What does it take to become a filmmaker? No doubt it’s a variety of prodigious attributes, but passion has to be the common denominator amongst the greats. How else could Steven Spielberg ever have pulled off Schindler’s List or ET or any of the other blockbuster films he’s delivered without passion for his craft? How could Alfred Hitchcock have given Psycho to a nail biting audience if he wasn’t 100% passionate about the delivery? Could not have happened.
One of my personal favorites was the light hearted Planes, Trains and Automobiles shot in 1987. Several days were filmed at Lambert International airport in St. Louis, Missouri. My Uncle’s catering business was on hand for 12 of those days making sure the crew was well fed. Apparently, the director, John Hughes was not always as light hearted as the film itself. It must take intense focus and a firm sense of direction, even when working with a comedy to pull off a number one box office hit.
Over the years there have been dozens of highly recognizable directors, producers, writers – film makers. To highlight a few is difficult at best, but within the next couple of articles I will touch on some that will go down in history as men and women who became influential in our time through their work on the big screen.
OK, I have a soft spot in my heart for this quirky, not always politically correct, director/filmmaker. His early films were more comedic in nature; Sleeper, Annie Hall, A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy, and that’s what his audience expected from him forever more. Not so sorry to disappoint, Allen went on to carry his reputation into more serious works like Blue Jasmine and Midnight in Paris.
As a faithful fan, I can’t help but admit Allen’s transition to displaying a more serious side at first left me wanting the old shtick I knew and loved. However, seeing the genius behind the portrayal of daily life in his more poignant films cannot be denied. I will always be first at the ticket counter to get into a newly released Woody Allen movie.
Francis Ford Coppola
As a film director, writer and producer Coppola brought us dozens of films and most notably, the Godfather Trilogy. Even typing the name of the series conjures up the soundtrack in my mind and the image of a severed horse head. These films were intense, and not for the weak of heart, which meant he must have had laser concentration to tell the story the way it needed to be told.
When it came to another of his most prominent pieces of work, Apocalypse Now, he once again demonstrated that passion I mentioned earlier. He pulled it off so intensely, I had friends at the time who couldn’t bring themselves to go to the theater to watch it.
Having cut my transcendental teeth on 2001, A Space Odyssey, Kubrick’s work never let me down. Earlier films which are not as readily recognized like Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, and Barry Lyndon still have that Kubrick passion that sets them aside from the run of the mill.
His most prominent work went on to include A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket. Having only one Oscar to his name, he is still considered one of the best in the business.
Of the dozens of accomplished filmmakers over the decades these are just three that I’ve taken the time to highlight. We are fortunate to have the talent and media to tell good stories. There’s big money in becoming a filmmaker, but the rewards to the public are just as big – and in most cases longer lasting.
Who is your favorite filmmaker? Leave a comment below and chime in on the conversation.