101 Great Filmmaker Quotes

Today we gathered together a collection of inspiring, thought provoking and humorous quotes from great filmmakers of the past and present. There is nothing I’m going to write this late at night that will compete, so on with the show…

There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness.
- Frank Capra


If I were ever stranded on a desert island there would be three things I’d need: food, shelter, and a grip.
- George C. Scott


We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.
- Walt Disney


There’s nothing creative about living within your means.
- Francis Ford Coppola


I was always a filmmaker before I was anything else. If I was always anything, I was a storyteller, and it never really made much of a difference to me what medium I worked in.
- Nicholas Meyer


People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.
–Steven Spielberg


I think it’s a very strange question that I have to defend myself. I don’t feel that. You are all my guests, it’s not the other way around, that’s how I feel.
— Lars Von Trier


If two men on a job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, then both are useless.
–Daryl F. Zanuck


Film is incredibly democratic and accessible, it’s probably the best option if you actually want to change the world, not just re-decorate it.
- Banksy


In England, I’m a horror movie director. In Germany, I’m a filmmaker. In the US, I’m a bum.
- John Carpenter


My three Ps: passion, patience, perseverance. You have to do this if you’ve got to be a filmmaker.
- Robert Wise


There is no reason why challenging themes and engaging stories have to be mutually exclusive – in fact, each can fuel the other. As a filmmaker, I want to entertain people first and foremost. If out of that comes a greater awareness and understanding of a time or a circumstance, then the hope is that change can happen.
- Edward Zwick


When you start out as a filmmaker, you do parodies, because you can’t really compete on a studio level.
- Bill Paxton


As a filmmaker you get typecast just as much as an actor does, so I’m trapped in a genre that I love, but I’m trapped in it!
- George A. Romero


Everybody’s a filmmaker today.
- John Milius


Pain is temporary, film is forever!
- John Milius


I would travel down to Hell and wrestle a film away from the devil if it was necessary.
- Werner Herzog


My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.
- Robert Bresson


The wide screen reminds me of a roll of toilet paper.
-Yasujiro Ozu


I like tits and ass. Mostly tits.
- Paul Verhoeven


Editing feels almost like sculpting or a form of continuing the writing process.
- Sydney Pollack


I don’t have a moral plan, I’m a Canadian.
- David Cronenberg


(When asked what a director does) I help.
- Krzysztof Kieslowski


Film is a battleground.
- Sam Fuller


There’s nothing quite like the idea of failing spectacularly to excite a film maker
- Mike Figgis


Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.
- Alfred Hitchcock


The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.
- Orson Welles


A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end… but not necessarily in that order.
- Jean-Luc Godard


Documentaries have always inspired me in narrative filmmaking.
- Griffin Dunne


Nobody will ever notice that. Filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It’s about the big picture.
- Ed Wood


Movies took you right up to the edge but kept you safe.
- John Updike


This Whole World is Wild at Heart and Weird on Top.
- David Lynch


Films are always pretentious. There’s nothing more pretentious than a filmmaker.
- John Milius


I couldn’t sleep one night and I was sitting in my office and I realized that I was an independent filmmaker.
- Darren Aronofsky


If filmmaking was a beautiful woman, I would have trouble wooing her because she’s a needy jerk.
- Justin Bundy


I think one of the privileges of being a filmmaker is the opportunity to remain a kind of perpetual student.
- Edward Zwick


Self-plagiarism is style.
- Alfred Hitchcock


What I always tell people is… Unless you are so passionate about filmmaking that you would rather live out of your car than not do it, find something else to do as a career and do filmmaking as a hobby. This industry is one of the hardest to break into and be successful. It takes a lot of passion and dedication for it to get anywhere…
- Ryan Connolly


A Great Movie Evolves when Everybody Has the Same Vision in Their Heads.
- Alan Parker


A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.
- Stanley Kubrick


No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.
- Ingmar Bergman


The Biggest Mistake in Student Films is That They Are Usually Cast So Badly, With Friends and People the Directors Know.
- Brian De Palma


Nothing Recedes Like Success.
- Bryan Forbes


All I Need to Make a Comedy is a Park, a Policeman and a Pretty Girl.
- Charlie Chaplin


The Best Actors Instinctively Feel out What the Other Actors Need, and They Just Accommodate It.
- Christopher Nolan


Anxiety is the Handmaiden of Creativity.
- Chuck Jones


Censors Tend to Do What Only Psychotics Do: They Confuse Reality With Illusion.
- David Cronenberg


Art Depends on Luck and Talent.
- Francis Ford Coppola


A Hunch is Creativity Trying to Tell You Something.
- Frank Capra


If You Want to Send a Message, Try Western Union.
- Frank Capra


Although I Write Screenplays, I Don’t Think I’m a Good Writer.
- George Lucas


People Watch Luck Go by Them and They’re Blind – They Never Reach out and Grab It.
- George Roy Hill


And Later I Thought, I Can’t Think How Anyone Can Become a Director Without Learning the Craft of Cinematography.
- Gus Van Sant


I think audiences get too comfortable and familiar in today’s movies. They believe everything they’re hearing and seeing. I like to shake that up.
- Christopher Nolan


