I've only seen one snake out in the wilderness, not behind glass, and I froze. I literally couldn't move. So to say I have a fear of snakes would be true.

My characters aren't chess pieces. I don't move them around some big board. I actually care about these fictitious people.

What Richard and Mildred Loving did was, by their nature, not by any calculus, they separated themselves from the political conversation. They did not have an agenda. They did not want to be martyrs. They did not want to be symbols of a movement.

I love 'Lawrence of Arabia,' big sweeping films. I want my films to feel that way, to be on a big canvas.

Your reaction when you lose control in a situation is to try and hang on tighter.

'Shotgun Stories' and 'Take Shelter'... I was willing to make those with no money and no time. With 'Mud,' I just wanted to protect it until I could have the resources. It's a real tricky movie.

There's a rhythm and a cadence in a scene, and when an actor understands without any real direction from you, then that's a very valuable gift. And some people get it, and some people don't.

The real cost is always more than just the money you shell out.

The funny thing about 'Take Shelter' is that a lot of people talk about how it was allegory for the economy and things that were to happen. And that was so on the nose in the movie for me. I was like, 'That's obvious.' It's the other stuff about marriage and commitment and those other things that I spent the most time thinking about.

I really don't care about plot. I really, really don't.

I found filmmaking to be a very practical art form. It's about figuring out how to create within the very practical limitations/constraints of time, money, and large groups of collaborators.

I can talk to execs very clearly, very plainly. I don't get nervous in front of them anymore.

Nature is the purest thing we can touch and observe. It can be the most beautiful and also the most devastating.

I had two DVDs my junior year. One was 'Fletch' and one was 'Goodfellas,' and I watched those movies so much. I just remember eating Ramen noodles and watching 'Goodfellas.'

I have gained a lot of confidence in my process of making films. It does't mean I'll make a successful film or even a good film, but I know how to make my film.

Marriage isn't about a collection of scenes over ten years of two people telling each other that they love each other. It's about commitment.

I want all of my films to be grounded in reality, and I think 'Midnight Special' is the most grounded film I've ever made, in spite of its genre.

With 'Midnight Special,' the sound was used as a narrative construct. The audience is looking in one direction when a sound suddenly erupts from the other direction.

I'd love to just continue making original films from scratch, but it doesn't mean I won't try my hand at something else in the meantime.

We have a problem with dealing with race in our country. We have a problem with dealing with marriage equality and equality in general. These are complex, divisive issues in our society, and I think that the only way we further this conversation is to take them down to a very human scale.

Actors are real. It's a real skill, and it exists, and talent really exists.

I think I could probably make $5 to $10m movies for a very long time and live a perfectly good life doing it. I'd probably get paid as well as a surgeon, which is pretty damn remarkable for a guy who went to film school.

Sometimes you'll write while listening to a piece of music and think it's great, but then you'll go back and read it without the music and go, 'This sucks.'

I think Warner Bros. are probably some of the best people in marketing films in the world.

If I can drive down the road in my car and listen to XM satellite, and when a song gets beamed into my car, it can tell me who wrote the song and what the damn lyrics are, why, when you broadcast a digital signal of a film, can't it speak to your television to set up a list of settings to show the film in the way that it was meant to be shown?

When I saw the scene in 'Close Encounters,' and Richard Dreyfuss's son is screaming at him - that's a heartbreaking scene. And I remember being devastated by 'E.T.' Or when E.T. started to get sick. That broke me up a little bit.

I'll say this: I think from a directing standpoint, 'Loving' is my most accomplished film. Strictly from a technical, directing point of view.

My stated goal as a filmmaker is to feel something. Is to have a palpable emotion in my life, carry it through the gauntlet of the filmmaking process and try and have it land for an audience at some point during the viewing experience. That to me is successful filmmaking.

The films that have influenced me most are: 'The Hustler', 'Badlands', 'Hud', 'Tender Mercies', 'Cool Hand Luke', 'A Perfect World', and 'Laurence of Arabia'. I also really like 'Fletch'. I feel like all of these films reached an honest place in regard to the human condition while also stringing together really entertaining stories.

Your whole life is changed with that first child. Your social behaviors are all turned upside down, you're sleep deprived, but eight months in, my son had this seizure, and it just woke me up to the idea that, oh, no, this can end. And it can end in a way that will destroy you forever.

Definitely when you give a script to an actor, it's like dropping a capsule in water and the fizzing starts. That's when the thing starts to live and breathe.

I've kind of always had this balance between genre and personal dramas. It almost feels like the two help each other. If I was just to make a genre film, maybe it would be hollow and soulless. If I was just to make a personal drama, maybe it would be melodramatic and nobody would ever go see it.

People ask me about past projects I've worked on, and other things; I'm just really bad at lying. I have a bad poker face, so I just try to tell people how I'm feeling in the moment and really what I was trying to do.

I care about narrative structure; I care about how stories unfold.

The more we try to control our kids and create who they are and where they're going, the more that will fall apart. That's a dangerous thing. So you need to actually manage the fear and figure out who your kids are. Who do they want to be and how can you help shape that, but not control it.

My first job in the film business was working as a production assistant, and then a production manager on a documentary about Townes Van Zandt.

'Take Shelter' is a tough movie because there's no humor in it, so there's really no way to judge how you're doing - whether people are still with you or not.

There are great advantages of making things on the independent market. There's freedom and control there, and kind of a cleanness to the process that I like.

I thought 'Mud' would be such an easy film for people to understand.

Steven Spielberg had a tremendous influence on me through his early stuff. 'E.T.', 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' - 'Jaws,' I think, is one of the most beautifully directed films ever.

One of my favorite directors is Clint Eastwood, and I hear about the way he works, and I think I'm of a similar style. Very few takes - you get what you take, and you move on. It's very much a job and work.

It's amazing how far you can get into a plot before you figure out what you're doing.

You have actors you've worked with previously, and you have actors you haven't worked with that you've seen in things where you know they can work in these parts. And then there are actors who blow you away, who surprise you.

It took me a year just to edit 'Shotgun Stories.' Actually, it took me two years to edit 'Shotgun Stories.'

I'm really calculating when it comes to these scripts - I'm really calculated about character behavior and dialogue.

A lot of independent filmmakers are really catty.

I've been just unsuccessful enough not to have been given a big opportunity too soon.

Whenever I write, I try and approach my stories from some kind of universal theme or idea or emotion.

I never wanted to make movies just for me. I want to make movies that people watch.