The Woody Allen School of Productivity

To Rome With Love is the director’s 43rd film in as many years. What explains his phenomenal output?

By John Lopez


Change slows you down

Allen stuck with producers/managers Jack Rollins and Charles Joffe for decades, until Joffe died in 2008. He’s written all his scripts on one typewriter. And he has essentially made the same film over and over, with the same themes (love and death), and the same typeface (Windsor Light Condensed).

Fix it quick

When something just isn’t working, Allen doesn’t hesitate. Reshoots are part of his process. Biographer Eric Lax says the director, after viewing the rough cut of Crimes and Misdemeanors, threw out a third of the film and rewrote it from scratch.

Don’t micromanage

With the help of his longtime casting director, Juliet Taylor, Allen picks actors who work well without a lot of direction. As he quipped at a 2010 press conference: “If you hire the right people, you can give them the responsibility, then keep your mouth shut and get your paycheck.”

Keep extra cooks out of the kitchen

Allen won’t be slowed by others’ second-guessing. After the success of Take the Money and Run, he secured final cut on all his films.

Watch your margins

As Leonard Maltin says in Weide’s documentary: “He was clever ... he adopted the philosophy that if he made the films economically and they made even one dollar, he’d be given the go-ahead to make another film.” Allen’s recent European sojourn is no coincidence: Generous tax incentives make his budgets work.

Have a life

If forced to choose between getting one more shot and making the Knicks game on time, Allen claims he’ll choose the Knicks. “I don’t have a lot of patience in life or in general,” he tells Weide. “So I don’t have the patience to do another take if I’ve gotten what I want, I want to move on, finish and go home.”

Just keep swinging

Allen got his start writing dozens of jokes a day, leaving little time to fret about misfires. As Chris Rock notes in Robert Weide’s American Masters documentary on Allen: “You can tell he kind of approaches it like a baseball player, ‘Okay, I’ll get ’em the next time.’”

Don’t look back

The director saves time by never watching his old movies. Or attending the Oscars for any of his 23 nominations. As Allen told the Hollywood Reporter when Midnight in Paris was up for Best Picture: “I make [movies] for the fun of making them.”


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