Paul Thomas Anderson on Why He Dropped Out of Film School.What happened was, I walked into this class, and this teacher said, “If anyone is here to write Terminator 2, walk out, just get out of the door.” And I thought well that’s just not a good way to start. What if I do want to write Terminator 2? What if someone sitting next to me wants to write Terminator 2? He was sort of instantly saying “We write serious films here,” you know. Terminator2 is a pretty awesome movie.
So there was an assignment to write, you write a page that has no dialogue in it…you show a character trait through action, with no dialogue. I had read this great script by David Mamet, which was Hoffa…and there was a great scene…where Danny DeVito is driving along…and it shows what he’s going through by the method he uses to keep himself awake while driving, which is he lights a cigarette…and he let’s it burn down to his fingers to keep him awake. And it’s just so simple, and perfect, and lovely, and it’s Mr. Pulitzer Prize himself, David Mamet. So I took that page, and I handed it in. And it got a C+…There’s a wonderful thing that if you drop out quick enough, you get your tuition back. —Paul Thomas Anderson
Happy birthday, Paul Thomas Anderson!
Previously on Cinephilia and Beyond:
Paul Thomas Anderson claims that everything he knows about directing he learned from John Sturges’ commentary on the Bad Day at Black Rock LaserDisc. This is an exclusive, it’s never been released on any DVDs of the film, it stayed on the Criterion LD for ages — until it was ripped a while ago. So the only way anyone could ever hear this is if they had a LaserDisc player. Well, not anymore.