Greg Mottola Reminisces About Columbia Days on Variety.com Apr 15, 2011
Greg Mottola talks to Variety about his days as a student at Columbia University's School of the Arts Film program:
"The emphasis was always on acting, writing and storytelling, with a very healthy dose of European cinema influence. Milos Forman was head when I was there, and film school was like a place you could pretend was this utopian society that actually cared about art. And even though I went on to make mainstream studio films, the school was very strong on auteur theory, which Andy Sarris really championed.
"I had three amazing teachers -- George Roy Hill, Davis Mamet and Sidney Lumet -- who were so different. Hill conducted the class like a workshop and made us write scenes, bring in actors and shoot stuff with a video camera. Mamet's class was basically him lecturing. He's very opinionated and brilliant, and even though it was a directing class, I don't think I've ever learned more about writing than with him. And Lumet was a mix of feedback on our films and discussing every stage of making a film, with lots of personal anecdotes. As a fellow New Yorker, it was amazing to sit there and ask him about making 'Dog Day Afternoon' or 'Network.'
"To have these great artists treat us like we were credible potential filmmakers was so exciting and inspiring. I used to joke that film school's a bit like going to West Point and everyone's expected to be a five star general, but the truth is, it's a very competitive, narrow field of people who actually end up getting to direct movies."
(Mottola will receive Columbia's Andrew Sarris Award on May 2.)