The stunning talent of Quentin Tarantino is unshakable. Over a run of ten imperious films, the director has cast himself as the ultimate modern filmmaker. Naturally rendering his work with a unique style, vicious dialogue and groundbreaking visual storytelling, Tarantino, famously, didn’t attend any film school. In fact, Tarantino dropped out of high school at the age of just 15 and opted for work at a cinema, as well as a video store later in life. This was his education.
As a result, the budding director developed a database of film knowledge, an index of inspiration and references that would later inspire his work from script to screen and turn him from film nerd to legendary filmmaker. The influence of 1970s Samurai cinema and Hong Kong’s particular brand of crime movies is clear throughout Tarantino’s filmography, from his debut feature Reservoir Dogs to his most recent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. But what advice would the director give to any young filmmaker looking to make a good movie? Luckily we have the answer.
The notes on how to “make a good movie” are perhaps to be expected. Tarantino’s formal education in film is minimal, and he has always stood by his decision to turn his back on traditional classrooms in favour of something more arresting.
“When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them, ‘no, I went to films,'” the legendary director once famously said. Sitting in cheap seat cinemas and curating his style would eventually make Tarantino a cult hero but, without the drive and desire to replicate the incendiary moments he saw on the big screen, he would never have got off the ground.
It’s a notion he shares in the clip below when posed the proposition of dishing out advice for youngsters looking to make a good film. His response said it all: “You don’t have to know how to make a movie. If you truly love cinema with all your heart and with enough passion, you can’t help but make a good movie. You don’t have to go to school, you don’t have to know what lens… y’know a 40 or a 50… fuck all that shit… crossing the line… none of that shit’s important.
“If you just truly love cinema with enough passion, and you really love it, then you can’t help but make a good movie.”
Passion seems to be the biggest driving force for Tarantino. He also noted in a subsequent interview that defeat should never put you off course: “If you have the passion to do it, and you do it and it doesn’t work out — I worked for three years on a 16mm movie that became nothing but guitar picks. And I was very disappointed when I realised it wasn’t any good. But it was my film school — and I actually got away really cheap. When it was all over I knew how to make a movie.”
There’s nothing traditional about Quentin Tarantino. Whether it is his films, which have always toyed with public expectation, his education, which was gained mainly from cinemas and video stores or, indeed, his advice for young filmmakers — Tarantino has always believed that making art should be extraordinary and propelled by one’s passion for the project.
It’s something that still guides him some 30 years on from his debut and should guide any budding filmmaker too.