24 Of The Most Brilliant Directors Give EXPERT Advice on Filmmaking [with Infographic]

A film is the artistic expression of the director, and different directors have various approaches to make their films unique and their own. Filmmaking is a tough business, and a few simple words of encouragement from world-renowned directors don’t hurt.

After all, their years of work in the industry gave them the wisdom and expertise that you can’t learn in film school. Here is a list of some words of wisdom from 24 of the best directors.

1. Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock, a London-born director, was known as the “Master of Suspense”. He started his filmmaking career in 1919 and moved to Hollywood in 1939 to create some of the most popular suspense and psychological thriller classics we know today.

In his six-decade career, Hitchcock made more than 50 feature films and received the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in 1979.

Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock, known as a suspense genius, strived to get the audience to be invested in his characters and to put them at the edge of their seats. His style was to make the audience suffer, but give them the pleasure of a good movie.

His mission, as he said, was “To simply scare the hell out of people.”

Quotes/Advice from Hitchcock:

Notable Films:

2. Christopher Nolan

English-American filmmaker Christopher Nolan gained fame for his 2000 independent film Memento. Nolan is known to be a traditionalist, but he also knows when to break cinematic rules to achieve his artistic vision.

Christopher Nolan

Non-linear storytelling is a style that he uses in some of his films, and practical special effects are used only when needed.

Being a self-taught filmmaker, Christopher Nolan has a deep understanding of his craft, as he had to everything himself in order to learn. Nolan has 26 Oscar nominations and 7 awards under his name.

Quotes/Advice from Nolan:

Notable Films:

3. Steven Spielberg

American producer, screenwriter, and director Steven Spielberg is one of the pioneers of the era of New Hollywood. He is one of the most well-known directors in film history and is a co-founder of DreamWorks Studios.


In his four-decade career, Spielberg has created some of the most popular adventure and science fiction films, giving him the honor of being the highest-grossing director in film history.

Spielberg is also known to tackle humanistic storylines in his later films, touching topics such as the slave trade, war, and the Holocaust.

Quotes/Advice from Spielberg:

Notable Films:

4. Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino is famous for his unpredictability, which results in  bloody, violent films with shock value. Tarantino was a film buff and even worked at a video rental store.


He started his career in the film industry independently with the film Reservoir Dogs, which was released in 1992. He, however, gained popularity with his comedy crime film Pulp Fiction.

Tarantino has gained commercial and critical success for his films and has also received industry awards. Named as one of the Most Influential People in the World by Time, Tarantino continues to be one of the most talked about directors in this generation.

Quotes/Advice from Tarantino:

Notable Films:

5. Martin Scorsese

With a career spanning more than 45 years, Martin Scorsese has delivered some of the best films in the movie industry. His works address various topics ranging from gangs and crime to Catholic concepts. Scorsese is part of the New Hollywood era of filmmaking, and he also founded the non-profit film preservation organization, The Film Foundation.


Scorsese has received numerous nominations and awards from film bodies such as the Academy Awards, Emmys, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Silver Lion, Cannes, and the Palme d’Or.

Quotes/Advice from Scorsese:

Notable Films:

6. Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick was an American filmmaker known for creating film adaptations of short stories or novels. His films consist of elaborate set designs, evocative music, and unique cinematography styles. Before starting his filmmaking career, Kubrick was a photographer for Look magazine.


Kubrick was a perfectionist and had good attention to detail, overseeing all aspects of production from writing and direction to editing. Kubrick’s works are considered some of the most important contributions to the film industry in the 20th century.

Quotes/Advice from Kubrick:

Notable Films:

7. David Fincher

David Fincher is a critically-acclaimed director for both film and television. Fincher started in the industry as a production assistant and moved up the ladder to become a visual-effects producer. Later, Fincher worked as an assistant cameraman and worked on films such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Return of the Jedi both produced by Lucasfilm Ltd.

David Fincher

After directing several movies and videos, David Fincher then went on to direct films, his first of many being Alien 3 in 1992.

Quotes/Advice from Fincher:

Notable Films:

8. Francis Ford Coppola

Director Francis Ford Coppola gained attention in the filmmaking industry for his screenwriting for the film Patton, which won an Academy Award in the 1970.

After two years, Coppola again became the talk of the film industry after releasing one of his most famous films, The Godfather, the first movie in a series of three, and the film that gave him his first nomination for Best Director at the Academy Awards.


