Robert Altman really wanted to make the film Thieves Like Us, but United Artists wasn't interested. The studio had just bought a company that published country and western songs, and wanted Altman to make a country and western movie. Altman made a deal with the studio which would allowed him to make Thieves Like Us and he in return had to make what would later turn out to be Nashville.
Robert Altman rewrote Doran William Connon's entire screenplay for the film M*A*S*H. This infuriated the writer so much that he wrote an article bashing Altman in the LA Times. Connon later went on to win an Oscar for the rewritten screenplay and never apologized to Altman.
Robert Altman was an uncredited writer for the film Christmas Eve (1947).
Robert Altman rarely used storyboards when he made a film. This was because he often didn't know how he was going to shoot a scene, until the day it was shot.
After making the film Images, Robert Altman was asked to speak about schizophrenia at an international convention of psychologists and psychiatrists. Altman turned down the invitation, stating he was not an expert on the subject.
In 1976, Robert Altman formed his own film production company and called it Lion's Gate. He named the company after the bridge that leads into Vancouver. Altman sold the company five years later and it is now known as Lionsgate.
Robert Altman had the actors in the film Nashville write and perform their own music.
The idea for the film 3 Women came to Altman in a dream.
Robert Altman made a short film called The Kathryn Reed Story as a birthday present for his wife.
Fourteen directors turned down the film M*A*S*H before it was offered to Robert Altman. Altman later went on to earn an Academy Award nomination in the best director category for the film.
Instead of using ordinary clear sound, Robert Altman is known for overlapping sound such as character dialogue. He is even known to blend scenes into one another and interrupt each other. Altman did this because he felt that this is the way sound is in real life.
Robert Altman shot all of his films using two cameras simultaneously with a zoom lens. He felt this kept the actors honest, and forced them to give their best performance at all times. Altman's theory was that by having two cameras, one always on the actors face, it prevented them from thinking they don't have to give their all in a particular scene because the camera was on their back.
Robert Altman appeared as an extra in the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Robert Altman wrote the screenplay for the film Images in one weekend.
Some of Robert Altman's influences include directors Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa.
Robert Altman: A good movie is taking the narrative and the story out of it. The audience will sit and see the film and understand the movies intention without being able to articulate it.
Robert Altman: The majority of writers will not understand that they are part of a collaboration in films. The word 'writer' means you write and then you are one on one with your audience. Well, in films you're not one on one with your audience.
Robert Altman: (referring the film "Images") Anything in the film comes from myself, and I don't know where it comes from. I trust instinct more than any study or logical conclusions.
Robert Altman: I've probably dealt with more female characters than most people. I grew up in a household of women, and as a kid I had two sisters and a cousin around me, and my dad was not around a lot. And I was taught by nuns. Women were in a position to wield authority over me when I was young. I suppose I'm more comfortable with women because of growing up that way, and I certainly learned how to manipulate them, or how to manipulate myself through their world. I don't pretend to know the working of the female mind, but I think, on balance, women are more interesting than men.
Robert Altman: I filmed a lot of plays where I didn't even have a screenplay. With Come Back to the Five and Dime, Streamers, Secret Honor, and Fool for Love I just had the Samuel French text in my pocket. That was my guide. But they're all just guides.
Robert Altman: The present government in America I just find disgusting, the idea that George Bush could run a baseball team successfully – he can't even speak! I just find him an embarrassment. I was over here when the election was on and I couldn't believe it – and I'm 76 years old. Then when the Supreme Court came in and turned out to be a totally political animal, the last shred of any naivety that was left in me has gone. When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke.
Robert Altman: What I'm looking for is occurrence, truthful human behavior. We've got a kind of road map, and we're making it up as we travel along.
Robert Altman: Jazz has endured because it doesn't have a beginning or an ending. It's a moment.
Robert Altman: Retirement? You're talking about death, right?
Robert Altman: (on making M*A*S*H and Vietnam) Our mandate was bad taste. If anybody had a joke in the worst taste, it had a better chance of getting into the film, because nothing was in worst taste than that war itself.
(Regarding his movie M*A*S*H (1970) being made into the television sitcom)
Robert Altman: They made millions and millions of dollars by bringing an Asian war into Americans' homes every Sunday night. I thought that was the worst taste.