Here is an article that details five famous film directors who all have one thing in common they didn’t spend a single day in film school. They learned and became a master at their craft from simple trial and error, self-study and unshakable self confidence and belief in themselves.
5. David Fincher
Fincher is an Academy Award-nominated American filmmaker and music video director known for his dark and stylish movies such as Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Fincher eschewed the film school route, getting a job loading cameras and doing other hands-on work for John Korty’s Korty Films. He was later hired by Industrial Light & Magic in 1980, where he worked on productions for Twice Upon a Time,Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Set on a directing career, Fincher joined video-production company Propaganda Films and started off directing music videos and commercials. Like Fincher, other directors such as Meiert Avis, David Kellogg, Michael Bay, Antoine Fuqua, Neil LaBute, Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek, Michel Gondry, Paul Rachman, Zack Snyder, Gore Verbinski, and Alex Proyas honed their talents at Propaganda Films before moving on to feature films
Oscar History: 1 Nomination
4. Peter Jackson
Mr. Jackson is a three-time Academy Award-winning New Zealand filmmaker, producer and screenwriter, best known for The Lord of the Rings trilogy adapted from the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien. He is also known for his 2005 remake of King Kong.
He won international attention early in his career with his “splatstick” horror comedies, before coming to mainstream prominence with Heavenly Creatures, for which he shared an Academy Award best screenplay nomination with his partner Fran Walsh
Jackson has no formal training in film-making, but learned about editing, special effects and makeup largely through his own trial and error. As a teenager Jackson discovered the work of author J. R. R. Tolkien after watching The Lord of the Rings (1978), an animated film by Ralph Bakshi that was a part-adaptation of Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy. After leaving school Jackson began working as a photoengraver at a newspaper company in Wellington, and shooting a feature-length vampire movie that was later abandoned before completion.
Oscar History: 8 nominations, 3 wins.
3. Sir Ridley Scott
Scott is a British Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe, Emmy Award and BAFTA Award winning film director and producer known for his stylish visuals and an obsession for detail. His films include Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down,Matchstick Men, Kingdom of Heaven, American Gangster and Body of Lies. At age 28, Scott made a black and white short film, ‘Boy and Bicycle, starring his younger brother, Tony Scott, and his father. The film’s main visual elements would become features of Scott’s later work. After directing over 2,500 TV commercials, Ridley finally made his feature directorial debut at age 40 making The Duellists. Can you believe that? 40 years old when he made his first feature film. If that is not inspiration for you, I don’t know what is. You’re never too old to become whoever you want to be.
Oscar History: 3 Nominations
2. James Cameron
Mr. I’m the king of the world is an Academy Award-winning Canadian-American director, producer and screenwriter. He has written and directed films as disparate as Aliens andTitanic. To date, his directorial efforts have grossed approximately US$1.1 billion domestically, unadjusted for inflation. Cameron is noted for his films¡Xwhich are often highly innovative, artistic and financially successful¡Xas well as his fierce temper and confrontational personality
Oscar History: 3 wins.
1. Steven Spielberg
Where should I start?
Steven Spielberg is an American film director, screenwriter and film producer. Forbesmagazine places Spielberg’s net worth at $3.1 billion. In 2006, the magazine Premiere listed him as the most powerful and influential figure in the motion picture industry. Time listed him as one of the 100 Most Important People of the Century. At the end of the twentieth century,Life named him the most influential person of his generation. In a career of over four decades, Spielberg’s films have touched on many themes and genres. Spielberg’s early sci-fi and adventure films, sometimes centering on children, were seen as an archetype of modern Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking. In later years his movies began addressing such issues as the Holocaust, slavery, war and terrorism.
Spielberg won the Academy Award for Best Director for 1993’s Schindler’s List and 1998’sSaving Private Ryan. Three of Spielberg’s films, Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993), broke box office records, each becoming the highest-grossing film made at the time. To date, unadjusted gross of all Spielberg directed films exceeds $8.5 billion worldwide.
Oscar History: 12 nominations, 3 wins.
Everything good that can be said about Spielberg has probably alright been said so the best compliment I can give this Hollywood icon is that I saw “Jaws¨ when I was five years old. Now I’m thirty-four and still get a little freaked out when swimming in the ocean, all because Spielberg made a timeless and classic shark thriller.
I hope this article leaves you with the belief that the most important characteristic needed to become a successful movie director is determination. Not schooling, not money, not being a child prodigy and not your contacts.
I would like to end this article with a quote from James Cameron.
“I think the most important thing if you’re an aspiring film-maker is to get rid of the ‘aspiring’… You shoot it, you put your name on it, you’re a film-maker. Everything after that, you’re just negotiating your budget.”
To Your Success!
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