Orson Welles

Filmmakers Whose Work Stands the Test of Time

There are occasionally filmmakers who break all barriers, whose work stands the test of time and continues to captivate audiences and critics even decades later. If you’re looking for a master class in original, timeless filmmaking, check out these filmmakers whose originality stands the test of time and offers experiences that are still relevant, riveting, and righteously entertaining.

Alfred Hitchcock

It’s impossible to have a list of enduring filmmakers without including Hitchcock. His silent film roots allowed him to innovate in the area of visual storytelling by mastering mise-en-scène, captivating use of music, and wise editing.

Hitchcock is perhaps best known for his innovative camera movement, and his knack for persuading audiences to feel as if they are a part of the story through the clever manipulation of perspective through close-ups, long takes, and more.

Click here to read more about why we think Hitchcock’s work will be enjoyed for years to come.

Timeless Hitchcock films to watch asap:

  • Notorious (1946)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • North by Northwest (1959)
  • Psycho (1960)

Akira Kurosawa

Posthumously named “Asian of the Century” in in 1990 by AsianWeek, Kurosawa’s work did more than just put the Japanese film industry on the international map. His superb screenwriting abilities, dynamic style, and innovative techniques went on to influence all of Western cinema, including The Magnificent Seven, a reimagining of Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai. From Americans like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to fellow Asian filmmakers like Hayao Miyazaki and John Woo, countless notable filmmakers have expressed their admiration for Kurosawa’s cinematographic achievements.

Timeless Films

  • Rashomon (1950)
  • Ikiru (1952)
  • Seven Samurai (1954)
  • Kagemusha (1980)
  • Ran (1985)

Steven Spielberg

If there’s one reason Spielberg will be esteemed for ages to come, it’s for his versatility. From intense war stories and terrifying thrillers to adventure movies fun for the whole family, this man has probably done it all — and done it marvellously. While most directors find their niche and stay put, Spielberg’s storytelling prowess has been proven across an amazing range of genres while somehow still expressing his signature style. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love at least one film from this iconic director who, at the ripe age of 71 in of 2018, is still behind the camera.

Timeless Films

  • Jaws (1975)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  • Schindler’s List (1993)
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Spike Lee

This African-American filmmaker began impressing critics and viewers alike with his first feature film “She’s Gotta Have It,” a comedy drama shot in two weeks with a budget of $175,000. When it grossed over $7 million in America, people knew Lee was something special. He has since then delivered several classics that have earned him numerous accolades over the years. Many of his projects are renowned for examining important issues such as race relations, urban poverty, and discrimination even among black communities.

Timeless Films

  • Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Malcolm X (1992)
  • The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)
  • 25th Hour (2002)
  • Inside Man (2006)

Stanley Kubrick

The late, great Kubrick made an impact on the film industry in a way few other directors have. His constant striving for perfection and mastery of the technical side of filmmaking allowed him to craft cinematic experiences that transcended genre and changed everything that followed. Along with working closely and intensely with his writers and performers, Kubrick was also known for requiring as many takes as it took in order to find what he called “the magic.”

Timeless Films

  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • The Shining (1980)
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Francis Ford Coppola

This American filmmaker is responsible for one of the most overwhelmingly praised trilogy of films ever to hit the big screen: The Godfather alone won nearly a dozen Oscars and is #2 in American Film Institute’s list of best American films. The trilogy’s influence inspired the creation of other notable gangster films such as Goodfellas and TV shows like The Sopranos.

Timeless Films

  • The Godfather (1972)
  • American Graffiti (1973)
  • The Godfather: Part II (1974)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Sofia Coppola

The daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia has emerged as one of the most talented female directors of all time. She was the first American woman to win Venice Film Festival’s top prize and receive a Best Director nomination at the 2003 Academy Awards, while also serving as the second woman to win best director at Cannes Film Festival. Her Oscar-winning Lost in Translation a great starting point for film fans to witness Coppola’s impressive ability to balance humor and drama.

Timeless Films

  • The Virgin Suicides (1999)
  • Lost in Translation (2003)
  • Marie Antoinette (2006)
  • The Bling Ring (2013)
  • The Beguiled (2017)

Orson Welles

What’s there to say about Welles that hasn’t been said before? The legendary director changed the game with Citizen Kane, a film ranked by many as the best of all time. The 1941 drama went on to influence even the most prominent directors with its nonlinear storytelling, powerful use of themes and motifs, and phenomenal cinematography. Welles would go on to direct several more films, many of which are also worthy of viewing almost a century later.

Timeless Films

  • Citizen Kane (1941)
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
  • Touch Of Evil (1958)
  • Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Up-and-Coming Timeless Filmmakers

Christopher Nolan

Still arguably near the beginning of his illustrious career, Nolan came into prominence at the turn of the millenium with Following, a neo-noir crime thriller he funded personally. Since then, the English filmmaker has made a name for himself by producing hit after hit, making him one of the highest-grossing directors of all time. His use of nonlinear storytelling and enticing themes surrounding human morality and identity have allowed him to create films that will likely be watched in film classes for a long time.

