Words matter. These are the best Whit Stillman Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
A lot of people in the film industry are fatalists who think a worthwhile film will always achieve its destiny, and the films that aren’t worthwhile won’t. It’s all sort of pre-determined, etc. And I don’t think that’s true at all.
I thought I was going to make bigger films for mass audiences. And I wanted that. I actually had in mind a James-Bondian thriller.
I think that, in terms of mainstream storytelling, the rebel gets off way too easy. We’re way too hard on the insiders and way too soft on the outsiders.
Sometimes, people who are very fastidious about what they’re going to do in their work are not very fastidious in their private life. I’m like that. I love it when people do really nice things around me, but I don’t have time to do it for myself. It’s very hard for me to even buy a new pair of trousers.
I read one Jane Austen in college and didn’t like it at all and told everyone how much I disliked it. I read ‘Northanger Abbey’ sophomore year in college and hated it. I didn’t read good Austen until after college, maybe a couple years out.
I’ve learned that I really want to shoot short films on a short schedule. There can be very good films that run 110 minutes, but 90 minutes is beautiful.
It’s really important to have subjects that people all over the world are familiar with, and the Disney films are really great that way.
The usual key to getting films made seems to be a producer’s terrier-like determination not to let it go. Unfortunately, such producers often seem prone to sinking their claws into mediocre projects.
There are bad preppies and bad priests and bad humanitarians. Any group can have its bad apple.
I love writing novels, but I’m very fearful about writing something from absolute scratch. I kind of don’t have the time to write something from scratch. I think when my knees completely give out, and I can’t make films anymore, I would try to write novels from scratch.
I think sometimes it’s the things you don’t like that give you inspiration.
I remember when I was trying to do ‘Metropolitan,’ in breaks I would read a page of two of Jane Austen as a palate-cleanser.
I always wanted to direct and write a movie, but I thought that I didn’t really have it in me. I tried to write fiction and humorous short stories, and some were considered successful, but it was always a huge effort for a small reward. I was always intimidated by the process.
When you’re doing the work, film and TV are exactly the same. TV is just film in reduced pieces.
What I find remarkable is that so much of the 18th century literature that I read is more accessible than reading your alternative weekly from ten years ago. People really aspired to write clearly.
I feel that if you want to make films, you have to be willing to make it without a fee. You get a deferment, I guess.
I love making cheap films. I really do. What I’ve found is that I work better when it’s both a fairly low budget and a short schedule. It focuses the mind, and it’s a better atmosphere.
I fell for a Spanish woman and followed her to Spain. We got married there, and then I got involved in the Spanish film industry and got the material for ‘Barcelona.’ It was my way of breaking into the film industry.
A brief experience with a Radcliffe girl got very bad very quickly. I was so destroyed by it that I left and went to Mexico for a semester, where I have cousins. I learned how to speak Spanish, which was really important for my life. It was wonderful going to Mexico, learning another culture and a language.
I find it preferable not to have public opinions about anything. It’s good for me to shut up.
My theory in the ’90s was that I didn’t want to take a Jane Austen book I loved and reduce it to a 90-minute movie. The Emma Thompson-Ang Lee ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was beautiful, but other ones, I didn’t think justice was being done. It’s not a slam dunk to adapt these books.
Paris is a Roach Motel for top American journalists: They check in, having won the plum foreign posting, but never leave.
So much of artistic creation is just exclusion. It’s not creating things; it’s just excluding things that really aren’t going to be helpful.
I don’t think you change from the time you’re 16 until you die. Maybe your body changes, and you have different experiences, but I think you become a fully conscious soul with full abilities. Souls are eternal, and if you keep your marbles until you croak in your 90s or your 100s, you’re the same.
I learned that you have to say that you’re a filmmaker. You’re not a screenwriter; you’re not a director for hire. You’ve got to take charge. You’re a filmmaker, and you’re going to make a film.
Really, having a show freely available online is like having your book in the library. It’s wonderful; it’s ideal.
I remember trying to write at 1, 1:30 A.M., and just sort of falling asleep. And I think that was actually a good creative state for weird ideas. I shifted to a morning schedule once I had two kids, and I still found that if I slept badly, I actually had better ideas.
I’ve gotten to really, really like being back in the States. It’s so easy being in your own country, and I really like Americans – typical American towns and provincial college towns are my ideal place to be.
I kind of put people from the past up on a pedestal; I don’t think, in a lot of ways, that we’re at their level.
I really like working with people again and again, and I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it. Because you already know them, and you know how good they are.
I can fake decent penmanship, but generally, it’s really just terrible. And, unfortunately for me, maybe fortunately for the reader, it’s very often illegible. If I get an idea, and if I do remember to write it down, which is rare, I write in such a way that I can’t read a letter.
The dull externals of the screenwriter’s working life are well known: We are the people taking up too much table space at cafes.
