With Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, “Quartet,” moving on from its Toronto preem to the buzz screenings circuit for serious awards season play, the actor-helmer pulled into the Mill Valley Film Festival, where a packed house of fans gave him a rousing welcome.

In addition to screening “Quartet” on Oct. 9, Hoffman took time for ruminating and reminiscing via the Variety Master Class, a lengthy onstage discussion about his craft and personal history with Variety’s Steven Gaydos.

Anecdotes about famous film figures such as “Kramer vs. Kramer” d.p. Nestor Almendros, “Straw Dogs” director Sam Peckinpah and his Malibu neighbor, Walter Matthau, were interspersed with a wide-ranging overview of his life and career, which he explained resulted from “failing at everything else I tried.”

Hoffman wrapped up the chat with a saying he credited to Werner Herzog’s recent Death Row documentary, “Into the Abyss.” Addressing the crowd, Hoffman exhorted them to “Live the dash!” which he explained means “that space on your tombstone between your birth and your death.”

Following the Master Class, Hoffman was presented with the Mill Valley Film Festival Award for career achievement from fest directors Mark Fishkin and Zoe Elton.