The “New Hollywood” of the 1970’s was made up of artists and film directors who weren’t afraid of introducing different creative approaches to film. Of these directors, Francis Coppola, George Lucas, and Martin Scorsese led the pack and become known as the “film school generation,” referring to the fact that they each attended film school. Entering the world of Hollywood, they made their mark by experimenting with innovative movies, brand new special effects, and film shots that had never been seen.
Francis Coppola attended UCLA Film School in 1969. There he met Jim Morrison, whose song, “This Is the End,” he used in his box-office hit movie “Apocolypse Now” (1979). Coppola co-wrote the script of “Patton,” receiving an Academy Award in 1970, and later directed “The Godfather” in 1972, winning an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Coppola’s next film, “The Conversation” further cemented his position as one of the most talented directors in Hollywood, dealing with very sensitive political issues around the same time as the Nixon Watergate scandal. Most notably, the 2nd and 3rd films of The Godfather series were created under Coppola’s direction.
George Lucas is credited with creating the “new space opera,” a subgenre of science fiction that began with Star Wars and emphasizes a darker, more character-developed side of science fiction as opposed to the previously more romanticized, triumphant approach. Lucas attended the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, and almost immediately after graduation he founded Lucas Film. Aside from Star Wars, the successful Indiana Jones series was also created and nurtured by Lucas during the height of his career. After multiple Academy Awards wins, Lucas remains a pioneer of special effects.
Martin Scorsese earned his Master of Fine Arts in film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1966, a year after the school was founded. He went on to direct Ellen Burnstyn in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” which won her an Academy Award for “Best Actress.” Scorsese is hailed as one of the significant and influential American filmmakers of the modern era, directing landmark films such as the “Raging Bull,” “Cape Fear,” “Casino,” and “Taxi Driver,“ all starring actor and close friend Robert De Niro. Leonardo Dicaprio has also starred in many of Scorsese’s well known films including “Gangs of New York,” “The Departed,” and “Shutter Island” – all of which were received multiple nominations and awards.
These three directing greats have opened doors for new and upcoming film genres and directing techniques, and they each began their career by earning a degree in film. They will be remembered as the pioneers who ignored barriers and tried something new, only to leave a lasting and pivotal impression in the world of film.
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