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  1. Quotes
  2. Anton Corbijn
  3. 22/10/2017 (Sun, 22 Oct)

“Directing film is the hardest thing I have ever done.”

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Quotes by Anton Corbijn

  1. ‘Control’ had to do with my own life a lot, and that’s why that seemed to be a film I could be the director of, because I had an emotional attachment to the whole story. And because of that experience, I feel that I can try other films. I didn’t set out to become a director.
  2. A lot of scripts that I was given I didn’t feel were right for me, because I didn’t feel anything for them – I didn’t feel like I was going to change in life and start directing.
  3. Analog is more beautiful than digital, really, but we go for comfort.
  4. Apart from photography and music videos, I also do graphic design.
  5. Directing film is the hardest thing I have ever done.
  6. Film was something that I didn’t see as a step up from music videos, though obviously, music videos, the fact that you work with a crew and a film camera, are the closest to film I’ve ever been. That is the only schooling I’ve ever had.
  7. For many years I wanted to do a film, but I never had the courage to clear my desk and say, ‘OK I’ll take a year off and do a film.’
  8. For me N.M.E. was a very big thing. When I first came to the United Kingdom I started taking pictures for them and I became their main photographer for five years, and that’s really been the basis of everything I’ve been doing since.
  9. Generally my focus has been on people who make things, whether it’s writers or directors or painters or musicians.
  10. I am a village boy, and Amsterdam for me was always the big town.
  11. I didn’t make music videos in order to make a movie. Music videos were the goal for me, so it was never a step to something else. I approached it seriously.
  12. I didn’t really know how to make a film when I made ‘Control’. I had to create my own language, just as I did when I started taking photographs. I never studied either one.
  13. I do have an ego, but I acknowledge the help I get.
  14. I don’t have lights, I don’t have assistants, I just go and meet somebody and take a photograph. That’s really basic, and that’s how I used to work when I was 17 or 18 in Holland.
  15. I don’t like fast editing.
  16. I don’t want to continue to do what I did when I was 20. I would like to continue to develop myself and not continue to hang around with bands.
  17. I don’t want to knock photography, and I don’t feel that film is up there but photography isn’t. I think they’re next to each other really, you know. There’s an incredible strength to a still picture. Or there can be an incredible strength to a still picture that can outlive you. That can outlive a film.
  18. I feel a responsibility to myself, and not so much for the world at large. Because of my Calvinistic upbringing, I was trained to think that what you do has to have a purpose.
  19. I had no agent, and I was getting approached by so many people that I tried to escape for a while because I couldn’t believe that world. Photography is not an industry, and suddenly an industry came to me, so I sort of had to accept it in the end and get an agent.
  20. I happen to take photographs, and they happen to be used for a lot of things, but they’re not really made to order. They’re paid for, but they’re not made for order. I’ve never really done real commercial work.
  21. I have never understood models. I find it really hard to find beauty in that or to discover beauty because the beauty was so obvious.
  22. I have such a love of good music that I find even melancholic music uplifting. Maybe I’m a rare breed.
  23. I love body language.
  24. I never really enjoyed getting a portfolio together then sending it out; whereas, putting up the website is quite an enjoyable experience. The net’s just a much faster and more modern way to distribute things, and you have to embrace it.
  25. I only make storyboards for action scenes. Once you make a storyboard, you don’t film; it can be a stiff move.
  26. I photograph artists, and some of them are very well known, but if you ask the average man on the street, ‘Do you like Anselm Kiefer?’ He would stare at you with a blank stare, because these are not celebrities. They are celebrated in a specific circle.
  27. I think Amsterdam is to Holland what New York is to America in a sense. It’s a metropolis, so it’s representative of Holland, but only a part of it – you know, it’s more extreme, there’s more happening, it’s more liberal and more daring than the countryside in Holland is.
  28. I think if you don’t feel passionate about the first movie you’re doing, in the end the project will lack something because you don’t have enough experience to make the movie something special.
  29. I wanted to do a film for a while, but I never found a script that I felt I was going to be the right person for; because if you’ve never made a film, you’re not taught how to make a film, and you feel like you lack skills.
