Jeff Nichols is not a director because he studied movies. He’s a director because he makes them. His fourth feature Midnight Special, out today, is proof of that. And after four movies, he’s learned that the best way to learn how to create films is to trust your instincts, even if you don’t know what you’re doing.

“I think I would’ve done really well in the 1950s or 1940s in the film industry. I think I would’ve gone out to LA, I think I would’ve studied under other directors and tried to find some ladder to climb up. But that’s not the world we live in now,” Nichols says. “And if I have any advice for people it’s, ‘Go write something; go direct it. If that’s what you have a desire to do, go do it.’ If the movie stinks, just put it on the shelf and try to do it again.”

Try what? Well Nichols, for example, doesn’t necessarily care about plot or endings. What he cares about it is “taking emotion and transferring it to the audience.” Making a good movie, then, just means taking a feeling and getting it through all the trials of filmmaking. And that’s just one of his bits of advice for success. Find out more about the writer-director’s evolution from first-time director to auteur in the video above.


How Director Jeff Nichols Went From Rookie to Auteur in Just 4 Films