Masterclass With Spielberg - On His Films And Film Techniques!

By Nita Deshmukh. Posted on October 14, 2015

“Audiences are harder to please if you’re just giving them special effects, but they’re easy to please if it’s a good story”.

- Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg is undoubtedly one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of our time. He is one of the most celebrated director, producer and screenwriter in Hollywood.  Needless to say he needs no introduction. He has co-founded the studio DreamWorks, created iconic characters like the swashbuckling Indiana Jones and the lonely little alien E.T. In career spanning more than four decades he has made movies ranging from action-adventures to drama. Spielberg is one of the founding pioneers of the new Hollywood era.

His first home movie was of a train wreck involving his toy train at the age of 12. Throughout his early teens, and after entering high school, Spielberg continued to make amateur adventure films. 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 Studios.

Spielberg through his movies has always lengthened the periphery of cinema world. Through his films he has fearlessly yet tranquilly addressed human morality, act of vengeance, ideology, violence done not just to its victims but also its perpetrators and several issues pertaining to the generation. Schindler’s List is a deeply affecting examination of moral choices made amid brutality and chaos. Saving Private Ryan is about decency that transcends base cruelty. By making Jurassic Park, Spielberg not only brought back the dinosaurs from the dead but presented a work of cinema that also transported audiences quite literally, to another world.

Steven Spielberg has won three Academy Awards. He has been nominated for seven Academy Awards for the category of Best Director, winning two of them for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. Nine of the films he directed were up for the Best Picture Oscar wherein Schindler's List winning the award.

In 1987 he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his work as a creative producer. In 2001, he was honored as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. On November 19, 2013, Spielberg was honored by the National Archives and Records Administration with its Records of Achievement Award. He was given two facsimiles of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, one passed but not ratified in 1861, as well as a facsimile of the actual 1865 amendment signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. The amendment and the process of passing it were the subject of his film Lincoln.

It is always interesting to know the things about films and filming techniques from director himself.  Read on to be amazed!

On His Films

  • “That’s the one film I can honestly say, if I had to do it all over again I’d make Sugarland Express in a completely different fashion”.
  • “I really believe that Close Encounters of Third kind was probably the closest I’ve ever come to achieving a dream on film”.
  • “Every single shot was storyboarded. Raiders of The Lost Ark was the most prepared I have ever been to direct a movie, and it paid off” .
  • “Empire of The Sun is a movie  I made to satisfy myself and not the audience. It’s as dark as I’ve allowed myself to get”.
  • “I’m making the third Indian Jones movie to apologies for the second. It was too horrific”.
  • “With Jurassic park I was really trying to make a sequel of Jaws. On land. Its shameless. I can tell you now".
  •  Schindler's List  is the first movie with the message I have ever attempted. It’s a very simple message- that something like this should never happen again. But it’s one that’s very close to my heart”.

On Technology

  • "Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we're too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.”

On Filmmaking

  • "Filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself ".
  • "Tracking action without cutting is the least jarring method of placing the audience into a real-time experience where they are the ones making the subtle choices of where and when to look".

On Film Script

  • "People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don't have a middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning."
  • "The only thing that gets me back to directing is good scripts".
  • "You can’t start a movie by having the attitude that the script is finished, because if you think the script is finished, your movie is finished before the first day of shooting".


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