Quentin Tarantino was named Icon of the Decade at the 10th Empire Awards and is indeed an icon in the film industry with his highly stylized movies that never fail to mesmerize the audience.
In his 30 years as a filmmaker, Tarantino has directed 33 films including the award-winning Pulp Fiction (1994), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Django Unchained (2012), and The Hateful Eight (2015).
From a mere movie fan to a Hollywood legend, Tarantino created his own unique mark in the film industry with his movies that feature different layers of reality. Unlike most filmmakers, Tarantino prefers to deliver unique nonlinear storylines which critics call, the “Tarantino Effect.”
Below, we’ve put together a list of our 57 Quentin Tarantino quotes to help level up your own filmmaking skills.
Quentin Tarantino Filmmaking Quotes
When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, “No, I went to films”
I don’t believe in elitism. I don’t think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience.
If you just love movies enough, you can make a good one.
I have loved movies as the number one thing in my life so long that I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t.
Movies are my religion and God is my patron. I’m lucky enough to be in the position where I don’t make movies to pay for my pool. When I make a movie, I want it to be everything to me; like I would die for it.
I just grew up watching a lot of movies. I’m attracted to this genre and that genre, this type of story, and that type of story. As I watch movies I make some version of it in my head that isn’t quite what I’m seeing – taking the things I like and mixing them with stuff I’ve never seen before.
I loved history because to me, history was like watching a movie.
If you have the passion to do it, and you do it and it doesn’t work out – I worked for 3 years on a 16mm movie that became nothing but guitar picks. And I was very disappointed when I realized it wasn’t any good. But it was my film school – and I actually got away really cheap. When it was all over I knew how to make a movie.
I couldn’t spell anything. I couldn’t remember anything, but I could go to a movie and I knew who starred in it, who directed it, everything.Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.
Everything I learned as an actor, I have basically applied to writing.
As a viewer, the minute I start getting confused, I check out of the movie. Emotionally, I’m severed.
Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, you can read almost as a piece of literature, but I still had to figure them out [before shooting]. It’s not for sure that I’m going to pull them off. There is a “finding it” in the course of making it. But with Hateful Eight, it was right there. I mean, if I had those actors and we did it in a little theater on Santa Monica Boulevard, 99 seats, it would kill, it would be terrific.
Tarantino Quotes on Directing the Movie
Trying to make a feature film yourself with no money is the best film school you can do.
When you’re filming something on film you’re not recording movement, you are just taking a series of still pictures. But when shown at 24 frames a second through a light bulb it creates the illusion of movement. So thus as opposed to a recording device, when you’re watching a movie, a film print you are watching an illusion, and to me that illusion is connected to the magic of movies.
When I’m doing a movie, I’m not doing anything else. It’s all about the movie. I don’t have a wife. I don’t have a kid. Nothing can get in my way… I’ve made a choice, so far, to go on this road alone. Because this is my time. This is my time to make movies.
I see the movie in my mind. Before I make the movie, I watch the movie. I’ve got a genuine vision. That’s how I see it.
I want to top expectations. I want to blow you away.
I steal from every movie ever made.
I am the captain of the ship, and they have to follow my orders as far as that’s concerned. But when it comes to getting the best out of them in any given scene or performance, then I’m at their disposal. Because it’s not about getting my way, it’s about making them comfortable and getting the best out of them.
My movies are painfully personal, but I’m never trying to let you know how personal they are. It’s my job to make it be personal, and also to disguise that so only I or the people who know me know how personal it is. Kill Bill is a very personal movie.
[on media criticisms of violence in his movies] Sure, Kill Bill is a violent movie. But it’s a Tarantino movie. You don’t go to see Metallica and ask the fuckers to turn the music down.
In the ’50s, audiences accepted a level of artifice that the audiences in 1966 would chuckle at. And the audiences of 1978 would chuckle at what the audience of 1966 said was okay, too. The trick is to try to be way ahead of that curve, so they’re not chuckling at your movies 20 years down the line.
If you want to make a movie, make it. Don’t wait for a grant, don’t wait for the perfect circumstances, just make it.
I’ve been making movies for 20 years, and as great as some of those decisions I made in the first ten years were, I probably wouldn’t make them again. What I mean is, I really liked the scripts I wrote, and I really liked my characters, but I wasn’t over-enamored, and I wasn’t that precious about them. Back then, I got much more excited by cool casting. I liked the idea of taking an actor I’ve always liked but wasn’t being used much anymore and putting him in the movie and showing people what he could do. But I don’t feel that way anymore. Now it’s all about my characters. I actually think my characters are going to be one of my biggest legacies after I’m gone. So I have no obligation whatsoever other than to just cast it right.
