Famous Directors Who Went To Film School: Where Are They Now?
October 9, 2013
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Attending film school provides more advantages than you might expect. In addition to learning how to make films, you'll meet people working in the field, including some who may go on to be quite famous. Consider these famous directors who went to film school:
Kathryn Bigelow began her career as a visual artist and then studied film at the Columbia University School of the Arts. In the 1980s, she was a model for Gap. She is the first woman in Oscar history to win the Best Director award for The Hurt Locker. Bigelow, whose first feature film, Loveless, starred Willem Dafoe (then unknown), is currently working on an untitled project with screenwriter Mark Boal.
She encourages women, especially, to pursue their dreams and become famous directors, too, saying, "There should be more women directing." She believes filmmaking is a great opportunity to comment on the world we live in.
Ang Lee, who received a master's degree in film production from New York University (NYU), won two Best Director Oscars for his films Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi. He is currently at work on a 3-D movie about the history of boxing.
Lee says his list of favorite films is always changing; one of them is 2001: A Space Odyssey. He is a firm believer in education. "If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can never learn enough," he has said. Lee was 38 years old when he directed his first feature film.
George Lucas studied at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. His first award was first prize in the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival for his short film, Electronic Labyrinth: THX-1138: 4EB. He is best known for American Graffiti and Star Wars, both of which he wrote as well as directed. Star Wars broke all box office records and won seven Academy Awards. He modeled the Star Wars character Chewbacca after his dog, an Alaskan Malamute named Indiana, who was the namesake for the Indiana Jones series.
President Barack Obama honored George Lucas at the White House, presenting him with a National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government. As for his future plans, Lucas says he's going to have fun: "I'm moving away from all my businesses, I'm finishing all my obligations and I'm going to retire to my garage with my saw and hammer and build hobby movies. I've always wanted to make movies that were more experimental in nature, and not have to worry about them showing in movie theaters."
Martin Scorsese, the quintessential famous director who graduated from NYU as a film major, originally wanted to be a priest. Known for such films as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Gangs of New York, he won a Best Director Oscar for The Departed and is currently producing a slew of projects, including a feature film about the life of Frank Sinatra. He is also producing the documentary Life Itself, about the legendary film critic Roger Ebert. Scorsese cast his mother, Catherine, as Joe Pesce's character's mother in Goodfellas, and she improvised her dialogue.
corsese especially loves film students. He says: "At this point, I find that the excitement of a young student or filmmaker can get me excited again. I like showing them things and seeing how their minds open up, seeing the way their response then gets expressed in their own work."
As these directors show, film schools equip students with the tools they need to become successful. And as a film student, if you make the right connections, maybe you'll become a famous director, too!
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons