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Old 03-24-2020, 08:34 PM
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Popular Directors Who Important Work Was Outside of Directing?


But preferably, still movie related.

I was about to turn my computer off, but thought of this while I was finishing up a documentary on George Stevens and it sprung up this idea. I haven't given it much thought, but the first example was Martin Scorsese's work on restoring movies.
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Old 03-24-2020, 08:40 PM
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George Miller (Mad Max, Babe: Pig in the City, The Witches of Eastwick, etc.) is actually Dr. George Miller; he was a physician before his filmmaking career took off.
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Old 03-24-2020, 09:09 PM
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I don't know if it's too close to directing, but many directors were excellent writers also. The best example being Billy Wilder, who stumbled as a fledgling reporter into screenwriting and became director, one of the greatest, still (co)writing many of his films.
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Old 03-24-2020, 09:15 PM
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Too late to edit: there are of course also some directors who are also great actors: who is Clint Eastwood? A famous actor or director?
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Old 03-24-2020, 10:21 PM
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Jack Cardiff – Outstanding Technicolor cinematographer who became a generally undistinguished director. He returned to his former profession after directing The Mutations (1974), a film curiously unmentioned in the otherwise fine documentary, Cameraman: The life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010).

Harold Clurman and Max Reinhardt – famous stage directors who (co-)directed one film each.

William Cameron Menzies – Art director turned director; first one to win an Oscar in Art Direction (1927).

Orson Welles – As well-known in the theater and radio as in cinema. Also helped sell no wine before its time.

Woody Allen and Roman Polanski – directors now better known for events in their off-screen lives.

Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan – two directing credits, but better known in some other field (stamp collecting?)

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg – the film and non-film-related activities of both have long since eclipsed their impacts as directors.
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Old 03-24-2020, 11:40 PM
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Barry Sonnenfeld - a talented cinematographer before he became a mediocre director
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Old 03-25-2020, 12:41 AM
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Gordon Parks directed The Learning Tree, Shaft, Shaft's Big Score, and a few other popular movies, but his most important work is as a photographer. He also was a musician and composer, author, and painter.
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Old 03-25-2020, 12:52 AM
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George Lucas and Steven Spielberg – the film and non-film-related activities of both have long since eclipsed their impacts as directors.
Specifically, in Lucas's case, even beyond creating one of the industry's most popular and commercially-successful franchises in Star Wars, he was also responsible for the founding of three companies which had huge impacts on motion picture production: Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar, and THX.
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:57 AM
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Norman Mailer directed a couple of films, but they were in no sense popular.

Diane Keaton directed some films, plus TV episodes (including Twin Peaks)

Ida Lupino was a successful actress of the 40s, best known for her role opposite Bogart in High Sierra. She also directed seven films and over 30 TV episodes.
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Old 03-25-2020, 08:11 AM
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Howard Hughes and airplanes
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Old 03-25-2020, 08:55 AM
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I was going to say George Lucas for the fact that he has help make the home movie watching experience as good as it currently is.
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:02 AM
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Merian C. Cooper

Quite accomplished beyond directing a popular monkey movie.