I’m very troubled when editors oblige their film critics to read the novel before they see the film. Reading the book right before you see the film will almost certainly ruin the film for you.
That’s why I hate the outlines and treatments, because all you get are cliches. If you put things down on paper as your plan, it’s very hard to get those ideas out of your head and do something better.
Some critic complained about how many small films are released in New York… it annoyed me. Those small films that are lucky to get two weeks are often my favorite films of the year.
I remember going to one party of this preppy, bourgeois crowd, and there was some obnoxious character there, really bad news, and saying, ‘Oh my God, so the caricature you always see in films actually exists.’
Happy is the small business that can hire additional employees besides the proprietor; rare is the indie-film enterprise that can be happy in this way. The norm is an unpaid principal with no employees between productions.
The only way to end up in the perfect future is to invent it yourself.
There’s certain key dance crazes that are just so much fun – wouldn’t that be a great thing to do, to invent a dance?
I think one thing that makes me delay projects more than other people is, I see this silver lining in a turn-down. Maybe if I just wrote a script and then pounded my head against all the doors, I would be shooting more films.
Coming out of university, one of my obsessions was that in the novels I was reading, they seemed to be portraying a world that had a social fabric. People knew each other in ‘War and Peace.’ They went to all the same balls. These were societies with tightly wound, woven, social textures.
I didn’t realize how limiting an R rating is. I made ‘Disco’ as a cautionary tale for 14- and 15-year-old girls, and those girls were not allowed to see the film by their parents.
Producers have a tendency to put you in a pigeonhole: ‘What does this white, middle-aged preppy know about 1960s Kingston?’
So much of selling a film in the industry is about creating a fulcrum where all the pressure comes to bear, and something seems suddenly valuable and approved by an audience. It’s amazing how people could pick up tons of films on the cheap, but they don’t because they wait until everything is laid out for them.
I’m very concerned about the countries bordering Russia. But let’s stay off that stuff.
I think one of the saving illusions of the film business is everything seems like it’s about to happen. It’s always about to happen. It’s only looking back that you see the wasteland.
I don’t like the word ‘perfectionist,’ because it’s self-flattering. It’s tooting your own horn and implies that you actually can achieve perfection. I prefer ‘particularist.’
It’s a challenge for any writer to write beyond what he knows. You get material, adapt it, and do the best you can with it.
Making a show is such a long process. You go through a TV production house that will commission scripts, and if they like what you’ve written, they take it to a network and sell it to them. It has always felt very far away from something that’s actually real.
My guilty pleasure is watching the Investigation Discovery channel.
One of the downsides of money is if there’s no money, there are very few real jerks who are attached to your project. And if there is money, you do attract some very difficult, unhelpful people.
I have to embrace the fact people find me divisive, but I find it remarkable. I was very disturbed by the hatred ‘Damsels in Distress’ received.
The great thing for me is how Hitchcock uses guilt so well. He implicates the spectator in the character’s field, and you really feel it, and there’s incredible relief when it comes out right – if it does come out right.
I identify entirely with Jane Austen’s point of view, on everything.
I like things that are sort of comic and humorous rather than satirical.
Oscar Wilde was sort of my first love as a young reader. And then I went on to love Jane Austen’s wonderful – this sort of comedy coming from her. I mean, all of her books are comic.
You have to constantly work on your script if it needs it. You don’t accept, ‘Oh, I did a draft and…’ No, it’s your responsibility to work on the script as much as possible and make it better and better.
Coming out of college, back to New York, where I didn’t really know that many people, I thought our world was very atomized.
When people are telling stories on screen, you can show the reactions of people, play it off those reactions, and it can be fun. But when it’s someone just giving an opinion on things, even if the opinion is kind of interesting, that is potentially deadly. It has to be really quick.
You can be an American or an Englishman or Canadian and be a Parisian. It’s a very admirable culture, and people want to identify with it.
I’m anti-verite. I think the verite style is a completely false thing. Most things are false to arrive at a truth; verite is falsity without acknowledging its falsity.
When you’re trying to force things in a script, it seems like it’s getting somewhere, but it isn’t real or interesting. All the bad material you’ve written becomes an albatross around your neck. So I really don’t like writing a lot of bad stuff, I prefer to just keep narrowing it down to stuff I think is solid.
I’m the ayatollah of the Jane Austen fan base! I want to lead the fan base, not be attacked and devoured by the fan base.
I don’t think there’s anything cliche feminine about Jane Austen. And, anyway, her earliest champions were Sir Walter Scott and the Prince Regent.
Paris is the destination for brokenhearted American women. I think men go there and have their hearts broken, but women come there with their hearts broken.
What frustrates me a lot about some aspects of filmmaking is people thinking everyone is really dumb and that we have to make everything really obvious.