As a producer and budget-minded studio head, he gave crucial breaks to a who’s who of directors, including Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Monte Hellman, James Cameron, Joe Dante, John Sayles, Peter Bogdanovich, Curtis Hanson, and Ron Howard. (via)
A.V. Club: You’re famous for being able to identify young talent. What do you look for in a young writer or director?
Roger Corman: It’s three things. Two of them are easy. First, you have to be intelligent. I have never met a successful director who isn’t intelligent. A director who is not intelligent might have one hit picture, but he won’t be able to follow it up. So I look for intelligence.
Then I look for the ability to work. Directing is hard work. They don’t teach you that in film school. Critics are not aware of it, but it is hard, physical work. For instance, on Rock ’N’ Roll High School, I gave my usual lecture or series of lectures to Allan, and he was dutifully taking notes on everything I was saying about camera position and editing, and one thing and another. And the final thing I said was “Allan, get a chair with your name on it, and sit down as much as you can.” He did not take a note on that, figuring “Well, that’s because Roger’s old. He has to sit down. I don’t have to sit down.”
The last day of shooting, Allan was almost unable to complete the picture, he was so worn out. He was working at a tremendously hard pace. So intelligence, the ability to work hard, and the third, which is intangible, is creativity. Now, with most of the directors who start with us, they start in some other position and they move up and I can judge, particularly with Allan Arkush and Joe Dante. They were in our trailer department, and I could see they had potential, so they became second-unit directors. Jonathan Demme started as a writer, then became a producer and a second-unit director. So I was able to at least get a rough judgment of their creativity before I gave them a film to direct. (via Roger Corman | Film | Interview | The A.V. Club)