In the Indy film scene, you’re making your first few films and you’re still doing the editing, directing, producing, writing, location managing, catering. Burn out is common, bonds are made and its an experience that can sometimes be called, life altering. Once its finished, its on to booking premieres, marketing and distribution. This is the early career of the Indy Filmmaker and I salute you and your catering!
Once you make the leap to Professional Filmmaker and are making millions of dollars for your writing, directing or producing, how many hats do you then wear? I didn’t think I was the only one to ponder this question… so I looked it up. I wanted to find out if there was some modus operandi (M.O.)
One such filmmaker is an obvious hat collector and a favorite of mine, James Cameron. He’s Canadian and has written/directed some of my favorite films. He wrote The Terminator only to turn around and sell it for $1.00 to Gale Anne Hurd of Pacific Western Productions under the condition he direct it. It was his debut as director and Hurd produced it. They were married from 1985 – ’89. He has been called ‘selfish and cruel’ by some and others he’s referred to as genius, generous to his actors and misunderstood. Other films he’s written/directed are Aliens, The Abyss, The Titanic, True Lies and Avatar. He’s considered the 3rd smartest person in Hollywood. In addition, he’s also produced Terminator 2, as well as many others. Pretty amazing considering he supported his screenwriting career as a truck driver.
Christopher Nolan is another exceptional mastermind. Writing and directing is definitely his forte. Having adapted his brother Jonathan Nolan’s work in Memento, he tasted success as a writer and director. He’s gone on to writing and directing films Inception, Insomnia, the Batman trilogy as well as Interstellar. He is considered one of the most successful writer/directors of this century. He studied English Literature while attending University in London. His wife Emma Thompson has produced all of his films. Quite an amazing duo.
Sofia Coppola also has an extensive hat collection. She’s written/directed Lost In Translation, The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette. In addition to wearing the writer/director hat, she also acts and produces. She’s carried roles in Star Wars – The Phantom Menace, Peggy Sue Got Married, God Father Part III and Rumble Fish, just to name a few. I think she looks great in any hat!
Another amazing Canadian filmmaker that has made her mark and frequents hat stores is Mary Harron. She has written, directed and produced The Notorious Bette Page, wrote and directed American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol. She moved to England at 13 and is Oxford educated. She began her career as a rock journalist and was the first writer to interview The Sex Pistols.
The Coen Brothers love their hats, its pretty obvious. This amazing team made up of Joel and Ethan Coen are responsible for writing and directing some of the most entertaining films of our time. Starting with Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country For Old Men and True Grit. Considering they’re brothers I don’t expect they’ll be parting ways anytime soon.
In my research, I’ve come to find that writers like to maintain creative control through directing and/or producing their own works. Others that have shares in the hat factory are M. Night Shyamalan – Sixth Sense, The Village, Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity, Children Of Men, Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker, Blue Steel, Point Break and Zero Dark Thirty.
There are so many others that I’d love to give credit for taking all the great hats but there really isn’t enough room on this page. Luckily for us, they wear them all with panache and skill. I suppose the Indy filmmaking world is the training ground to see what best fits for you and then honing those skills to be the best you can. If you’re not doing it for the love of films, none of those hats will look good on you.