"If You Want To Direct, Direct!" - Guillermo del Toro's Advice To Aspiring Filmmakers!

By Srikanth Kanchinadham. Posted on November 01, 2015

Guillermo del Toro's name is synonymous with horror & fantasy and the odd mixture at the cross-section of these genres. An avowed fan of horror, he bought his first set of scary books at the age of 7, when most kids are afraid to spend a night alone at home. He owns a massive museum like house called Bleak house, where surrounded by horror memorabilia, skeletons, paintings and figurines, he and his set of writers work on ideas that terrify audiences.

Growing up, del Toro was fascinated by Masters like James Whale, Mario Bava, Alfred Hitchcock, and horror writers like H.P.LovecraftForrest J Ackerman.

The director's first experience was when he learned about makeup and effects from The Exorcist's Dick Smith while making making Super-8, 16 mm, and 35 mm short films. He eventually worked as a makeup supervisor for nearly a decade in his own company, Necropia. The director's debut, Cronos, came in 1993, and since then he's established himself as one of the leading proponents of thrill & gore with films like Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth (which won 3 Oscar's), Pacific Rim & Crimson Peak.

In an exclusive video with Big Think, the director was asked, what advice he has for aspiring filmmakers. His answer is truly motivating and one that encourages every emerging filmmaker to go out and start directing. Just watch the video right here and be inspired:

Here's what the director said:

"You know, when anyone approaches me and says "I want to be a director," I always tell them, then you should be a director and don't say, "I'm going to be..." because you can direct good or bad but you can direct from your iPhone, from your cell phone with your sister's cousin's video camera with a web cam.  Right now, except in the most abject circumstances, most people can get a hold of an image audio/visual generating machine and they can be directing and then realize that they are already directing.

Directing doesn't mean any more and shouldn't mean any more directing feature films.  I think... as I said, with series like "Breaking Bad" I was not only amazed at the way it was written, but the way it was staged on camera.  It was a really well-directed series.  And video games also can do that.  And I think that as long as you have minimal access to any media you should be a director if you feel like you want to.  And the advice I feel is that, it's always better to answer through your work the things you don't like in a media, in a piece of media.  If you dislike the movies that are being made, make your own.  Show the world what you want to do, what you think this medium should be.  And I find that much more creative than simply putting it down and complaining about it.  It is a more active, fascinating role to take.

So the advice is that if you want to direct, direct.  And even easier: if you want to write, write.  You now, I think that writing is the only... one of the only things that can be done with very little resources and even if you die and you were unpublished, you still have a chance.  You know, it's truly... you cannot do that with directing.  You need other people, you need a little bit of help, you need at least an actor in front of the camera, you know.

But I think these are what I say is go and do it.  And you know, when they say, "I would like you to do this for me"—and I produce a lot of first-time filmmakers, but I don't produce all the first-time filmmakers that approach me—and I say, "Look, if I say, no, and you give up, I'm sorry to tell you, but it's the wrong job for you."  Because you live with rejection for decades sometimes as a director and you end up making the movie you want to make.  So, if I say no, that doesn't mean that I'm right or I'm wrong, you just say, "Fuck him, I'll show him later.  I'm gonna make it and that fat bastard is gonna have to say I was so wrong and hit himself in the head because he didn't do it."  And I think that's the thing to do is like, show us.  Don't tell us.  You know? Do the things. And if you do them wrong, what you do on your own terms, that's how I define success; failing on your own terms."


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