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Top 101 Filmmaking Quotes to Inspire

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Top 101 Filmmaking Quotes to Inspire

Anyone who has ever listen to the IFH Podcasts knows that I start off every episode with a filmmaking quote. I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite filmmaking quotes from some of the masters of the medium. Without further ado enjoy the inspiration.


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

 

When given an opportunity, deliver excellence and never quit.
― Robert Rodriguez

 

The saddest journey in the world is the one that follows a precise itinerary. Then you're not a traveler. You're a [email protected]@king tourist.
― Guillermo del Toro

 

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

Film is, to me, just unimportant. But people are very important.
― John Cassavetes

 

Let me just pause a minute and drink in this moment. And if you film it, I’ll be able to get free refills for life.
― Jarod Kintz

 

Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out.
― Martin Scorsese

 

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

 

The characters in my films try to live honestly and make the most of the lives they’ve been given. I believe you must live honestly and develop your abilities to the full. People who do this are the real heroes.
– Akira Kurosawa

 

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

 

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

 

A film is – or should be – more like musicthan 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

 

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

 

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

 

A lot of times you get credit for stuff in your movie that you didn’t intend to be there.
– Spike Lee

 

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

 

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

 

For me, filmmaking combines everything. That’s the reason I’ve made cinema my life’s work. In films, painting and literature, theatre and music come together. But a film is still a film.
Akira Kurosawa

 

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

 

My idea of professionalism is probably a lot of people's idea of obsessive.
David Fincher

 

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

 

I like unformed characters. This may be because, no matter how old I get, I am still unformed myself.
– Akira Kurosawa

 

If a million people see my movie, I hope they see a million different movies.
Quentin Tarantino

 

The only safe thing is to take a chance.
– Mike Nichols

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Casting is 65 percent of directing.
– John Frankenheimer

 

You see so many movies… the younger people who are coming from MTV or who are coming from commercialsand 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

 

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

 

Hollywood is great. I also think it's stupid and small-minded and shortsighted.
– David Fincher

 

Being an artist means not having to avert one’s eyes.
– Akira Kurosawa

 

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

– Billy Wilder

 

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

 

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

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Film is a battleground.
–  Sam Fuller

 

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

 

All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.
– Charlie Chaplin

 

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

 

Eighty Percent of Success is Turning Up.
– Woody Allen

 

Human beings share the same common problems. A film can only be understood if it depicts these properly.
– Akira Kurosawa

 

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

 

The first monster you have to scare the audience with is yourself.
– Wes Craven

 

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

 

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

 

It is the power of memory that gives rise to the power of imagination.
– Akira Kurosawa

 

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

 

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

 

I’ve reached a place that many directors and filmmakers get to, and I’m grateful for that, and I can work within those boundaries. If something comes along that is totally outside of horror, fine, but I find there’s an immense amount of freedom within the genre.
– Wes Craven

 

In order to write scripts, you must first study the great novels and dramas of the world. You must consider why they are great. Where does the emotion come from that you feel as you read them? What degree of passion did the author have to have, what level of meticulousness did he have to command, in order to portray the characters and events as he did? You must read thoroughly, to the point where you can grasp all these things. You must also see the great films. You must read the great screenplays and study the film theories of the great directors. If your goal is to become a film director, you must master screenwriting.
– Akira Kurosawa

 

“I just want to tell good stories in ways that will shine a light on lives rarely seen on screen,  because stories can push humanity forward.”
– Nia Dacosta

 

“It sounds kind of flighty, filmmaker-y, but I believe films are a piece of art. They are meant to be what they’re meant to be, and sometimes the artist is informed by the film of what it needs to be.”
– Ava DuVernay

 

“Truly creative things happen when one thinks differently, yet nobody wants to think differently.”
– Shonda Rhimes

 

“The challenge with this kind of work is in trying to make it everyone’s story. That can quickly make it no one’s story, and so I like projects that are risky and scary and that aren’t sure-shots.” – Dee Rees

