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#209 Steven Spielberg: A Biography
October 6th, 2021 | E209

What I learned from reading Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride. 


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Whatever is there, he makes it work.

Spielberg once defined his approach to filmmaking by declaring, "I am the audience."

"He said, 'I want to be a director.' And I said, 'Well, if you want to be a director, you've gotta start at the bottom, you gotta be a gofer and work your way up.' He said, 'No, Dad. The first picture I do, I'm going to be a director.' And he was. That blew my mind. That takes guts."

One of his boyhood friends recalls Spielberg saying "he could envision himself going to the Academy Awards and accepting an Oscar and thanking the Academy.” He was twelve.

He was disappointed in the world, so he built one of his own.

Spielberg remained essentially an autodidact. Spielberg followed his own eccentric path to a professional directing career. Universal Studios, in effect, was Spielberg's film school. Giving him an education that, paradoxically, was both more personal and more conventional than he would have received in an academic environment. Spielberg devised what amounted to his own private tutorial program at Universal, immersing himself in the aspects of filmmaking he found most crucial to his development.

At the time he came to Hollywood, generations of nepotism had made the studios terminally inbred and unwelcoming to newcomers. The studio system, long under siege from television, falling box-office receipts, and skyrocketing costs, was in a state of impending collapse.

When Steven was very discouraged trying to sell a script and break in, he always had a positive, forward motion, whatever he may have been suffering inside.

In the two decades since Star Wars and Close Encounters were released, science-fiction films have accounted for half of the top twenty box-office hits. But before George Lucas and Spielberg revived the genre there was no real appetite at the studios for science fiction. The conventional wisdom was science-fiction films never make money.

Your children love you. They want to play with you. How long do you think that lasts? We have a few special years with our children, when they're the ones who want us around. So fast, it’s a few years, then it's over. You are not being careful. And you are missing it.


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