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John Waters: The Filthiest Filmmaker Alive

by Witney Seibold.

Even though I’ve talked endlessly about the notion of Auteur Theory numerous (and perhaps too many) times before, in many different lectures in the Free Film School, I will reiterate (briefly) the definition of auteur theory here: An auteur, in the filmmaking sense, is typically a director whose own artistic drives and strength of creative vision is what will ultimately shapes the look, theme, and tone of the final film.

As we mull that definition over in our minds, we immediately begin to think of great film directors who have a powerful style, and who are pretty well known, maybe even have an Academy Award or two. Martin Scorsese, maybe. Ingmar Bergman. François Truffaut. Really heady and talented folks, right? However, according to the above definition, an auteur is merely a filmmaker who follows their heart, has a powerful aesthetic, and lets themself run rampant with their own ideas and interests.

Indeed, I propose the following notion: The more a filmmaker cleaves to their own interests, the more powerful an auteur they are. Anyone disagree? By that idea, then, let me introduce you to one of the most powerful cinematic auteurs to ever grace the silver screen. Let me introduce you, my gentle students, to John Waters.

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