Hi y’all! We at Reel People, Real Reviews are starting a new weekly series titled ‘Filmmaker Friday’ where one of our writers highlights a filmmaker – past or present – and talks a bit about them. Topics will range from their previous work, upcoming work, impact and influence they’ve had on the industry or on the writer personally, and all that jazz. So without further adieu, let’s get this ball rolling, shall we? Hope you guys enjoy it!!
We’re starting the series with the peerless, indomitable, and arguably greatest living American filmmaker: Steven Spielberg.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 18, 1946, Steven Spielberg was born to Leah Francis and Arnold Spielberg – raised in a Russian Jewish household. As a child he moved around, landing in New Jersey (!!!!!) and Phoenix before settling in California, where he dropped out of California State University Long Beach to pursue a career in the entertainment business. Well, I’m sure even Forrest Gump can agree that decision has paid off preeeeetty well.
Spielberg’s first major directorial debut was the 1974 film Sugarland Express, starring Goldie Hawn, but the film that gained the attention of many industry insiders and got his name out there was the made for TV movie Duel. However, it was his second film that really put him on the map, the little film about a big shark: JAWS (1975). JAWS is widely considered to be the first summer blockbuster and Spielberg the first blockbuster director, and Spielberg was now the hottest name in the movie business. He followed up the success of JAWS with Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), which has gone on to become another classic and was a big hit in its own right.
Spielberg’s first ‘bomb’ was the 1979 film 1941, a WWII comedy written by Robert Zemeckis that starred comedy heavyweights John Belushi and Dan Akroyd. For all intents and purposes, 1941 was actual a moderate success, but when compared to his two previous films, JAWS and Close Encounters, 1941 was looked on as a failure and did not meet expectations. On a vacation with his good friend George Lucas, a down in the dumps Spielberg agreed to direct a film based on a story of Lucas’ about an adventuring archeologist. The aforementioned film eventually became the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark, which introduced the world to the iconic Indiana Jones – which just so happens to be this particular writers’ favorite film AND cinematic character of all time. Spielberg followed up that masterpiece with another bonafide classic and blockbuster that eventually went on to become the biggest movie of the 1980s: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
The rest of Spielberg’s career speaks for itself with such classics as Jurassic Park – which usurped E.T. as the highest-grossing film of all-time globally – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List – both of which he won Best Director Oscar’s for – and many, many more. He has also produced a number of other classic films, films that include Back to the Future, The Goonies, Gremlins, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
To keep this from being an absolute love fest about Spielberg, I will try to keep this last part to a minimum. As many of you know, I am a filmmaker myself, and Steven Spielberg has influenced me more than any other filmmaker I have come across – plain and simple. I still remember the visceral reactions I had watching every single one of his films growing up and the sense of awe I would experience by the time the credits rolled. He has contributed and molded my sensibilities as a filmmaker and film watcher more than any other director and has brought me to places with stories and characters that only existed in my imagination – and I’m not even going to get into his mastery of the craft of filmmaking. Steven Spielberg is an icon and innovator. A once in a lifetime talent that I consider myself extremely lucky to have roamed the earth with and to have been exposed to his incredible talent.
This is Jovanni, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: IMDB.COM