The Filmmaker Says

Compelling and sometimes controversial words from the visionaries behind the camera

Hot off the Princeton Architectural Press is “The Filmmaker Says,” a collection of quotes from the people who envisioned (and then brought to life) history-making films, from Charlie Chaplin to Kathryn Bigelow to Akira Kurasawa. Their words, compiled and carefully arranged by Jamie Thompson Stern to create a flowing dialogue, are sure to inspire budding film students and avid moviegoers alike.

Stern isn’t new to the movie business; she was previously a senior creative executive at production companies with deals at studios including Castle Rock, Twentieth Century Fox and Universal. She pored over the internet, finding and fact-checking, transcribed hours of DVD extras and spent a fair amount of time at the West Hollywood Public Library, where Stern discovered back issues of cinema magazines with long interviews. “Everyone has a point of view in Hollywood, so there was no shortage of material,” she says. “Movie people are a rather garrulous bunch.” Stern actually whittled 600 collected quotes down to 150 for the book.

“The conceit of the book is that each spread is a conversation between two filmmakers with differing (or sometimes complementing) points of view,” Stern tells CH. “There’s also an overarching throughline to the book (that no one but my editor and I may ever notice) that maps out themes, so the book opens with how to start making films, and moves organically through topics like inspiration, art versus business, censorship, film versus digital, and so on.”

“The topic that I found generated the most strident opinions is the auteur theory,” she continues. “For as many directors who see their films as a direct extension of their all-encompassing vision, there are just as many who see the entire process as a creative collaboration.” No matter which side you’re on, check out the book to hear the hidden gems that Stern has unearthed, like this quote from Warren Beatty: “Making a movie was like vomiting. I really did not look forward to it, but after I did it, I felt better.”

“The Filmmaker Says” is out this month, available in hardcover for $11 from Amazon. It’s the newest book in the “Words of Wisdom” series that also includes “The Architect Says” and “The Designer Says.”

Photos by Nara Shin