Lessons Ridley Scott Has Taught Me about Life, Art, and Cinema

Ridley Scott: one of my favorite film directors of all-time.

Personal favorites:

Why I love Ridley Scott

  1. Strong female characters (I personally am pro-feminism // my mother is one of the biggest inspirations in my life)
  2. His ability to create transformative, engaging “worlds” — which spark your imagination, and sense of awe for the universe/unknown.
  3. His phenomenal cinematography, and beautiful aesthetics in his film
  4. He has perfected the balance of commercial-success and artistic-aesthetic beauty
  5. How productive/prolific he is: Never satisfied, always making new films, while not taking himself too seriously.
  6. His optimism for technology and the future.

More quotes that I found inspirational from him below:

On faith and creation

‘I’m really intrigued by those eternal questions of creation and belief and faith. I don’t care who you are, it’s what we all think about. It’s in the back of all our minds.’

‘Just stare up at the stars at night, and you’ll have those corny thoughts like we all do. How can you look at the galaxy and not feel insignificant? How on earth can we be it? It doesn’t make sense. … It doesn’t matter how much faith you have or don’t have. I just don’t buy the idea that we’re alone. There’s got to be some form of life out there.’

Never stop making

‘And anyway, it’s only movies. To stop me I think they’ll have to shoot me in the head.’

‘Do what you haven’t done is the key, I think.’

Go on new paths

‘I think if I’m going to do a science fiction, I’m going to go down a new path that I want to do.’

Search for new frontiers!

‘In science fiction, we’re always searching for new frontiers. We’re drawn to the unknown.’

‘I think, at the end of the day, filmmaking is a team, but eventually there’s got to be a captain.’

Keep evolving and switching gears

‘One of the problems with science fiction, which is probably one of the reasons why I haven’t done one for many, many years, is the fact that everything is used up. Every type of spacesuit is used up, every type of spacecraft is vaguely familiar, the corridors are similar, and the planets are similar.’

‘Gladiator is one of my favorite adventures because I really loved going into the world. I loved creating the world to the degree where you can almost smell it.’

‘I’ll reshoot a corridor 13 different ways, and you’ll never recognize them.’

‘That’s part of the policy: To keep switching gears.’

‘When you’re at a certain point in your time — age, that is, when you’re older– you start to realize that, actually, what you leave behind you does count, and so you start to become fundamentally aware of your own destiny, which sounds very grand. It’s not grand at all, actually.’

‘I used to agonize over what to do next, but now I’m making a movie a year. It’s insane, but it’s only a movie after all. You just hang in there, and occasionally you might make something which you can call art..briefly.’

Engage your audience

‘I’m a yarn-teller. My job is to engage you as much as I can and as often as I can.’

‘As a filmmaker, deep blacks are essential, and in my experience, no technology captures those attributes as well as Plasma.’

Sources of inspiration

‘Stanley Kubrick’s “2001” was the door that opened up the possibility of science fiction for me. Everything else up to then was fine, but didn’t quite work for me.’

‘I think Phil Dick was particularly interesting in that, first of all, he was a very modern man and a very modern thinker, but I don’t know what demons drove him.’

‘I’ve seen some of James Cameron’s work, and I’ve got to go 3D.’

‘I tend to watch a lot of lower-budget movies to find out what’s doing down there and find out who’s coming up.’

‘”The Man in the High Castle” is one of Dick’s most imaginative and captivating works, and certainly one of my favorites.’

‘From time to time, there are people in the film industry who appear on the horizon with a unique vision. South African director Neill Blomkamp is one of those rare people.’

‘If you go back and look, a completely underrated film is “Quest for Fire.” That was one of the most genius, simplistic but incredibly sophisticated notion of what it was. The evolution of that was just fantastic.’

‘I watch a lot of “National Geographic.”

‘I like a film such as “American Beauty”, and I like “Spider-Man”.

Watching cinema

‘In my view, the only way to see a film remains the way the filmmaker intended: inside a large movie theater with great sound and pristine picture.’

‘I don’t go to the cinema often anymore — I’d rather just pop in a disk and get the biggest monitor you’ve got, and if the quality is superb, I can watch a film, and if I don’t like it I can pop it out.’


‘The great film editor is not a cutter, he’s a storyteller, right?’

‘When you’re in the editing room, the dangerous thing is that it becomes like telling a joke again and again and again. Eventually, the joke starts to not be funny. So you have to be careful that you’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water.’


‘I always shoot my movies with score as certainly part of the dialogue. **Music is a dialogue. People don’t think about it that way, but music is actually dialogue. And sometimes music is the final, finished, additional dialogue. Music can be one of the final characters in the film.’


‘I don’t get attached to anything. I’m like a good antique dealer. I’m prepared to sell my most valuable table.’


‘Your landscape in a western is one of the most important characters the film has. The best westerns are about man against his own landscape.’

‘I’ve gradually realized that what I do best is universes. And I shouldn’t be afraid of that.’


‘People say I pay too much attention to the look of a movie but for God’s sake, I’m not producing a Radio 4 Play for Today, I’m making a movie that people are going to look at.’

‘Perhaps because of my background as a graphic designer, I’m drawn to rich and beautiful colors.’


‘A hit for me is if I enjoy the movie, if I personally enjoy the movie.’


‘Cast is everything.’


‘When you’re doing a big movie, you’re gone for 10 months to a year.’

Don’t worry about ‘consistency’

‘My career seems to be a career of non-specific subjects which are all over the place.’

It’s never too late

‘I started late. I didn’t make my first movie until I was 40.’

Channeling your ego in a positive way

‘The ego is there, but I’m learning to channel it.’


‘I try to make films, not movies. I’ve never liked the expression “movie”, but it sounds elitist to say that.’


‘People have no idea how physically tough doing a film is.’

Optimism in technology

‘Technology continues to bring us wondrous advances in filmmaking to improve how we view movies.’

‘The 3D world allows you to engage even more with a film because you’re somehow drawn into the landscape or the universe of that scene. Even when it’s two people talking at a table, you feel like you’re a third party.’


‘Sacred texts give you specific depiction of God, so for centuries, artists and filmmakers have had to choose their own visual depiction.’

Avoid inertia // Keep flying!

‘I think there’s nothing worse than inertia. You can be inert and study your navel, and gradually fall of the chair. I think the key is to keep flying.’

Female empowerment

‘I’m used to very strong women because my mother was particularly strong, and my father was away all the time. My mother was a big part of bringing up three boys, so I was fully versed in the strength of a powerful woman, and accepted that as the status quo.’

‘I think there are a lot of men who feel they’re being emasculated by having the woman be in charge; I’ve never had that problem.’


‘I’m fundamentally a positive person. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing some of the insane movies that I do.’

Make stuff for yourself!

‘I don’t make films for other people; I make films for me.’

Ignore critics

‘Once, I got slaughtered after “Blade Runner” by Pauline Kael: three pages of slaughter. I was so offended, I would never read any more press.’

‘The key thing is you can be the only person, your own critic.’

Make stuff that will be seen!

‘I didn’t want to go down the route of spending a year of my life making a movie that would never be seen. I may as well go down a route making a film that a lot of people will see, which is the whole idea behind cinema.’

Just put the paint on the canvas!

‘You just don’t know when you get all the paint across the canvas how it will turn out. When you step back after you’ve finished, you say, “This one is not so good. This one is good.”‘


Cinematography and life lessons:

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