Marshall Neilan, silent film director, gave this interview in a 1925 Edition of Photoplay Magazine.
Q. What are the essential qualifications of a director
A. The ability to convince producers that you are a better director than your pictures show you to be.
Q. How can this be done?
A. Easily. It is being done every day. Read a book on self confidence and salesmanship.
Q. How should a director dress?
A. On his first picture, decently. His dowdiness should increase in direct relationship to his fame until he makes one of the ten best pictures of the year, when he will return to the garb which he wore as a property man.
Q. How should a director act in public?
A. Like a nut or like an owl. Both methods have proved successful. By no means act normal. Producers are convinced that no normal being can be a director.
Q. How do you distinguish a director from mortals?
A. By the number of people to whom he does not speak.There was once a director who became so great that he forgot his wife’s first name.
Q. When a producer asks you the name of your best picture what do you tell him?
A. The next one I am about to do for him.
Q. What kind of car should a director drive?
A. A car as radically different in design from a taxicab as possible.
Q. How many different kinds of directors are there?
A. Two kinds – those that make artistic pictures and those whose pictures pay.
Q. What should a director read?
A. For useful information, the Police Gazette. For publicity purposes, the classics. For personal enjoyment, his own press notices.
Q. What should a director write?
A. Thoughtful articles on the art of directing.
Q. What should a director really know?
A. Enough to hire a good continuity writer, a good cameraman and a good assistant.
Q. How should a director direct?
A. That depends on the importance of the visitors on the lot who happen to be watching him.
Q. Who is the greatest director of them all?
A. I am a modest man.