Coppola’s films in the 1980s and 1990s were praised by both critics and viewers,  and he is one of only eight filmmakers to receive two Palme d’Or awards, which is the highest recognition given at the Cannes Film Festival.

Quotes/Advice from Coppola:

Notable Films:

9. Woody Allen

Playwright and filmmaker Woody Allen has a career that spans five decades. He started as a comedic writer and stand-up comic, but found himself on the director’s chair by the 1960s. His early works were inspired by European art cinema, switching between the comedy and drama genres.


Woody Allen’s breakout movie was Annie Hall, released in 1977. Allen co-wrote, directed, and starred in the movie, and it gained him four Academy Awards, including Best Director.

Quotes/Advice from Allen:

Notable Films:

10. James Cameron

Canadian filmmaker James Cameron is known for large-scale, expensive productions, and his 1984 film The Terminator propelled his position in the film industry. Cameron went on to become one of the most successful directors in Hollywood, creating films that are praised by critics and moviegoers alike.

james cameron

One of his works, Titanic, is the first film in history to earn more than $1 billion. Cameron earned a total of 14 Academy Award nominations for the film.

Quotes/Advice from Cameron:

Notable Films:

11. Tim Burton

Tim Burton, also called “The Master of The Macabre,” started his career in the film industry as an animator and storyboard artist in Walt Disney Productions.

Tim Burton

However, his works did not make it into the final cuts of films he worked on. He then created his own short stop-motion animation film entitled Vincent, and from then on created more films that were screened in film festivals.

Burton’s dark fantasy, gothic direction style made its way into his films, creating some of the best stop-motion animation and live action films that audiences of all ages adore. Tim Burton has garnered several nominations and won a few awards from film institutions.

Quotes/Advice from Burton:

Notable Films:

12. Ridley Scott

English director Ridley Scott is known for his atmospheric visual style with memorable imagery. His commercial breakthrough in the filmmaking world came when his science-fiction film, Alien, was released in 1979. Scott is also widely known for creating critically-acclaimed period films.


With his keen attention to detail and incorporation of innovative production designs, Scott has garnered several awards and nominations from Cannes, the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA, and the American Film Institute.

Advice/Quotes from Scott:

Notable Films:

Want to learn more about film directing? Check out some of our recommended books:

  • The Filmmaker’s Handbook
    A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age: 2013 Edition written by Steven Ascher

  • On Directing Film
    Written by David Mamet where he looks at every aspect of directing—from script to cutting room.

  • On Film-making
    An introduction to the craft of the Director written by Alexander Mackendrick

  • How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck
    Advice to make any amateur look like a pro – written by Steve Stockman

  • Film Directing Shot by Shot
    Visualizing from concept to screen (Michael Wiese Productions) – by Steven D. Katz

13. David Lynch

Director David Lynch is a master of surrealist films that has become his signature style since his first feature film in 1977. His films never fail to mystify the audience. Aside from filmmaking, Lynch has also directed the popular murder mystery TV series, Twin Peaks, which has a large following.


David Lynch has three Academy Award nominations, including Best Director, and has also received a Palm d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival. He has been described as the “Renaissance Man” or modern filmmaking.

Quotes/Advice from Lynch:

Notable Films:

14. Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential filmmakers in the industry. Kurosawa started out as a painter and later became a scriptwriter and assistant director for various Japanese films. His directorial debut was in 1943 in the film Sanshiro Sugata (Judo Saga).


Akira Kurosawa’s body of work gained the interest of the Western film market, which gave him international attention. Kurosawa was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement award by the Academy Awards for his contributions in the world of cinema.

Advice/Quotes from Kurosawa:

Notable Films:

15. Joel Coen

Joel Coen is one-half of the Coen Brothers, a filmmaking duo with his brother Ethan Coen.

The Coen brothers are called genre-busters, creating films in different genres including comedy, romance, adventure, drama, crime, horror, and Western. Joel always creates films jointly with his brother, and together they have been nominated for 13 Academy Awards.


Aside from directing their own films, the Coen brothers have also written films for other directors.

Quotes/Advice from Coen:

Notable Films:

16. Orson Welles

American director Orson Welles worked on stage productions before taking on the big screen. In 1941, Welles’ directorial debut in Citizen Kane made him well-known in the industry, and to this day, it is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.

Orson Welles (1915 - 1985), American actor, producer, writer and director. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Welles’ directing style consists of non-linear narratives, unusual camera framing, long takes, and creative use of lighting. Aside from being a director, Orson Welles is also a famous radio actor and magician.

