Descending from Greek immigrants, John Cassavetes was born in New York City in 1929. A popular high-school student, Cassavetes’ fascination for the performance arts led to stint at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He graduated in 1950 and supported himself by playing small parts on stage and TV. As an actor Cassavetes was typecast as tough villains, notably in The Night Holds Terror and the live-TV drama Crime in the Streets. He first gained notice for his performance in the working-class drama Edge of the City. Cassavetes’ acting workshops conducted in New York inspired him to make a film with his students. He funded Shadows through money borrowed from family and friends as well as donations from listeners of the radio show Night People. The film became a landmark in American cinema, winning prizes at the Venice Film Festival. It presented a raw glimpse into urban America in its story of three African-American siblings in 50s New York. Its impact on the emerging independent… read more
"There is a compromise made if you work on a commercial film and the compromise isn't how or what you do, the techniques you use, or even the content, but really the compromise is beginning to feel a lack of confidence in your innermost thoughts. And if you don't put those innermost thoughts on screen then you are looking down not only on your audience but the people you work with. And that's what makes so many people working out there unhappy. They say: 'Well, I'll make a lot of money and then I'll come back and do this later on.' The truth of the matter is, of course, that they never do. These innermost thoughts become less and less a part of you, and once you lose them you don't have anything else. I don't think anyone does it purposely. It's just that a lot of people are not aware of losing those things. I found myself losing them too, and the suddenly I woke up by accident, by sheer accident of not getting along with something, with something inside."