  30. I wanted to make a film as an artist, and it’s going to have to find an audience, you know. I don’t know how big the audience will be.
  31. I wanted to move away from Holland for my work because I felt that things would be better for me in England. But when I heard Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’, that pushed me towards making the move and making it real. I met them within 12 days of moving to England.
  32. I’m not educated as a filmmaker, so it’s quite a jump for me.
  33. I’m not famous; I am simply very well-known to certain people. Famous is something different.
  34. I’m not totally blind to the fact that I like people to see my work, but if it’s not something I would enjoy seeing in a magazine, then I think I shouldn’t be making it. I think that I don’t represent only myself, I represent more people; I mean, if I like it, then I think more people will like it because I think I’m quite a normal guy.
  35. I’ve always thought photography was a bit of an adventure, so to come home with the film, develop it, then look at the results has more of a sense of excitement.
  36. I’ve finally become an old guy.
  37. I’ve gotten used to not looking too far into the future; it’s best when you can begin each day anew.
  38. If you make something with love and, you know, passion and you tell a real story, I think it will always find an audience somehow, you know.
  39. If you’re an artist, it’s OK to put your money into your art. The advantage, in hindsight, is that you become the film, and the film becomes you; you breathe it.
  40. In 1979, I moved to England and photographed Joy Division and Bowie and Beefheart. At that time I got images that I felt had that special, well – power is a big word to say – more like intimacy and ambition that outlasted the photo shoot. I felt that they would have a longer life.
  41. In England, I’m already labeled a rock photographer, which is a little insulting, because I’m not a rock photographer at all.
  42. It’s so easy for people to stick a label on you, and then that taints everything you touch.
  43. Mandela is just the eternal man. You want that man to be around forever. It’s the closest thing we have to God, I think. He’s the father of mankind, almost.
  44. My first pictures are from 1972, and my first proper camera dates back to 1973. During the first year I used my father’s camera. It had a flash on it, which I don’t like, but I didn’t know anything about photography back then, so it was just what I did.
  45. My life changed incredibly when I moved from Holland to England.
  46. My photography changed from being more documentary-like to arranging things more, and that came into being partly because I started doing music videos, and I incorporated some things from the music videos into my photography again, by arranging things more.
  47. My world is much bigger than music, and that’s why I always fight the ‘rock’ label.
  48. Once you make decisions, you can’t go back, but in photography, that process can continue. With film, you have to eliminate all the possibilities and make the one possibility work the best for you, so you have to become very creative with the direction you’ve chosen.
  49. The only advantage of the CD is that you have a booklet that can tell a bit of a story, but the little covers are just boring. I love vinyl, and I have loads of it. It’s the same thing as digital photography versus film photography. It’s a quality thing.
  50. The really simple approach to photography is a great balance to making the films.
  51. There are some elements of digital photography that I don’t really like, such as the fact that you see the results immediately.
  52. There’s a lot about records that you cannot feel from a CD.
  53. There’s only one music video that had an emotional impact on me, and that’s ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash. That’s exceptional. There is no music video I can think of apart from that one that really reaches you inside.
  54. When I was younger, I’d buy a vinyl album, take it home and live with it, and I think that attachment’s largely gone for the file-sharing generation.
  55. When you make a movie, you know you’re making a long-form thing, so the visuals are different than for a video where it has to be more obvious or in your face, I think, a little bit.
  56. With a film, you try to keep your vision in it. I think with ‘The American’ and ‘Control’ I managed to do that.
  57. With photography, you are lucky if you get people to look at your pictures at some point. There’s no formal way to show them.
  58. Working with actors is something I’ve never done before. I find it tremendous. It’s hard work.
  59. You always want to come back with an image that’s interesting visually, and you hope to get something from the person you photograph that’s different than other images you know of these people.
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