From westerns to fantasies, war stories to outer space adventures, and historical re-enactments to futuristic travels, there are hundreds of action stories and filmmakers who do them well. Immensely popular with viewing audiences, these movies are often the top moneymakers for studios, production companies, and directors themselves. These filmmakers often become big names in Hollywood, and as a result, have the luxury of being selective about the projects they work on.
While John Ford directed films in several genres, it's the western for which he's best known. Ford's powerful imagery of the beauty of the land combined with his clean, simple direction makes his films the epitome of the American western. He also had a long-standing film relationship with John Wayne, whom he directed in more than twenty films including The Quiet Man, The Wings of Eagles, Stagecoach, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. Ford's style of filmmaking has influenced many directors, and he won four Best Director Oscars for The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), and The Quiet Man (1952).
Named “Most Influential Person of His Generation” by Life magazine in 2000, Steven Spielberg is often called the most powerful figure in the film industry. From his early action-adventure movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Jurassic Park to the more emotionally charged stories of Schindler's List, Amistad, and Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg has shown that his filmmaking brilliance is not limited to a particular style of movie.
How much did Steven Spielberg earn for directing the award-winning movie Schindler's List?
Nothing. Spielberg asked that he not be paid for doing the epic World War II saga, which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1993.
Spielberg has been nominated six times for Best Director and has won the honor twice, for Schindler's List in 1993 and Saving Private Ryan in 1998. His films often deal with lost innocence or seemingly ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Spielberg has arguably become the premiere producer/director of Hollywood, and his films have influenced countless future filmmakers.
George Lucas, a close friend of Spielberg, is also considered to be a film innovator. His films clearly showcase his love of storytelling, and often feature characters who prove that mankind can overcome all perceived limitations.
Lucas began his career with THX 1138, followed by the immensely popular American Graffiti. In 1977, he wrote and directed Star Wars, a film whose enormous popularity spawned two sequels and three prequels. As a result, he created the production company Lucasfilm Ltd., whose subsidiary Lucas Digital Ltd. comprises sound and visual effects subdivisions Sky-walker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic, among the most respected in their fields.
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is a sometimes controversial director, producer, and writer who has had many box office successes, and a number of box office bombs like Finian's Rainbow and the 1984 Richard Gere film The Cotton Club. Coppola is best known for his legendary Godfather trilogy, Patton, Apocalypse Now, and more recently Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Problems have often followed Coppola during his career. Apocalypse Now began filming in 1976 and the film wrapped fourteen months later, rather than following the scheduled thirteen-week shoot that was originally planned. During that time the film's budget almost tripled, making all concerned parties extremely nervous. For all Coppola's efforts, Apocalypse was named Best Picture of 1979. After the enormous financial failure of The Cotton Club, however, Coppola was forced to become a director for hire.
James Cameron is best known for his action movies including the Terminator trilogy, The Abyss, True Lies, and Titanic, and the spectacular special effects he showcases. It was in The Abyss that Cameron first used computer graphics imaging (CGI), and it won the film the 1989 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. In 1997, Titanic won a second Visual Effects Oscar along with awards for Best Picture and Best Director. The most expensive and largest-grossing film to date, Titanic used both CGI and scaled sets to great advantage.