Pushing the Envelope
Some filmmakers have the courage to make films that are not mainstream and in some cases are downright controversial. This requires a belief in what you're doing and the ability to convince others that the controversy will play well to an audience. Not everyone can make movies that go against the grain, but those who can do it well often find themselves listed among the great filmmakers of their generation.
D. W. Griffith
Born in 1875, D. W. Griffith began his film career as an actor in silent films, but eventually moved into directing at the then-struggling Biograph studios. Griffith made more than 450 shorts for Biograph, and developed and perfected many filmmaking techniques, including cross-cutting, tracking shots, the running insert, flashbacks, and the closeup. With all that innovation, he wanted to make feature-length films, but when Biograph wasn't interested, he left to pursue feature filmmaking.
D. W. Griffith directed for more than twenty-five years and was honored many times for his innovations in filmmaking. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding his films didn't work in his favor. The racist label he acquired after
In 1915, Griffith released the controversial
Roger Corman is known for creating movies replete with strange characters, social commentary, special effects, and new talent, all filmed in a matter of days on a shoestring budget. Films such as
In 1970, Corman formed New World Pictures, which became the largest independent production and distribution company in the United States After selling New World in 1983, he formed Concorde/New Horizons, where he continues to release successful and inexpensive productions. Corman's studios have been a training ground for directors and actors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, and Dennis Hopper.
Spike Lee is a highly intelligent and talented filmmaker whose movies examine urban life, crime, poverty, race relations, and political issues. Lee doesn't shy away from controversy, and has found himself and his films at the center of a controversial storm more than once. His movies, such as
Quentin Tarantino is an actor, screenwriter, producer, and director whose films often feature bloody violence and nonlinear timelines. Having started out as an independent filmmaker, Tarantino wrote
Born in Taiwan, Ang Lee has become an important contemporary film director. Lee began his filmmaking career in 1992, with a trio of films featuring Taiwanese-American families that explored the differences in traditional versus modern family relationships. In 1995, he struck gold with an adaptation of Jane Austen's
The Girls Club
Traditionally, the film industry has been very male-oriented. Females are commonly associated with the role of producer, but still constitute only a small percentage of directors. Even independently made films are surprisingly male-oriented when it comes to directors. But some women have taken the big leap and have been very successful.
How many women have won the Academy Award for Best Director?
No female to date has won this award. Three women have been nominated: Lina Wertmüller for
Notable female filmmakers include Penny Marshall (