For filmmakers that are just starting out, it is always of great interest to learn about the road that their idols traveled to get to where they are today. Inspiration can come from both consuming art and from learning about it. A particularly interesting figure in recent film history is Quentin Tarantino. He is one of the most recognized directors worldwide, his unmistakable style has been greatly praised and heavily bashed, and his films usually evoke a strong opinion (be it a positive or a negative one!).
Whether you like him or not, one thing that always stands out both in his interviews and in his films is his incredible love for cinema. His homages to tens (maybe even hundreds) of films are evident throughout his work.
“I steal from every movie ever made.”
Tarantino himself has said that he was not a very good student as a kid. He did, however have a growing interest in cinema from a very early age.
“Something stopped me in school a little bit. Anything that I’m not interested in, I can’t even feign interest.”
Cinephilia is a proper diagnosis to describe his condition. It has it’s roots in his childhood, and became acutely potent during his job at the Video Archives store during the 1980’s. Here is an excerpt from Tom Roston’s book I Lost It at the Video Store:
“ I found Video Archives in Manhattan Beach and I thought it was the coolest place I had ever seen in my life.
[In 1985] the owner asked if I wanted to have a job there. He didn’t realize he was saving my life. And for three years, it was really great. The case could be made that it was really too terrific. I lost all my ambition for the first three years. I stopped trying to act and trying to direct.
I could definitely push the stuff that I liked, or what I thought was interesting and challenging. For the most part, I tried to gear it for the customer. A housewife comes and, say, she wants something. I am 24 and she’s 54, so I’m not going to try to give her Eraserhead or Forbidden Zone or some kung fu movie. If she likes Tom Hanks? I am not going to steer her toward Bachelor Party, but I could very well steer her toward Nothing in Common. “Have you seen Nothing in Common with Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason?” I was pretty good that way.”
As far as advice goes, here’s some tips that QT has shared over the years in various interviews:
“Trying to make a feature film yourself with no money is the best film school you can do.”
(This is actually a philosophy that many of our favorite directors have followed. Paul Thomas Anderson, for example spent his tuition money on his marvelous first short film, Cigarettes and Coffee (1993).)
“When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.'”
Quentin has stated that he only plans to make ten films. The Hateful Eight was (logically) his eight (another homage – to Fellini and his 8 1/2 (1963)). As for his future, here’s how he imagines it:
What about the violence in his films – often a target for criticism?
““Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.”
“Sure, Kill Bill’s a violent movie. But it’s a Tarantino movie. You don’t go to see Metallica and ask the f*ckers to turn the music down.”
“What if a kid goes to school after seeing Kill Bill and starts slicing up other kids? You know, I’ll take that chance! Violent films don’t turn children into violent people. They may turn them into violent filmmakers but that’s another matter altogether.”