"When I talk to groups they always ask me for advice and I can never really give it, because there is no set way a person gets into the business or becomes a director. Everyone does it differently. They do it by hook and crook and manipulation. Marty Scorsese goes to film school and becomes great, and Leni Refenstahl [laughs] courts Hitler and becomes great. So the only advice I can think of is that it's only the work that counts.
Don't read about yourself, don't have big discussions about your work, just keep your nose to the grindstone. And don't think about any of the perks. Don't think about the money or laudatory things. The less you can think about yourself, the better.
It's like being a baseball pitcher; the less you're conscious of your motion the better you pitch. Just do good work, don't waste time thinking about anything else, don't join the show business circus, don't pay attention to the distractions that people send your way, and everything will fall into place.
If people don't like your work, keep doing your own thing and either they'll wise up or you'll find yourself out of work and deserving to be. If people hate your work, let them-they may be right. Or not. And if people even call you a genius, it' very important to run because you have to ask, If you're a genius, then what is Shakespeare or Mozart or Einstein?
-- Woody Allen in conversation with Eric Lax
Good advice whether you're producing video (my profession), blogging or wanting to direct movies. Keep your head down and focus on the work.
If you're interested in the book (Conversations with Woody Allen), you can click below. The conversations take place over 36 years and it's amazing how humble Mr. Allen is. He's created a career where he gets to make a movie a year - play clarinet on Monday nights - and make it home for dinner with his family. He considers it a job.
He's not interested in creating great art. He spends his time serving the process - solving puzzles. In conversations with Mr Lax, Mr Allen is always working out a plot problem in one of his scripts... he takes long showers to clear his mind - we find out - even when he doesn't need one.
Allen doesn't get all stressed out while shooting (it appears). A scene is to be shot - a discussion ensues with his DP in the morning and they work it out. He's not the Hitchcockian director who storyboards every shot. One thing that struck me was the amount of re-shooting Mr. Allen has put into his films. When he experiences a dip (my words), he throws in the towel and re-shoots the scene. No angst. He just does it.
I had some issues with the book. The interviewer, Mr. Lax, is not as probing as I would have liked, and a lot of his questions are repetitive. But, all in all, this is a great peek into the mind who made one of my favorite films of the seventies (Manhattan), and then almost thirty years later -- knocks 'em dead -- with Match Point and Barcelona.
Bonus: 1/14/10 Eguiders just posted this rare interview with Woody Allen on The Tonight Show circa 1966.