Photography is Truth. The Cinema is Truth Twenty-four Times Per Second.
- Jean-Luc Godard


A Film is a Petrified Fountain of Thought.
- Jean Cocteau


A Director Makes Only One Movie in His Life. Then He Breaks It Into Pieces and Makes It Again.
- Jean Renoir


I Don’t Try to Guess What a Million People Will Like. It’s Hard Enough to Know What I Like.
- John Huston


Life is Like a B-picture Script. It is That Corny. If I Had My Life Story Offered to Me to Film, I’d Turn It Down.
- Kirk Douglas


I Am Certain There is Too Much Certainty in the World.
- Michael Crichton


If you have to have a job in this world, a high-priced movie star is a pretty good gig.
- Tom Hanks


A Team Effort is a Lot of People Doing What I Say.
- Michael Winner


The Only Safe Thing is to Take a Chance.
- Mike Nichols


I Hate Television. I Hate It As Much As Peanuts. But I Can’t Stop Eating Peanuts.
- Orson Welles


If a Million People See My Movie, I Hope They See a Million Different Movies.
- Quentin Tarantino


The End of a Picture is Always an End of a Life.
- Sam Peckinpah


A Lot of Times You Get Credit for Stuff in Your Movie You Didn’t Intend to Be There.
- Spike Lee


A Movie That Costs Only $1.6 Million Doesn’t Have to Be a Cultural Event to Turn a Profit.
- Steven Soderbergh


Why Pay a Dollar for a Bookmark? Why Not Use the Dollar for a Bookmark?
- Steven Spielberg


The More Opinions You Have, the Less You See.
- Wim Wenders


Eighty Percent of Success is Turning Up.
- Woody Allen


If My Film Makes One More Person Miserable, I’ve Done My Job.
- Woody Allen


It’s all just one film to me. Just different chapters.
- Robert Altman


If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies.
- Kathryn Bigelow


You see so many movies… the younger people who are coming from MTV or who are coming from commercials and there’s no sense of film grammar. There’s no real sense of how to tell a story visually. It’s just cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, you know, which is pretty easy.
- Peter Bogdanovich


Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee.
- James Cameron


We tend to do period stuff because it helps make it one step removed from boring everyday reality.
- Ethan Coen


In the future, everybody is going to be a director. Somebody’s got to live a real life so we have something to make a movie about.
- Cameron Crowe


First cuts are a bitch for a director, because it’s been so many months and you put your trust in your editor and you’re going to see your film assembled for the first time. You look at it and go, This is terrible. I hate it.
- Richard Donner


Our feeling is that the most important thing on a set is that actors have enough confidence to try different things. If there’s stress or tension, they won’t go out on a limb because they won’t want to embarrass themselves if they don’t feel completely comfortable.
- Peter Farrelly


Casting is 65 percent of directing.
- John Frankenheimer


Movement should be a counter, whether in action scenes or dialogue or whatever. It counters where your eye is going. This style thing, for me it’s all fitted to the action, to the script, to the characters.
- Samuel Fuller


I’m a storyteller – that’s the chief function of a director. And they’re moving pictures, let’s make ‘em move!
- Howard Hawks


One of the great things about being a director as a life choice is that it can never be mastered. Every story is its own kind of expedition, with its own set of challenges.
- Ron Howard


Most of my characters are romantic rather than sexual. I think that’s an essential difference in my pictures. I think they are more accurate in portraying young people as romantic – as wanting a relationship, an understanding with a member of the opposite sex more than just physical sex.
- John Hughes


The directing of a picture involves coming out of your individual loneliness and taking a controlling part in putting together a small world. A picture is made. You put a frame around it and move on. And one day you die. That is all there is to it.
- John Huston


I’m like a navigator and I try to encourage our collaboration and find the best way that will produce fruit. I like fruit. I like cherries, I like bananas.
- Jim Jarmusch


I think maybe making films is something innate you can’t really teach to begin with.
- Richard Linklater


But having a really good understanding of history, literature, psychology, sciences – is very, very important to actually being able to make movies.
- George Lucas


Commitment is the enemy of resistance, for it is the serious promise to press on, to get up, no matter how many times you are knocked down.
- David McNally


I always believe it’s better to have 30 imaginations working on a project, rather than one imagination telling the other 29 what to do.
- Trevor Nunn


Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater.
- Roman Polanski


A style is not a matter of camera angles or fancy footwork, it’s an expression, an accurate expression of your particular opinion.
- Karel Reisz


I love making people laugh. It’s an addiction and it’s probably dysfunctional, but I am addicted to it and there’s no greater pleasure for me than sitting in a theater and feeling a lot of people losing control of themselves.
- Jay Roach


It’s always been my formula to get the next picture set up before anyone’s seen the last one.
- Alan Rudolph


Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.
- Martin Scorsese


People say I pay too much attention to the look of a movie but for God’s sake, I’m not producing a Radio 4 Play for Today, I’m making a movie that people are going to look at.
- Ridley Scott


A director must be a policeman, a midwife, a psychoanalyst, a sycophant and a bastard.
- Billy Wilder