 

“I don’t really wanna think about themes, I wanna just think about the experience of the movie. I feel like, as soon as I reduce it to a theme, once I write that sentence, it won’t be that great […] there’s more potential for it to mean something interesting if I’m not forcing it to mean something I’ve already decided.” – Wes Anderson

 

“In film, we sculpt time, we sculpt behavior and we sculpt light.”
– David Fincher

 

“There is no free lunch, so if you’re playing with the big train set – on big movies – it’s a lot of money they’re entrusting you with, and you have to get that money back for them. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.”
– Jon Favreau

 

“It’s one thing having, for instance, nice images on your studio wall that influence you when you’re just beginning as an artist or filmmaker, but when you go about getting into a situation where you begin to make work yourself, it’s a different kettle of fish altogether. It’s all about doing it—the physicality of making films. What you see at the end is never the same as the situation of how it was done, yet that process is very important. It’s all about making a lot of mistakes and being brave.”
– Steve McQueen

 

“Don’t show it to somebody until you’re ready to show it to somebody. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Put your strongest foot forward.”
– Kasi Lemmons

 

“When you’re doing films, just with friends, with no money, on a shoestring. You have to be able to do all the jobs… And it’s a wonderful way to learn everything.”
– Christopher Nolan

 

“To me, no matter who you’re casting for what role, if something’s authentic, usually you can mine something good there.”
– Barry Jenkins

 

“We want to see drama told in a cathartic way, with power, with emotion, where you empathize and then you’re frightened. All those feelings charge up in you and you feel for the story.”
– Danny Boyle

 

“I am not here to bring trauma into people’s life so, my job as a director is to conjure the best out of other people within what they have already to work with.”
– Patty Jenkins

 

“People will forgive pretty much every technical thing before they will forgive bad sound. Your movie could look amazing, but if on every cut, the audio track is popping and making them aware of the cuts, it will pull them out.”
– Ryan Coogler

 

I’ve been obsessed with doomsday for a long time – the idea that different cultures respond to it differently, and religions will change people’s outlook on it.”
– Lorene Scafaria

 

“When you work for other people you’ll find … that they do know what’s best for them, and for the company. And you should listen to them and be respectful, but they don’t know what’s best for you.”
– Mike Judge

 

“I’ve been very fortunate. Some people might call me a hard head, but I’m not going to let other people dictate to me who I should be or the stories I should tell. That doesn’t register with me.”
– Spike Lee

 

“If you wanna do a film where you have a big scope, you've got to make your characters relatable and genuine.”
– Jennifer Lee

 

“Screenwriting is like ironing. You move forward a little bit and go back and smooth things out.”
– Paul Thomas Anderson

 

“If I could boil it down to one thing… never ask permission to make movies. There’s no reason why you have to be asking permission to do your work.”
– Chris McQuarrie

 

“The advice I would give to any director is that you should act. A lot of directors spend a lot of time getting very good at technical things and imagining things visually, but they’ve never really learned how to direct a scene… It doesn’t matter how good a shot looks, the lifeblood, the thing that people will connect to, is these people.”
– Greta Gerwig

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“You hear it said time and time again by successful directors: You have to make a movie for yourself. Don’t make it for anyone else.”
– Jordan Peele

 

“I'm quite optimistic, but I feel we do need more female producers, more female cinematographers and such, just to make a better working environment among predominantly male crews.”
– Mary Harron

 

“Every actor comes with their own experience, method, methodology.”
– Todd Haynes

 

“We need Storytelling. Otherwise, life just goes on and on like the number Pi.”
– Ang Lee

 

“The movie is not only about what story you're telling and who you're looking at. It's mostly about how you're telling it and how you're looking at it.”
– Celine Sciamma

 

