CASE STUDY: QUENTIN TARANTINO
(HNC Assignment)

So, why Tarantino for this film study? Simple. Tarantino went from a 29-year-old unknown video shop clerk to arguably the greatest auteur to ever grace this Earth. With no prior experience, and with no film school education, how did this minimum-wage kid achieve such extraordinary feats of creative genius with accolades such as two Oscars, one Cannes Film Festival, four Golden Globes, numerous nominations and the following movie titles under his belt: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and I’ll throw in From Dusk Till Dawn, Four Rooms, True Romance and Natural Born Killers as a Brucie bonus? 

 

The answer to this question is actually simpler than you may think. Tarantino’s critically acclaimed success can be summed up in just four words and four words alone: A love for film - that’s right, you heard me correctly - no secret formula, no complex mathematical equation, no divine intervention, just an emphatic raw love for film. 

 

“When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them, 'No, I went to films.'” - Quentin Tarantino 

 

Tarantino’s love for film started back in his early childhood, but it wasn’t until 1985 when the 22-year-old took a job at the now legendary Video Archives store when his career really started rolling. Already a cinephile, Tarantino expanded his knowledge by eating through the Video Archives library; he was quickly becoming a walking encyclopedia of film knowledge and history, and in 1986, while still working at Video Archives, he began to study acting in Beverly Hills, but his interests gradually moved into writing and directing.

 

In 1987, Tarantino spent the next three years experimenting with his own low-budget film production “My Best Friends Birthday”, working alongside fellow indie film geek and Video Archives employee, Roger Avery, who several years later, would be standing on stage at the Oscars sharing a Best Original Screenplay for "Pulp Fiction".

 

“My Best Friend’s Birthday” turned out to be a disaster - with only 36 minutes of survivable footage - but it would provide Tarantino with the required skills, knowledge and experience that he would soon be needing in his first major directing role. It was also at this time that Tarantino wrote the scripts, True Romance and Natural Born Killers, but struggled to get them off the ground. Eventually, his persistence paid dividends; he was offered $30,000 for True Romance, and the idea was to fund the production of his latest script, Reservoir Dogs, with the proceeds.

 

Quentin then showed the script to his friend, Lawrence Bender, who read the script and obviously knew quality when he saw it; Bender asked Tarantino to give him three months to find serious funding for the film. Initially, a sceptical Tarantino refused - stating that he’s been hearing that same old regurgitated line for years, and therefore, was just going to plough ahead and make the film for $30k on 16mm and take it around the film festival circuits. Ultimately though, Tarantino was overcome by Bender’s power of persuasion, and three months later, Reservoir Dogs had a $1.3 million budget from Line Entertainment (eventually to be bought by Miramax) and big-name, Hollywood-star - Harvey Keitel, as actor/co-producer. In 1992, Reservoir Dogs was released and well, the rest is history!


 

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” — Pablo Picasso


 

Tarantino not only elevated pre-existing genres and stamped on his own unique signature, he also concocted a whole new sub-genre and style - characterised by frequent references to pop-culture, nonlinear storylines, dark humour, stylised violence, extended dialogue and a weird fetish for bear feat - which according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is now more commonly known as Tarantinoesque. 

 

The heavy influence from existing film genres can undoubtedly be observed within each distinct film - for example: The Hateful Eight is an original take on a Spaghetti Western; Pulp Fiction is a stylised crime caper (influenced by Pulp magazines and French New Wave Cinema); Kill Bill is the classic samurai story albeit thrust into the 21st century; Death Proof is a B-Movie Grindhouse-horror; Strip back Reservoir Dogs and you uncover a stageplay; Jackie Brown is a blaxploitation film; and Inglorious Bastards is a WW2 epic set in a parallel universe - in fact, the guy spawned his own fictional universe (the Tarantinoverse) by creating fictional brands and interweaving character backstories like the Vega Brothers; Texas Ranger, Earl McGraw; Red Apple cigarettes; and Big Kahuna Burger (to name a few).

 

With that being said, it’s no wonder that Tarantino has had such an influence on my personal journey into film. I find Tarantino’s story inspirational and relatable. Tarantino, amongst others (honorary mention to Robert Rodriguez’s and Sylvester Stallone’s “origin stories”) has proved that if you have an unwavering passion for a particular subject, then it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, it’s possible for anyone to achieve extraordinary works of 

art.

(2022)