Research Log – Steven Speilberg – Early Life and Career

Source: Wikipedia

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Short description: An insight into the early life and film career of Steven Speilberg.

Why is it useful? Why has or hasn’t it been used?

Information Obtained:

Early Life

Steven Speilberg was born on the 28th of December 1946. He was born in the state of Ohio.

‘His first home movie was of a train wreck involving his toy Lionel trains, then age 12. Throughout his early teens, and after entering high school, Spielberg continued to make amateur 8 mm “adventure” films.’

‘In 1958, he became a Boy Scout and fulfilled a requirement for the photography merit badge by making a nine-minute 8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight. Years later, Spielberg recalled to a magazine interviewer, “My dad’s still-camera was broken, so I asked the scoutmaster if I could tell a story with my father’s movie camera. He said yes, and I got an idea to do a Western. I made it and got my merit badge. That was how it all started.”At age thirteen, while living in Phoenix, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war film he titled Escape to Nowhere, using a cast composed of other high school friends. That motivated him to make 15 more amateur 8mm films. In 1963, at age sixteen, Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent film, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight, which would later inspire Close Encounters. The film was made for $500, most of which came from his father, and was shown in a local cinema for one evening.’

‘After attending Arcadia High School in Phoenix for three years, his family next moved to Saratoga, California where he later graduated from Saratoga High School in 1965. His long-term goal was to become a film director.’ He then moved to LA with his father.

‘In Los Angeles, he applied to the University of Southern California’s film school, but was turned down because of his “C” grade average. He then applied and was admitted to California State University, Long Beach.’

‘While still a student, he was offered a small unpaid intern job at Universal Studios with the editing department. He was later given the opportunity to make a short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute, 35mm, Amblin’, which he wrote and directed. Studio vice president Sidney Sheinberg was impressed by the film, which had won a number of awards, and offered Spielberg a seven-year directing contract. It made him the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio. He subsequently dropped out of college to begin professionally directing TV productions with Universal.’

Early Film Career

‘His first professional TV job came when he was hired to direct one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery, written by Rod Serling and would star Joan Crawford. Crawford, however, was “speechless, and then horrified” at the thought of a twenty-one-year-old newcomer directing her, one of Hollywood’s leading stars. “Why was this happening to me?” she asked the producer. Her attitude changed after they began working on her scenes.’

‘The first was a Richard Matheson adaptation called Duel. Based on the strength of his work, Universal signed Spielberg to do four TV films.’ This received high and special praise which was significant to Speilberg’s career.

‘Studio producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown offered Spielberg the director’s chair for Jaws, a thriller-horror film based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark. Spielberg has often referred to the gruelling shoot as his professional crucible. Despite the film’s ultimate, enormous success, it was nearly shut down due to delays and budget over-runs. But Spielberg persevered and finished the film. It was an enormous hit, winning three Academy Awards (for editing, original score and sound) and grossing more than $470 million worldwide at the box office. It also set the domestic record for box office gross, leading to what the press described as “Jawsmania.” Jaws made Spielberg a household name and one of America’s youngest multi-millionaires, allowing him a great deal of autonomy for his future projects. It was nominated for Best Picture.’

From Jaws, Speilberg was given the platform to become one of the most successful film directors of all time, and went on to direct some of the most credible films of all time, such as Jurassic Park and E.T The Extra Terrestrial.

 

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