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Merian Caldwell Cooper (October 24, 1893 – April 21, 1973) was an American aviator, United States Air Force and Polish Air Force officer, adventurer, screenwriter, film director, and producer. Cooper was the founder of the Kościuszko Squadron during the Polish–Soviet War and was a Soviet prisoner of war for a time. He was a notable movie producer, and got his start with film as part of the Explorers Club, traveling the world and documenting adventures. He was a member of the board of directors of Pan American Airways, but his love of film always took priority. During his film career, he worked for companies such as Pioneer Pictures, RKO Pictures, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He is also credited as co-inventor of the Cinerama film projection process. Cooper's most famous film was the 1933 movie King Kong. He was awarded an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1952 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:15 AM
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Specifically, in Lucas's case, even beyond creating one of the industry's most popular and commercially-successful franchises in Star Wars, he was also responsible for the founding of three companies which had huge impacts on motion picture production: Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar, and THX.
Huh. I don't know why, but I always thought that ILM was a pre-existing effects company that Lucas hired to do the effects work on Star Wars. I had no idea that he was directly involved in their creation.
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:29 AM
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I don't know if it counts as "important work" but my first exposure to Peter Bogdanovich was as Tony Soprano's psychiatrist's psychiatrist. For that matter, I don't know if he counts as a "popular director", but I just watched Paper Moon for the first time a few days ago and it was very good.
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:30 AM
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Huh. I don't know why, but I always thought that ILM was a pre-existing effects company that Lucas hired to do the effects work on Star Wars. I had no idea that he was directly involved in their creation.
I recall reading about the production of Star Wars, and the fact that, at a certain point, 20th Century Fox was extremely anxious, as Lucas had burned through a large proportion of his budget in setting up ILM, without (at that point) having actually filmed any footage for the movie.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 03-25-2020 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:44 AM
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I don't know if it counts as "important work" but my first exposure to Peter Bogdanovich was as Tony Soprano's psychiatrist's psychiatrist. For that matter, I don't know if he counts as a "popular director", but I just watched Paper Moon for the first time a few days ago and it was very good.
Bogdanovich was a well-respected film critic and wrote critical studies of Orson Welles, John Ford, Howard Hawks, and John Ford before he decided to go into films. He also fits as a popular director, with The Last Picture Show winning several Oscars and having success with What's Up Doc? and Paper Moon.
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Old 03-25-2020, 10:01 AM
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Albert Lamorisse. A French filmmaker, best known for the short film "The Red Balloon", which he won an Oscar for. I imagine a lot of people remember this film, as it was a pretty popular school viewing choice in the 70s and 80s at least, but I'm guessing pretty much everyone is at least aware of the boardgame Risk, which he also created.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:17 AM
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Francois Truffaut is famous for directing films like The 400 Blows (and sequels) Jules and Jim, Fahrenheit 451, and Day for Night (Best Foreign Film Oscar). Like Bogdanovich, he started out as a film critic and a noted proponent of the auteur theory.

Jean-Luc Godard also was a critic promoting the auteur theory before switching to directing.

Last edited by RealityChuck; 03-25-2020 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
I don't know if it's too close to directing, but many directors were excellent writers also.
And, of course, many directors started out as actors. For example, Ron Howard, Rob Reiner, and Penny Marshall were all sitcom stars before they became acclaimed film directors.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:26 AM
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Nora Ephron was a well known magazine and newspaper writer before becoming a director.
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Old 03-25-2020, 12:35 PM
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Francois Truffaut is famous for directing films like The 400 Blows (and sequels) Jules and Jim, Fahrenheit 451, and Day for Night (Best Foreign Film Oscar). Like Bogdanovich, he started out as a film critic and a noted proponent of the auteur theory.

Jean-Luc Godard also was a critic promoting the auteur theory before switching to directing.
Out of curiosity, have you read "cahiers du cinema"? I haven't (but I did love 400 Blows)... I prefer Robert Bresson, who I think is heads and shoulders above the others.
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Old 03-25-2020, 12:51 PM
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But preferably, still movie related...
Director Peter Hyams has done the cinematography in most of his films, which is unusual.
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Old 03-25-2020, 01:19 PM
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Woody Allen and Roman Polanski – directors now better known for events in their off-screen...
Although it’s largely forgotten now, if you talk to knowledgeable comics or students of the genre many will cite Woody Allen as one of the most influential stand up comics in the 20th century.
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Old 03-25-2020, 01:56 PM
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Out of curiosity, have you read "cahiers du cinema"? I haven't (but I did love 400 Blows)... I prefer Robert Bresson, who I think is heads and shoulders above the others.
Never read them, though I did read Hitchcock/Truffaud

In the film world, Bob Fosse was a very successful director (Cabaret, All That Jazz, but on Broadway, he was a legendary choreographer. He also danced a little.
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Old 03-25-2020, 02:10 PM
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Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan – two directing credits, but better known in some other field (stamp collecting?)
I would much rather listen to Bob working on his stamp collection than singing.


(I came in here to say "Opie Taylor!" but I was too late...)
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