Filmmaking Tips You Can Learn from Sylvester Stallone


Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone has been enjoying a successful acting career. He has managed to craft several characters that have left an impact in popular culture. Perhaps one of the most notable roles Stallone has ever played is the titular character in the Rocky film series.

The award-winning actor is fresh off his third Oscar nomination for his supporting role in the critically acclaimed movie Creed. But if there is one thing that every fan of his knows, it’s that Stallone does more than acting in a film. He writes, produces, and directs them, making him one of the most prominent figures in Hollywood.

Here are some of Stallone’s filmmaking tips that fans and aspiring filmmakers are sure to enjoy.

1. Never underestimate the underdog


Similar to the character in Rocky, the film itself was pretty much a dark horse throughout awards season. The movie went on to win three out of the ten nominations it got during the 49th Annual Academy Awards including Best Picture. The New York Times even described the film as “a diamond in the rough, a gem,” and it currently sits as one of the most iconic sport dramas in history.

One valuable lesson that all aspiring filmmakers can get from Rocky was that you should never give up on your dreams, even if you start out as an underdog. Stallone lives by that principle himself, as he has worked several odd jobs before getting to where he is today.

2. Regret keeps you going


Stallone gave this powerful statement during an interview with GQ magazine:

“Regrets? There’s tons. That is the fuel that keeps me going. It’s not success, it’s not money. It’s regret. I was on cruise control from ’85 to ’95, and it was my fault. There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds, when I was not doing any original material. I wasn’t directing. I wasn’t writing. That’s not who I am. I wish it was, it’d sure be a lot simpler, but it seems my fate is to be self-generating, produce my own films. I try to direct. That’s why I admire Eastwood. Started as an amateur and became an auteur. I’m sorry I didn’t adhere to opportunities presented, because I could’ve done so many things.”

Stallone added that the result of regrets is setting goals. The reason why we set goals in the first place is to seek out new opportunities after blowing some of our chances. He also does not believe that age should stop you from setting goals for yourself, and states that as long as you have the fiery passion to pursue what you want, then there would be no end in sight.

 3. Don’t dismiss certain film genres


Stallone has an honest answer when speaking to a Q&A session for Time magazine. He was being asked on why modern action films are being looked down upon these days, and he had this response:

“There has always been an elitist attitude toward action films. Good action films—not crappy but real good action films—are really morality plays. They deal in modern, mythic culture. The industry has dismissed that, which I think is a big flaw. Action films have been the cornerstone of this business. Without those escapist films, they wouldn’t be making the so-called important dramas.”

It is not only acting films that have gotten prejudice in the industry, but other genres as well. Over time, filmmakers have proven them wrong by creating compelling movies. Jaws, for one thing, had cemented Steven Spielberg‘s place in the industry as he took the monster movie genre to a whole different level. It only takes the right script, the right timing, and the best characters to make a film that will stand out from the rest.

4. A big budget movie does not assure success


Stallone was a struggling actor when he was cast in Rocky. He was broke and could not find a stable job for himself when he completed the first draft for the movie in a matter of three days. Stallone managed to strike a sweet deal with film production company United Artists, and part of the contract was to have him play the starring role.

Rocky was shot in 28 days, with a budget of just under a million dollars. During its release, the film grossed around $225 million and became the highest-grossing movie of 1976.

5. Making a good movie will inspire a new generation of filmmakers


Forty years after the first Rocky movie hit theaters, Stallone teamed up with up-and-coming director Ryan Coogler to create Creed. This time around, the 2015 film would center around the son of Rocky’s dear friends and former rival Apollo Creed.

Coogler had admitted to being a fan of the Rocky franchise after watching the films when he was younger. His favorite scene had been where Mickey tries to motivate Rocky to get out of his depressed state. The amount of emotions conveyed by actor Burgess Meredith was indeed one of the most iconic throughout the franchise. By creating Creed, Coolger has managed to continue the legacy that Rocky had left audiences with. This should be enough to inspire other filmmakers to do the same.

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