Born On This Day — December 1, 1935

Woody Allen & Gordon Willis shooting "Annie Hall" (1977)
Woody Allen and Gordon Willis shooting Annie Hall (1977)

I always wanted to be a foreign filmmaker. But I’m from Brooklyn so I couldn’t be because I wasn’t foreign. But all of a sudden, through happy accidents, I’ve become one, to such a degree that I’m even writing subtitles. So I’m thrilled with that. The language is never a problem because when you’re making a movie there are only a few things you ever talk about and you learn them right away. I did three pictures with a Chinese cameraman who didn’t speak a word of English—not a word. And it didn’t matter at all because we were only talking about the lighting and the angle.

I make films for literate people. I have to assume there are many millions of people in the world who are educated and literate and want sophisticated entertainment that does not cater to the lowest common denominator and is not all about car crashes and bathroom jokes.

I’m very happy doing films. I wrote a novel, but it didn’t come out well and I put it away. I would like to write for the theatre again, and I will continue to write for “The New Yorker.” But I don’t have to knock myself out to do one film a year—a year’s a long time to make a film. I don’t make these films like, say, Steven Spielberg, where I take three years and a hundred million dollars. My films are much less ambitious. It’s easy for me. I finish a film and I’m sitting around the house and have other ideas; I get them together and I write them. I don’t require much money to make a film, so it’s not hard for me to get funded. And I’m a good bet for an investor, because I work fast and inexpensively. And when the film is released, before you know it, the small amount that it cost, they’ve made back. Then once in a while, if I hit one that is popular—like Match Point, which made a hundred million dollars—then everybody makes a lot of money on it. Everybody except me.

Believe it or not, there are many terrible things about being famous and many wonderful things, too. In the end, the good things are better than the bad, so if you have the chance, it’s better to be famous.

Woody Allen
Woody Allen CREDIT: Emily Assiran/New York Observer