Meticulous, obsessive, and tireless, legendary director Stanley Kubrick has seen a career renaissance in recent years with a major retrospective at LACMA, a fascinating documentary about the conspiracy theories behind The Shining, and more. Today would have been Kubrick’s 86th birthday. In celebration of his astonishing 48-year career in cinema, we’re looking back on some of the director’s greatest quotes about filmmaking. These excerpts offer an intimate look at the frequently interview-shy icon, revealing insight into his films, moviemaking process, and views on cinema.
“A director can’t get anything out of an actor that he doesn’t already have. You can’t start an acting school in the middle of making a film.”
“The great thing about underground films … is their great disrespect for the technical problems of making a film. It’s about the healthiest thing that has ever happened in movies.”
“The best education in film is to make one. I would advise any neophyte director to try to make a film by himself. A three-minute short will teach him a lot. I know that all the things I did at the beginning were, in microcosm, the things I’m doing now as a director and producer. There are a lot of noncreative aspects to filmmaking which have to be overcome, and you will experience them all when you make even the simplest film: business, organization, taxes, etc., etc. It is rare to be able to have uncluttered artistic environment when you make a film, and being able to accept this is essential. The point to stress is that anyone seriously interested in making a film should find as much money as he can as quickly as he can and go out and do it. And this is no longer as difficult as it once was. When I began making movies as an independent in the early 1950s I received a fair amount of publicity because I was something of a freak in an industry dominated by a handful of huge studios. Everyone was amazed that it could be done at all. But anyone can make a movie who has a little knowledge of cameras and tape recorders, a lot of ambition and — hopefully — talent. It’s gotten down to the pencil and paper level. We’re really on the threshold of a revolutionary new era in film.”
“The first really important book I read about filmmaking was The Film Technique by Pudovkin. This was some time before I had ever touched a movie camera and it opened my eyes to cutting and montage.”
“A director’s style is partly the result of the manner in which he imposes his mind on the semicontrollable conditions that exist on any given day — the responsiveness and talent of actors, the realism of the set, time factors, even weather.”