“My favorite genre lies inside myself, and as I follow my favorite stories, characters, and images, it sums up to a certain genre. So at times even I have to try to guess which genre a film will be after I've made it.”
– Bong Joon-ho

 

“A documentary filmmaker can't help but use poetry to tell the story. I bring truth to my fiction. These things go hand in hand.”
– Chloe Zhao

 

“The lies are in the dialogue, the truth is in the visuals.”
– Kelly Reichardt

 

“When I started writing the script, I realized that I hadn’t really seen any film with a black couple that was worthy of Romeo and Juliet…And through Ada and Souleiman I wanted to relate a similar kind of tragic love, in the age of rampant capitalism.”
– Mati Diop

 

“So I feel a responsibility to help first-time filmmakers in Brazil, but also to increase the dialogue between film cultures which are really wonderful and so much closer to us than what we do see on our screens.”
– Walter Salles

 

“My advice for anyone wanting to direct is that nobody is going to hand you an opportunity. You have to create your own opportunities and not take no for an answer.”
– Marielle Heller

 

“The questions I want to ask will revolve around humans, connection, relationships, family, and stories – what are the stories we tell ourselves and each other?”
– Lulu Wang

 

“I feel like there's more of a need to tell more optimistic stories.”
– Eliza Hittman

 

“If you have the opportunity for your art to meet activism, you shouldn't pass that up when it comes your way.”
– Regina King

 

“I started making films for myself and embracing the craft of filmmaking again. Consequently, my work got so much better.”
– Chinonye Chukwu

 

“There's still a 1950s view of cinema, that there's one audience and they all want to see the same thing.”
– Michael Winterbottom

 

“I would tell filmmakers: ‘Don't just be seduced by the same old, same old. There are interesting things you can explore that may get your film out there to audiences better than the traditional distribution mechanisms.”
– Alex Gibney

 

“In a kid’s film, you go through the full range of human emotions…You’re scared, you’re excited, you laugh, you’re joyous, you’re sad. It’s exactly what she aims to capture.”
– Josephine Decker

 

“As independent filmmakers, we are actually deeply dependent on each other. The Spirit Awards are a public expression of those bonds, the intricate set of relationships and histories that we filmmakers depend on to make our most personal work.”
– Ira Sachs

 

“Storytelling was a way to see the world bigger than the one you were looking at, and that had great appeal for me.”
– Robert Redford

 

“I feel that as a writer and as a performer too. I never really thought about the backstory for characters. It was much more of a musical approach: You learn a melody, and then you sing it, I suppose, or you find a rhythm or a cadence that works for the material. And then it's sort of about hitting that note correctly and finding those beats.”
– Brady Corbet

“Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and make a movie of any kind at all.”
– Stanley Kubrick

“You're learning as you're going, as a director, and each movie is its own entity.”
– Chris Buck

 

“Cinema is not only about making people dream. It's about changing things and making people think.”
–  Nadine Labaki

 

“I wanted to make gritty independent films that explored the same issues the movies that I looked up to when I was a teenager: coming of age, trauma, what it meant to live in really confusing situations. Of course, you try to figure out your world narratively.”
– Bing Liu

 

“I think what you need to search for in films is the integrity of the image. I wanted to make films with solid images that confront the spectator.”
– Alice Rohrwacher

 

“Movies don’t have to impress everyone the moment that it drops. Stuff can take its time to find its audience.”
– Cathy Yan

 

“The one thing that helps me construct the film […] is the places, actually, […] places have a soul [..]and I don’t even know what’s going to be in the scenes, I just know I want them to be here, and it gives me a frame.”
– Mia Hansen-Love

 

“Making films is about having absolute and foolish confidence; the challenge for all of us is to have the heart of a poet and the skin of an elephant.”
– Mira Nair ​​

 

“Movies don't look hard, but figuring it out, getting the shape of it, getting everybody's character right, and having it be funny, make sense and be romantic, it's creating a puzzle.” – Nancy Meyers