AFI's Star Teachers: When Spielberg and Hitchcock Taught Directing

6:30 AM 10/6/2017

by THR Staff

The Harold Lloyd Master Seminars have been bringing masters and students together long before James Lipton did.

Courtesy of AFI

Robert Altman, Bernardo Bertolucci, Mel Brooks, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Federico Fellini, Martin Scorsese — scores of cinematic geniuses have given guest lectures at AFI over the past 50 years and answered questions from classrooms full of future cinematic geniuses. THR was given access to the archives for a few choice highlights.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

  • Alfred Hitchcock

    Courtesy of AFI

    Hitchcock lectured in 1970, teaching Suspense 101. "Four people are sitting around a table talking about baseball. … Very dull. But tell the audience there's a bomb under the table, and the whole emotion of the audience is different."

  • Billy Wilder

    Courtesy of AFI

    The Oscar-winning filmmaker's lecture in 1978 focused on the importance of directors paying attention to the script. "It's not important for a director to be able to write," he told students. "But it is very important that he knows how to read."

  • Jane Fonda

    Courtesy of AFI

    Fonda told students in 1985 that she'd just been sent a script about a woman raped in front of a cheering crowd in a Boston pool hall. "I think I'm going to have to say no," she said. "I'm scared it's titillating, that it's going to encourage [rape]." Jodie Foster ended up with the part in The Accused and won an Oscar.

  • Robert De Niro

    Courtesy of AFI

    "A lot of times the writer doesn't know much more about the character than you do," De Niro said of acting when he was a guest lecturer in 1980, just before filming King of Comedy. "Then you have to just go on your own because you know he doesn't know. In other words, it's up to you as an actor to make these details work."

  • Steven Spielberg

    Courtesy of AFI

    "I suffered through elementary school, high school and college as a wimp," 29-year-old Spielberg told students in 1975. "I can't fix cars — making movies is the only thing I know how to do."

  • Quentin Tarantino

    Courtesy of AFI

    "My advice," Tarantino told students in 2017, "is to make the movie you want to see. A whole lot of films have been made. What's the movie we haven't seen because you haven't made it? Make that movie."