You have to be passionate.
When a script is ready, I commit to it. That’s one of the problems with me. I usually develop my own material, and it takes a while, so therefore I am not directing as much as other people. And it’s frustrating. You want to be working as much as possible, but I can only do the things I get passionate about.
Don’t believe in “no.”
Don’t believe it when they so “no.” Because you’re going to hear “no” 50 times more than you’ll hear “yes.” All you need is one yes. The Bill Goldman line that “nobody knows anything” is absolutely true. And I think Ray is the ultimate case of everyone saying no—and ultimately they never said yes.
Desire leads from passion to obsession.
The way I work is that if I have a desire and urge to do something that I believe in, and people say no, it becomes a passion. And if they continue to say no it becomes an obsession. And the way films get made is for a filmmaker to not accept that word no and continue to move forward.
Listen to the voice that gnaws at night.
When you’re young and impressionable, you are vulnerable. Because you’re trying to put something forward and you don’t even know if it’s the right thing. But what you do realize is that they certainly don’t know. And sometimes you come to realization that “you know what, that isn’t such a good idea.” But when something catches hold and you believe in it, and it continues to gnaw at you at night, then you’ve got to just keep pressing forward.
Make films for the audience.
What I make a film for is an audience—I really do. The fact that an audience will be able to see my movie is what I’m really going for and I’m really thrilled with. Let them decide. If they go and really like the movie—we haven’t seen that many reviews yet (of Ray), we’ll see what the critics say. But the reality is that I’m very proud of it and I’ll take what I can get. MM