“Good films can be made only by a crew of dedicated maniacs” is a quote from David Lean, a film director that became famous for A bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and Doctor Zhivago (1965) – among other films. The BBC documentary David Lean and his dedicated maniacs (not the best documentary I’ve ever seen, but interesting nevertheless) shows that Lean was a man who demanded perfection in every detail.
So, apart from a crew of maniacs, a film director needs charisma and a strong personality
Lean was not just a perfectionist himself. As a typical blockbuster director Lean worked with a team of experts in their fields (set builders, cinematographers, etc.) with which he spent enormous amounts of time when he was on a shoot – hence Lean’s quote. An anecdote that shows how he also wanted perfection from the people he worked with is that he once told his Director of Photography: “you should be able to cut out any frame of a role of film and put a picture frame around it and hang it on your wall and admire it.” Unlike painters or poets, who are most of the time only hard on themselves, directors also have to be hard on their co-workers. If not, the result of the creative collaboration will be anything but a single-minded result. So, apart from a crew of maniacs, a film director needs charisma and a strong personality so that people trust him and are willing to follow him into one clear direction.
Another thing this documentary shows is that Lean was a workaholic, a typical personality trait for creative minds; being occupied with your work non-stop. Which is why Lean said that the hardest thing in making a big movie was fighting tiredness. Lean, however, enjoyed his work very much. In an interview he said: “I enjoy this job more than anything I can imagine. I think I’m very lucky. In fact, if I had the money in the bank I think I would pay the film people to engage me.”