Quotes/Advice from Welles:

Notable Films:

17. Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson is known for his quirky comedic films with distinct, cinematic visual style. Anderson’s love for making films started at a young age, and he directed Super 8mm movies starring himself.

wes anderson

While attending college, Anderson worked at a cinema as a projectionist, which only pushed him to want making his own movies.

Wes Anderson has been nominated for several Academy Awards and  has a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Quotes/Advice from Anderson:

Notable Films:

18. Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is a director from New Zealand known for directing The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but his name was tossed into the limelight for the film Heavenly Creatures (1994) wherein he was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.

Peter Jackson

Since the success of Lord of the Rings, Jackson remained with the Tolkien franchise, later on releasing The Hobbit.

Quotes/Advice from Jackson:

Notable Films:

19. George Lucas

George Lucas is an American filmmaker known for creating the Star Wars movies. He is the founder of Industrial Light & Magic as well as Lucasfilm. His entry to the film world was through director Francis Ford Coppola, who he met while studying cinematography.

Director George Lucas is shown standing next to a digital movie camera used to shoot, 'Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones,' on the set of the film, in this undated photo. Lucas shot the entire film using digital cameras and hoped to have the film shown with digital projectors in theaters. Studio and theater executives counter that the technology is not ready for mass use and that complex questions remain on setting industry-wide standards, avoiding piracy and financing digital-projection systems, which can cost up to $150,000 for each screen. (AP Photo/Lucasfilm Ltd.)

George Lucas is among the top filmmakers in the industry, with five of his feature films included in the 100 highest-grossing films when it comes to North American box office.

Quotes/Advice from Lucas:

Notable Films:

20. Michael Mann

Director Michael Mann is a film director who has a number of nominations from top film organizations around the world. Many consider Mann one of the top film directors of our time. Many of Mann’s films consist of male protagonists, and his works often end in tragedy.


Michael Mann’s use of visual style and emotional intensity in his films result in masterful pieces that are not easily forgotten.

Quotes/Advice from Mann:

Notable Films:

21. JJ Abrams

JJ Abrams is best known for tackling films in the science fiction, drama, and action genres. Abrams dabbled into screenwriting for films when he was in college, and eventually went on to create several TV series including Lost, Alias, and Fringe.


Abrams continued to write for films and eventually went into directing, his directorial debut being Mission Impossible III, which was release in 2006. Since then, Abrams has achieved great success in making films, his highest-grossing film being Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Quotes/Advice from Abrams:

Notable Films:

22. Ang Lee

Taiwanese-born director Ang Lee moved to the United States to study to be an actor. However, his speaking English was difficult for him, which made him want to pursue directing instead. Ang Lee penetrated the film industry in 1992 with his directorial debut Pushing Hands.


Lee has won several awards, including two Academy Awards for Best Director. He is the only filmmaker of Asian descent to win the Best Director awards from BAFTA, the Golden Globes, and the Oscars.

Quotes/Advice from Lee:

Notable Films:

23. Spike Lee

Spike Lee has received Spike Lee made his directorial debut in 1983 with the film She’s Gotta Have It. Most of Lee’s films tackle race relations, political issues, poverty, and crime.


The film helped launch Lee’s Hollywood career, and he went on to establish his own production company called 40 Acres & a Mule, which has produced more than 35 films.

Lee also won several awards, including the Gish Prize and an Emmy award, and he has also been nominated for an Academy Award.

Quotes/Advice from Spike Lee:

Notable Films:

24. Park Chan Wook

Korean director Park Chan-wook is one of the most popular filmmakers in South Korea, his native country. Park Chan-wook began working as a film critic, writing articles for film journals.


He was inspired to become a filmmaker when he saw Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. He worked as an assistant director before directing his own films.

Park Chan-wook’s films focus on brutality, even gory and bloody at times. He has received several awards from various institutions including Cannes and Berlin Film Festival.

Quotes/Advice from Wook:

Notable Films:

For a more comprehensive guide on film directing – you can also check out Director Secrets: Plan, Shoot & Edit Great Films & Videos on Udemy.

Director Secrets: Plan, Shoot & Edit GREAT Films & Videos

Infographic version of the 24 brilliant directors give expert advice on filmmaking:

Click here to view in full size

2 replies
  1. Marquix
    Marquix says:

    Awesome list! Would’ve added Zemeckis too simply for his work in Contact, Back to the Future and Forrest Gump. Also Jodorowsky after seeing his passion for filmmaking in the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune (though I haven’t actually seen any of the films he made)


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