If there is something magic about the collaborations I have with actors it’s because I put the character first.
Emotion will always win over coolness and cleverness. It’s when a scene works emotionally and it’s cool and clever, then it’s great. That’s what you want.
Quotes on Writing and the Screenplay
I’ve always considered myself a filmmaker who writes stuff for himself to do.
My ritual is, I never use a typewriter or computer. I just write it all by hand. It’s a ceremony. I go to a stationery store and buy a notebook – and I don’t buy like 10. I just buy one and then fill it up. Then I buy a bunch of red felt pens and a bunch of black ones, and I’m like, ‘These are the pens I’m going to write Kill Bill with.
To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.
I’d see a scene in a movie, and I’d just remember it. Then I’d go home and I’d write it from memory. And anything else I couldn’t remember, or anything good I came up with in the meantime – I’d add it to the scene.
I always write these movies that are far too big for any paying customer to sit down and watch from beginning to end, and so I always have this big novel that I have to adapt into a movie as I go.
When I’m writing something, I try not to get analytical about it as I’m doing it, as I’m writing it.
It’s not only dialogue, it’s also mood, situation and mise en scene. But I have no problem relying on dialogue. It’s one of the reasons I can direct my material better than anyone else, because I have a confidence in my material that no one else would.
Novelists have always had complete freedom to pretty much tell their story any way they saw fit. And that’s what I’m trying to do.
A writer should have this little voice inside of you saying, “Tell the truth. Reveal a few secrets here.”
Most of it should be subconscious, if the work is coming from a special place. If I’m thinking and maneuvering that pen around, then that’s me doing it. I really should let the characters take it. But the characters are different facets of me, or maybe they’re not me, but they are coming from me. So when they take it, that’s just me letting my subconscious rip.
Whatever’s going on with me at the time of writing is going to find its way into the piece. If that doesn’t happen, then what the hell am I doing? So if I’m writing Inglourious Basterds, and I’m in love with a girl and we break up, that’s going to find its way into the piece.
If I really considered myself a writer, I wouldn’t be writing screenplays. I’d be writing novels.
As a writer, I demand the right to write any character in the world that I want to write. I demand the right to be them, I demand the right to think them and I demand the right to tell the truth as I see they are.
There are a lot of bad screenplays so if you write a good screenplay people are going to respond to it.
[on writing] I go where the character and scenario takes me. With Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) I started to write a female martial-arts revenge movie, but that’s not what came out. With Reservoir Dogs (1992), I wanted to write the best heist film ever and you never saw the heist. With Inglourious Basterds (2009), I enjoy the war-mission subgenre but I want to forward it, make it bigger, broader, more artistic.
I am a writer. That’s what I do. It’s a writer’s job not just to write about himself but to look at the rest of humanity and explore it – other people’s way of talking, the phrases they use. And my head is a sponge. I listen to what everyone says, I watch little idiosyncratic behavior; people tell me a joke, and I remember it. People tell me an interesting story in their life, and I remember it.
Don’t write what you think people want to read. Find your voice and write about what’s in your heart.
Tarantino on Film Music
I’ve always thought my soundtracks do pretty good, because they’re basically professional equivalents of a mix tape I’d make for you at home.
I’m a big collector of vinyl – I have a record room in my house – and I’ve always had a huge soundtrack album collection. So what I do, as I’m writing a movie, is go through all those songs, trying to find good songs for fights, or good pieces of music to layer into the film.
Tarantino on the Film Business and Hollywood
It’s very important that every movie I do makes money because I want the people that had the faith in me to get their money back.
When you had to go and convince people and get the money to make a movie. There [are] some hurdles that aren’t bad to go through. There was a filtering out process. Not every movie needs to be made. Not every movie should be made.
Digital presentation is just television in public; we’re all just getting together and watching TV without pointing the remote control at the screen.
I’m not a Hollywood basher because enough good movies come out of the Hollywood system every year to justify its existence, without any apologies.
As far as I’m concerned, digital projection is the end of cinema. The fact that most films aren’t presented in 35 mm means that the world is lost. Digital projection is just television in cinema. I’m very hopeful that future generations will be much smarter than this generation and realize what they lost.
There’s a parenthetical downside to it that is completely dwarfed by the upside. The upside that exists today, filmmaking can be a democratic process. In which other people, other than rich white men, can make movies.
Movies are not about the weekend that they’re released, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s probably the most unimportant time of a film’s life.
I don’t believe you should stay onstage until people are begging you to get off. I like the idea of leaving them wanting a bit more.
Recommended Quentin Tarantino Books
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Quentin Tarantino: The iconic filmmaker and his work (2019)
Conversations with Filmmakers Series: Tarantino Interviews (2013)
Quentin Tarantino Quotes Final Words
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