike.

But it was to Appendix C on page 315 that I turned… because tucked away in the back of this book hides a transcript of the single most inspiring speech for anyone who’s ever wanted to be a Film Director. (more…)

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