Sam Mendes is best known for directing American Beauty (1999), which earned him the Academy Award for best director. He also directed the James Bond movie Skyfall (2012) as well as musical stage productions of Cabaret and Oliver! At a recent Manhattan theater event, he shared his 25 Rules For Directors. Here are some of the those that are most appropriate for film and video directors. The complete list is available at Vanity Fair Magazine where it was originally published.
1. Always choose good collaborators. It seems so obvious, but the best collaborators are the ones who disagree with you. It means they’re passionate, they have opinions, and they’ll only ever say yes if they mean it.
8. Confidence is essential, but ego is not.
10. Buy a good set of blinkers. Do not read reviews. It’s enough to know whether they’re good or they’re bad. When I started, artists vastly outnumbered commentators, and now, there are a thousand published public opinions for every work of art. However strong you are, confidence is essential to what you do, and confidence is a fragile thing. Protect it. As T.S. Eliot says, teach us to care, and not to care.
13. There is no right and wrong, there is only interesting, and less interesting.
14. Paintings, novels, poetry, music are all superior art forms. But theater and film can steal from all of them.
17. Learn when to shut up. I’m still working on this one.
19. Please remember the Oscars are a TV show.
20. Get on with it. Robert Frost said, “Tell everything a little faster.” He wasn’t wrong.
25. Never, ever, ever forget how lucky you are to do something that you love.
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