Timeless Films

  • Memento (2000)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Inception (2010)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Dunkirk (2017)

Catherine Hardwicke

Hardwicke got her start in the business as a production designer, where she was able to study the techniques of skilled directors like Cameron Crowe. She first proved her own directing talents with 2003’s Thirteen, which won six awards and nearly a dozen nominations. Highly successful films like Twilight and The Nativity Story have only helped cement Hardwicke’s legacy as one of the best female directors of all time.

Timeless Films

  • Thirteen (2003)
  • Lords of Dogtown (2005)
  • The Nativity Story (2006)
  • Twilight (2008)
  • Red Riding Hood (2011)

Ava DuVernay

Leading the new generation of great African American filmmakers is DuVernay, who in less than two decades has already made a name for herself behind the camera. This includes being the first black woman to win the Sundance Film Festival’s directing award. She is also the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Golden Golden Globe award and Academy Award for Best Picture. With so many accomplishments at the ripe age of 45, we’re confident that DuVernay’s best work is yet to come.

Timeless Films

  • Saturday Night Life (2006)
  • I Will Follow (2010)
  • Middle of Nowhere (2012)
  • Selma (2014)
  • 13th (2016)

What other directors would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below, and learn more about Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.


8 Masterpiece Films Shot by Directors Under 30

Robert Rodriguez at 1993 Atlanta Film Festival with El Mariachi

Robert Rodriguez (right) at the 1993 Atlanta Film Festival to showcase El Mariachi.

It’s commonly held that you’ve got to hustle for many years to work your way up to the hallowed position of director—and for the most part this is true—but there are a handful of directors who not only achieved success at a young age, but also ratcheted up some of their most career-defining titles before hitting the bit three-oh.

Here are number of superb movies from directors who were under 30 at the time of their release. Some of those listed below even went on to make even more spectacular titles, but the early efforts listed below are well-worth watching in their own right and serve as incredible examples of filmmaking spirit.

Blood Simple (1984)

As we discussed in our Coen Brothers Highlights post earlier in the week, Blood Simple was an amazing start to what would go on to be an amazing career for the duo…though technically, it was only Ethan that deserves a place here as he was 27 at the time. Joel was 30.

El Mariachi (1992)

The first of Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Mexico Trilogy,’ El Mariachi is one of the only movies we can think of which was produced for so little money yet still ended up in the National Film Registry and Library of Congress (Rodriguez raised the $7,000 budget largely by subjecting himself to paid clinical testing).

As a directorial debut, success stories don’t get much better than this (as was covered in the great book about the production, Rebel Without a Crew.)

Citizen Kane (1941)

It’s mind-boggling to think that what is frequently and consistently deemed to be one of the finest movies ever made was created by a director who was not only under 30—Orson Welles was just 26 at the time of Citizen Kane’s release—but also didn’t want to work in film in the first place.

Welles’ heart was dedicated to theatre for most of his early life, and it was only a very lucrative contract that swayed him over to the big screen to create Citizen Kane… and the rest, as they say, is history.

Clerks (1994)

The black and white oddball comedy that put Kevin Smith on the map, who was only 24 at the time and maxing out multiple credit cards in order to make his feature debut. It paid off, and laid the path to further titles in the View Askewniverse canon (including the similarly acclaimed Chasing Amy.)

Memento (2000)

Christopher Nolan got started really young, having earned his first directing (and writing, and producing) credits from the age of 19, honing his craft with a few shorts and low budget film noir feature (Following, 1998), it was his sophomore feature film—the deviously clever, nonlinear Memento—that really set him on the path to the big time. He was 29 at the time of filming.

The Tramp (1915)

While Charlie Chaplin would go on to craft more than a few masterpieces during his reign as the king of cinema’s silent era, it was his sixth release that would come to be considered as his first tour de force.

The Tramp’s titular character would also prove to be Chaplin’s most enduring, and though created by accident while trying on costumes for a previous short, the character evolved beyond simple slapstick for this essential feature outing.

Magnolia (1999)

The first entry on this list so far featuring a director who was already making waves at the time of release, Paul Thomas Anderson’s prior movie Boogie Nights was so successful he was told by studio executives that he could do whatever he wanted for his next film. Two years later and at the age of just 29, he made Magnolia.

American Graffiti (1973)

George Lucas’ work as a director needs no introduction (and nor can it be summed up in a single paragraph), but before his time creating adventures in a galaxy far, far away came two lesser-known titles: THX 1138 and American Graffiti. The former was not successful; the latter, however, became one of the most profitable features in cinema history (with a $200 million box office gross against its $777k budget) and garnered near unanimous praise. Lucas was a few months shy of his 30th birthday at the time of its release.

Learn more about the Film School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

Be A Self Producer And Cast Yourself

Orson Welles in Jane Eyre

Read Orson Welles’ IMDb page and it quickly becomes apparent that he was a man of many hats. He was an actor, writer, director, and producer and he excelled at all disciplines. In fact, for the film Citizen Kane, Welles was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor. The point is, Orson Welles didn’t wait for anyone else to cast him and instead, he made his own work.

