10 Famous Directors on Making Their First Feature Films

It’s been five long years since we’ve been treated to a new Paul Thomas Anderson film. The 2007 Daniel Day-Lewis drama There Will Be Blood left an indelible impression on audiences, but fans of the Boogie Nights director are ready to see his 1950s-set, Scientology-inspired tale The Master about a cult leader (Philip Seymore Hoffman) who rises to prominence, with a drifter as his right-hand man (Joaquin Phoenix).

Although Anderson quickly established himself as a wunderkind, the road to the filmmaker’s first feature wasn’t an easy one — as website This Must Be the Place pointed out. See what the talented director had to say about making his first movie Hard Eight past the break. Then, click through for more words of wisdom, anxious confessions, memories, and the early hopes and fears of other famous directors, reflecting on their first feature films.

Paul Thomas Anderson on Hard Eight

In lieu of going to school, a young Anderson put everything he had into making his calling card, the short Cigarettes & Coffee, in 1993. It quickly got him noticed, and he was invited to join the Sundance filmmakers’ lab. He started working on his 1996 film Hard Eight (retitled from Sydney), struggling with reedits imposed by Rysher Entertainment. Thankfully, with a lot of support and an extra $200,000 he was able to release the original cut and launch his career — with no help from Rysher to promote him. “The very first film, I had to fight to finish,” Anderson said. “It was baptism by fire. I learned all the lessons I needed to learn on the first film, about protecting myself and how to keep a lock on the editing-room door.”