Roger Corman Filmmaking Advice

In a great new interview with Syfy, Joe Dante, who helmed GremlinsThe HowlingInnerspace and more, sat down to talk about his long, eclectic career, and passed along some invaluable advice he received from B-movie mastermind Roger Corman. Read the important Roger Corman filmmaking advice passed on to Joe Dante below.

Director and producer Roger Corman may have primarily trafficked in B-movies, but his legacy casts a long shadow over the film world as we know it. A plethora of filmmakers got their start working on Corman’s shoestring budget films – directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, and Joe Dante. Dante sat down recently with Syfy for an excellent new interview and was nice enough to reveal some sage filmmaking advice Corman passed along to him:

“Roger Corman gave me a piece of advice that he gave to everybody who works for him. He’d always take you out before you started shooting and he would give you a little tutorial about what to do and how to do it. His first piece of advice, most important, was sit down a lot, because it’s a difficult job. So I took that advice, but I realized the movie was so cheap that I was making, there were no chairs.”

If you were expecting some earth-shattering filmmaking advice there, Dante’s statement might seem a bit too simplistic, but the filmmaker continues: “It was always practical advice. It was never aesthetic advice. [Corman’s] aesthetic advice was something like, figure out how long it takes to make it great, and then figure how long it takes to make it good, and then figure out how long it takes to get an image. And then go for the image.”

Personally, I love how simple yet sensible this advice sounds, and just goes to show there’s more than one way to make a film. Some filmmakers may be obsessive about setting up shots, while others can boil it all down to “make it good, and then figure out how long it takes to get an image.” As for Dante, he would like to pay his mentor Corman back with a biopic. “I’ve got a movie about Roger Corman making The Trip which I’ve been trying to get funded for about 10 years, called The Man With Kaleidoscope Eyes,” the director says in the interview, adding: “[W]e’re slowly zeroing in on a financier who will put up the money if we can get the budget down.”

Someone with money, please fund Joe Dante’s Roger Corman movie, ASAP, because that sounds incredible.

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