The process of self-production is an intimidating prospect for most actors. After all, actors study the art of performance, not the technical side of filmmaking. But despite the complications, self-production is an incredibly valuable skill and one that can advance an acting career. For the individual, self-producing offers creative freedom, the opportunity to work, and exposure that impresses casting directors.

Play Your Dream Role

Every actor has a role that makes them salivate but how often does the opportunity to audition for that role actually come around? Even when the chance to audition comes around, there is no guarantee that the audition will be successful. The unfortunate truth is that actors are dependent on the decisions of others. That is unless they are also producers. Actors who self-produce take control of their own casting and get to choose the role that is perfect for them.

Additionally, a dream role doesn’t have to be something that was written by Shakespeare. More and more self-producers are writing their own projects with roles that are tailored to their personalities. As an actor-producer, artists have the chance to exercise their writing skills which provides a creative outlet when acting jobs are scarce.

Expand Your Skills

If an actor is a player and a director is a coach than a producer is a general manager. Producers have their hands in every part of the production process in both theatre and film. As a self-producer, responsibility increases but so do experiences. Accordingly, actors who self-produce become well-rounded artists with an increased perspective on all aspects of production.

By watching different artists work, actor-producers learn new skills that can be supplemental sources of income. Struggling to find acting work? Well, an adept crew person almost never goes unemployed. Plus, working on sets is the best way to network and make new industry connections. Pretty soon, self-producing actors find themselves working more than auditioning.

Get Cast By Brass

The internet is now the number one resource for casting directors which means the internet is also the number one tool for actors who want to get cast. Billions of people use the internet every day, the exposure available is unrivaled by any other media outlet in history. Websites and mobile apps like Youtube, Instagram, and Vine are now wells of new talent for casting directors.

Self-production is the best way for an actor to showcase their skills on the internet. Any sort of short video, sketch, or talk show can show a casting director that you have experience and charisma on camera. Besides that, if you are able to gain a loyal following, casting directors will take your audience into account.

Take the Wheel

The only person that should be in charge of your acting career is you so take control of your destiny by self-producing your own work. Videos and plays of any size are an excellent experience for larger projects down the road. You don’t have to be Orson Welles to benefit immensely from self-production, although an Oscar nod (or four) would be nice.

Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

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Orson Welles

Orson WellesName: George Orson Welles aka Orson Welles

Essential DVDs: Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Macbeth (1948); Touch Of Evil (1958)

Oscars: Best Screenplay (Citizen Kane, 1942); Honorary Award (1971)

In His Own Words: “I started at the top and worked down.”

“The biggest electric train set any boy ever had,” pronounced Orson Welles in 1940, surveying his new domain — or, at least, that corner of it occupied by RKO, the studio that had lured the 24-year-old wunderkind to Hollywood with the promise of absolute freedom to make his directorial debut in whatever fashion he saw fit. Having conquered both theatre and radio in spectacular style, Welles’ gargantuan ego was inflated to bursting point. He quickly abandoned plans to adapt Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness and opted instead, in a fit of monumental hubris, to launch an all-out assault on one of the most powerful men in America.

That Citizen Kane is an epic tour de force, fully justifying its reputation as the greatest American film ever made, goes without saying. But beyond its cataclysmic brilliance, it encapsulates everything that is so compelling about Welles. He must have known that Kane, a sublime hatchet job on media baron William Randolph Hearst, would bring the temple walls crashing round his ears, but he had the balls to do it anyway. Welles’ superhuman talent was forever wedded to a streak of willful iconoclasm that compelled him to punch the self-destruct button just to hear the sirens wail. Even so, his stature as a filmmaker rests as much on the battlelines he drew against the forces of mediocrity as it does on his supreme artistry. He paid the full price for his audacity. In Kane’s turbulent wake, RKO butchered The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) and Journey Into Fear (1943). They took away his new toy and showed him the door.

A pariah in Hollywood, Welles declined to eat crow. Scorning the iron rule of the studios, he took hired-gun assignments only out of necessity, usually appalling his paymasters with the results. Although recognized now as the masterpieces they are, both The Lady From Shanghai (1948) and Touch Of Evil (1958) went belly up, thanks to Welles’ absolute refusal to compromise.

It’s painfully ironic that of Welles’ many unfinished films, his most cherished was an adaptation of Don Quixote. He spent his exile in Europe vaingloriously tilting at windmills, seizing every scrap of work available to fund his own projects. His ambitions invariably outpaced his means, but his indomitable spirit shows through in the Falstaffian Chimes At Midnight (1966) and the mischievous F For Fake (1975). Even at his lowest ebb, hawking cheap sherry, Birdseye peas and ‘probably the blandest lager in the world’, he still had fire in his belly. Listening to the bootleg of one of these sessions is undeniably sad, but there is something manifestly heroic in this once-towering figure, brought down by magnificent obsession, railing at the quaking tape ops like Lear bellowing into the storm. It’s as if what’s at stake is not a two-minute spot for frozen vegetables but the thing he was permitted to hold in his grasp just once: a work of art that could change the world.