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18 Famous Filmmakers on Creativity

Filmmaking is a collective process, whether it’s a small independent movie involving a handful of people or a Hollywood blockbuster like Avatar or Iron Man 3, which both had crews of around 3,000 people. It’s up to the director, however, to channel all this creative energy into a unified product. The director will have a vision, and the ultimate goal is to transfer that creative vision onto the screen.

For any artist, creative freedom is something to be cherished, and some filmmakers like to take on smaller projects for exactly this reason. When Sofia Coppola, for example, signed up to direct Somewhere in 2010,  she said, “I was trying to make the budget as small as possible so that I can work creatively. Because otherwise, you have to listen to the money people.”

Creativity is the driving force behind any movie, however large or small the production. Famous filmmakers, therefore, know a thing or two about imagination and vision, as the following quotes reveal.

My own experiences and the various things I have read remain in my memory and become the basis upon which I create something new. I couldn’t do it out of nothing.
— Akira Kurosawa

If you are interested in making your film your way, you have to have total creative freedom and final cut. Coming from the world of painting, I always say, no one walks into your room and says, “I don’t like that blue. Change it.” It should be that way in film.
— David Lynch

A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.
— Frank Capra

Just write three or four pages. It's like chopping a tree. Even if you're John Henry, you're not gonna knock down a tree with one stroke. Keep chopping, and eventually, you'll get to the end.
— Spike Lee

I’ve always been compelled by the idea that your mind, when you’re asleep, can create a world that it perceives simultaneously: you’ve literally created a world in your dream... That, to me, has always been the most profound demonstration of the infinite potential of the human mind.
— Christopher Nolan

That's the way I work: I try to imagine what I would like to see.
— Sofia Coppola

I think doing something creative is the most important thing to me, and I think it's probably just good for the soul for anyone, whatever it is ... I think everyone needs to create something.
— Ricky Gervais

Making movies is a way of understanding myself and the world.
— Ang Lee

The public has an appetite for anything about imagination — anything that is as far away from reality as is creatively possible.
— Steven Spielberg

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

Normal is not the thing you usually look for when creating an interesting character.
— Wes Anderson

The first thing I do when I’m trying to come up with a movie is I listen to myself, so listen to my emotion. What makes me scared?
— Jordan Peele

Imagination is a force that can actually manifest a reality. Don’t put limitations on yourself. Others will do that for you.
— James Cameron

Nobody knows what you have in you until you've done it, so I just keep pushing those boundaries, and I figure it will all come out in the wash.
— Greta Gerwig

I pay tribute to the writing always. The writer is a creative artist and the director is an interpretive artist and the actors are interpretive. You take zero and make it into something, that's always amazing to me.
— Clint Eastwood

The director’s task is to recreate life, its movement, its contradictions, its dynamic and conflicts. It is his duty to reveal every iota of the truth he has seen, even if not everyone finds that truth acceptable.
— Andrei Tarkovsky

What you have to make secure and guard with your life — because it is your life — is the same pure creativity that brought you here, and that brought me here too.
— Martin Scorsese

Creativity is an energy. It's a precious energy, and it's something to be protected. A lot of people take for granted that they're a creative person, but I know from experience, feeling it in myself, it is a magic; it is an energy. And it can't be taken for granted.
— Ava DuVernay

Photo credit: sharegrid/ Unsplash

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About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
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