So a few days ago im watching the Hollywood Reporter’s Director’s Roundtable. This was pre Oscars and it had acclaimed directors like Ang Lee, Gus Van Sant,David O Russell,Quentin Tarantino, Tom Hooper and Ben Affleck.
As i watched it, something occurred to me that hadn’t before. Ben Affleck was sitting in the midst of critically acclaimed directors, most who had started or already had successful films before or while he was still building his career as an actor(Van Sant even directed him his Oscar award-winning screenplay “Good Will Hunting”)
These directors were making critically and commercially acclaimed films; Three Kings,Pulp Fiction,Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,Finding Forester , while Ben was the being punchline of comedians and late night show hosts, and was known more for who he was dating and his bad films.
Most of them have been directing for close to 20 years, most since the 80’s or early 90’s already had major respect as directors. BEN, with just three films , not only sits in their midst and shares equally with them, but is nominated in the same category as some of them, with less than 10 years as a director. Amazing right?(Ben went on the win the DGA for Outstanding Directorial Achievement and Best Motion Picture at the Oscars)
Some young directors tend to get worried or anxious when they haven’t made a feature film yet, especially when they see friends and colleagues gathering acclaim for theirs. But , going by Ben’s directing career, it’s not how soon, but how well.
Between 2007 and 2013 he’s made three stellar films,(that is after 20 yrs as an actor) and has been approached to direct many more. He’s living the dream of many directors in that he is spoilt for choice, he chooses his projects and is in high demand for others. With just three film, he has more respect and clout, than many others in Hollywood who have been around for 20+ years , with 30+ films, whose names we’ll never know or films we can’t remember. When it comes right down to it, at the end of the day, a director will be judged by their body of work, when the novelty of how young he started wears off. Besides, Ridley Scott, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and others are still directing well into their 60’s- 80’s.
Starting early is great, but not the be all and end all. If you don’t make your debut feature in your twenties or very early thirties, it’s not the end of the world, (Affleck was 35 when he made Gone Baby Gone,Clint Eastwood was 41 when he debuted with “Play Misty for Me)what matters is what you make , when you actually do make it. As the Bible says “the race is not for the swift”.
What do you guys think? Any examples of other directors that stared later than most, but proved to be equal or even better than those that started before them? PLEASE leave a comment below,Thanks.