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50 Industry Insiders Share Their Filmmaking Secrets


I’m descending into the LondonSWF submissions rabbithole for another year, so I’m turning over the blog to you Bang2writers, headed up by the lovely and talented Olivia Brennan.

Olivia will be sourcing and writing great content for the main site, as well as helping facilitate scriptchat on the B2W Facebook page and over at Twitter, so make sure you follow her as @LivSFB.

So first up, thanks to Olivia for this MAMMOTH list of quotes she’s curated – I love how she’s found such a diverse selection of people here. Nice one! My favourites are 11, 32 and 49 … Which are yours?

From actors, screenwriters and directors, here are some helpful insights to get your mojo going and next project started!

1) Steven Spielberg

“You can’t start a movie by having the attitude that the script is finished, because if you think the script is finished, your movie is finished before the first day of shooting.” MORE: The Writer Is King (Or Queen) … IF You’re In Ultra-Low-Budget Film

2) Matthew McConaughey

“You want to be a writer? Start writing. You want to be a filmmaker? Start shooting stuff on your phone right now.”

3) Quentin Tarantino

“When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.”

4) Diablo Cody

“Don’t ever agonize about the other writers who are ostensibly your competition. No one is capable of doing what you do.”

5) Ridley Scott

“Never be put off by anything because failure teaches you something.” MORE: 6 Ways YOU’RE Stopping Your Own Writing Success

6) Joss Whedon

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”

7) Morgan Freeman

“Sometimes you want to upset an audience so you can engage them. If your story’s complete it doesn’t have to have a happy ending.”

8) Lena Dunham

“I have to write people who feel honest but also push our cultural ball forward.”

9) Bryan Cranston

“What’s great about well-written material is, if you can shock with justifiable actions, that’s the best.”

10) Harvey Weinstein

“People love a true story and especially where two people from opposite worlds come together.” MORE: How True Can A “True Story” Be?


11) Amy Poehler

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it.”

12) James Cameron

“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.”

13) Will Smith

“Whatever your dream is, every extra penny you have needs to be going to that.”

14) Danny Boyle

“To be a filmmaker, you have to lead. You have to be psychotic in your desire to do something.”

15) Mindy Kaling

“Twitter is the most amazing medium for a writer. It’s a way of getting out other ideas and immediately getting feedback.” MORE: 5 Ways Tweeting Will Make You A Better Writer

16) Sofia Coppola

“I try to just make what I want to make or what I would want to see. I try not to think about the audience too much.”

17) Stanley Kubrick

“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” 

18) George R. R . Martin

“One of the big breakthroughs was reading Robert A. Heinlein’s four rules of writing, one of which was, ‘You must finish what you write’.”

19) Kathryn Bigelow

“With each project, I’m going for something that makes viewers think, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen a film like this before.” 

20) Steve McQueen

“I like to start a sentence and let it take me, the characters and narrative dictate how I film a scene.” MORE: Build It And They Will Come: Lucy V’s Wager

women filmmaker

21) Peter Jackson

“The most honest form of filmmaking is to make a film for yourself.”

22) Rashida Jones

“My writing partner implements a no-phones-for-an-hour rule. It seems utterly ridiculous but the rule helps.”

23) Spike Lee

“I think it is very important that films make people look at what they’ve forgotten.” 

24) Tina Fey

“If you want to be a screenwriter, take an acting class to get a sense of what you’re asking actors to do.”

25) Martin Scorsese

“The most important thing is how can I move forward towards something that I can’t articulate, that is new in storytelling with moving images and sound?” MORE: 8 Ways For Screenwriters To Get Collaborating & Making

26) Steve Jobs

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. Don’t settle.”

27) George Lucas

“A director makes 100 decisions an hour. If you don’t know how to make the right decision, you’re not a director.”

28) Kerry Washington

“I really love research. I feel like it’s me in the lab cooking up the character.”

29) John Lasseter

“Everything I do and everything Pixar does is based on a simple rule: ‘Quality is the best business plan, period.’”

30) Clint Eastwood

“Respect your efforts and respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” MORE: How To Make It As A Writer AKA This Shit Ain’t Accidental 


31) Darren Aronofsky

“A good ending is the most important thing because that’s what people are leaving the theatre with.” 

32) J.K Rowling

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days. Do not cave in to ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days.”

33) M. Night Shyamalan

“I love my stories being multi-layered, and coming from different angles, so that you don’t understand the film’s true emotional motivation until the very end.”

34) Sam Taylor Wood

“I’m motivated every second by my work; it doesn’t switch off.”

35) Robert McKee

‘Secure writers don’t sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until the script is as director-ready as possible.” MORE: 10 Awesome Writing Tips From Robert McKee

36) J.J. Abrams

“I’ve always liked working on stories that combine people who are relatable with something insane.”

37) Clive Barker

“Gather experience. Look at what you should not look at. Anxiety is evidence that you should do this.”

38) James Gunn

“I don’t know if there is any one secret to successful writing, but one important step is to move beyond imitation and discover what you can write that no one else can.”

39) Lee Daniels

“When I make movies, I don’t ever go out there to please anyone other than myself.”

40) Christopher Nolan

“Every film should have its own world, a logic and feel to it that expands beyond the exact image the audience is seeing.” MORE: 4 Reasons It’s All About Entertainment, Not Theory


41) Anthony Hopkins

“I’m most suspicious of scripts that have a lot of stage direction at the top of the page.”

42) Tim Burton

“Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?”

43) Bryan Singer

“There’s no point in making films unless you intend to show us something special.”

44) Ed Catmull

“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offence when they are challenged.”

45) Nicholas Cage

“To be good you have to be something like a criminal, to be willing to break the rules and strive for something new.” MORE: 5 Reasons Why “The Rules” Will Kill Your Writing DEAD

46) Zack Snyder

“Origin stories are really important to me. If you don’t have that stuff, it’s kind of a one dimension version of it.”

47) Ang Lee

“Sometimes, you have to get angry to get things done.”

48) Kate Winslet

“Any form of self-expression is half confidence, half sheer hard work and a bit of talent thrown in.”

49) Heath Ledger

“If you’re just safe about the choices you make, you don’t grow.”

50) Robin Williams

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” MORE20 Inspirational Quotes Writers Can Learn From (And Why)



IMG_8071Hello, my name is Olivia Brennan, a 25 year old woman who was first inspired by the power of film when I cowered behind a cushion watching JAWS, aged 6. Ever since, I’ve made it my mission to understand what ingredients make a great film and why we all love films so much, even loving to hate the bad ones! I work as a Freelance Writer, Script Assistant & Assistant Script Editor. Check out my blog, HERE and feel free to follow me on twitter as @LivSFB and say hi …

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