Nonetheless, you can’t argue that the man found success as a filmmaker. Here’s a quick sample of the films he’s made:
- Forrest Gump
- Cast Away
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit
- Romancing the Stone
And those are just films he directed! Zemeckis has gone on to produce many other well-received films, so when he speaks up about success it’s in your best interests to listen.
There’s one film missing from the list above, however, that is one of the greatest movies to come from the Zemeckis generation of filmmakers: Back to the Future.
Paced with intensity and layered with setups and payoffs, the Back to the Future films are everything fun and exciting about Hollywood at the hand of a great filmmaker.
I am coming at these films with a newly refined vigor after having just purchased the Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Blu-ray and watched the films all over again.
Besides a stunning restoration of the film print, the discs also have a six-part behind-the-scenes documentary series called “Tales from the Future.” In the final part of the documentary, Zemeckis talks about the responsibility of success:
Anytime that a filmmaker’s lucky enough to have made a movie that is successful on all the levels that Back to the Future was successful, it not only changes his life in the industry and it opens doors for him as a filmmaker — of course, it changes your entire life — but what happens is a trade-off.
Because now you are given a gigantic responsibility.
Because now all the people who told you, “You can’t do that. You can’t do that. You can’t do that,” all they say, “Whatever you wanna do! Whatever — it’s all fine. You’re great, it’s great! You wanna make a movie about that… trash can? I think it’ll be, uh, I don’t understand it, but I think it’s probably gonna be a big hit!”
And what happens is that you have to surround yourself with people who you really trust, really good friends, people who are creative soulmates and that’s why I keep my cast and my crew together the way I do because I really do depend on them to tell me when I’m veering off because the system doesn’t tell you “no” anymore.
So, it’s a tremendous gift but it comes with a tremendous responsibility.
I can’t speak from personal experience, but what Zemeckis says seems true on so many levels. How many times have directors created great movies out of nothing only to fall flat when they can get anything they want?
It’s a common theme on this site that “creativity is problem solving” and, with filmmaking, that is especially true. The challenges often breed better ideas, better solutions and force you to think about an issue in multiple ways instead of getting what you want, when you want it, without any thought.
If you like Back to the Future, I highly recommend getting the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray because of the tremendous special features and the movie looks absolutely gorgeous in high-def.
Do you think Zemeckis is right about success? Do you think he has handled success in an admirable way? What do you think about the responsibility a director has once under the spotlight? Let me know in the comments!