December 18 – Steven Spielberg

Posted on December 18, 2015

At age 12, a Boy Scout wanted to earn the photography merit badge. But his dad's camera was broken! What's a kid to do?

Young Steven Spielberg (born on this date in 1946) realized that, although his dad's still camera was broken, his dad also had a movie camera.

Spielberg asked the Scoutmaster if he could make a movie in order to earn the badge, and he was given permission to do so.

So pre-teen Spielberg made an 8mm Western called The Last Gunfight. He earned his badge and went on to making other amateur movies when he was 13 and 14 and...

Spielberg was born in Ohio, had lived in New Jersey and Arizona, and eventually California. As soon as he graduated from high school, Spielberg moved to Los Angeles. He wanted to become a movie director, and he applied to USC's film school (one of the most prestigious in the world). But he was turned down for his mediocre grades at high school. So he went to Cal State Long Beach instead.

But Spielberg also took a small, unpaid intern job at Universal Studios. And he took every opportunity to keep making films. One of his films was seen by Universal Studios vice president Sidney Sheinberg – and Sheinberg was impressed!

Sheinberg did a very rare thing: he offered Spielberg a seven-year directing contract. Suddenly, Spielberg became the youngest director EVER to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio.

Spielberg dropped out of college and started to work professionally for Universal.

Was the Universal Studio executive's hunch right to sign Spielberg? Was Spielberg right to drop out of college?

Here are some of Spielberg's movies:

  • Jaws
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Poltergeist
  • The Twilight Zone
  • The Goonies
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Gremlins
  • The Color Purple
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Hook
  • Jurassic Park
  • Schindler's List
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Catch Me If You Can
  • War of the Worlds
  • Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • Lincoln
  • Bridge of Spies
  • True Grit
  • Jurassic World
  • Men in Black
  • and, honestly, too many others to list!

To sum up, Steven Spielberg is one of the most popular and influential directors and producers in movie history! He is one of the co-founders of DreamWorks Studios, he has won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture, and he is a billionaire!!

Here are a few things I found interesting about Spielberg's story:

  • Spielberg always loved the movies, and he particularly loved James Bond movies. He asked Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli if he could direct a Bond film, and he was turned down because he didn't have enough experience. So Spielberg got more experience and then asked again if he could direct a Bond film.

    At that point, Spielberg's films were super popular and making money like crazy. So Broccoli again turned Spielberg down, this time saying he couldn't afford him.

  • Spielberg is really generous. He has a cool collection of movie items, but he has purchased several Oscar statues that he then donated to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in an effort to preserve film history. Also, he donated any earnings he made from his Oscar-winning, highly-acclaimed film Schindler's List – including any future profits from the film – to the Shoah Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting visual history and education, including filmed interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides.

  • Spielberg loves video games and has had a big role in creating several including the Medal of Honor franchise.

  • Spielberg has made some pretty sweet, even heart-warming movies about aliens, which I really appreciate - because so many movies featuring aliens before Spielberg came along were all about the horror and violence of such contacts! But Spielberg has also created a lot of super sad movies, horror movies, scary movies!

    I didn't realize that Spielberg cared enough about his young viewers that he helped to create the PG-13 rating to tip people off if a movie might be too upsetting for younger kids.
  • Like me, Spielberg hates coffee and never drinks the vile stuff! We are a rarity among adults in America, though!

  • Even though Spielberg dropped out of college in order to start his dream profession, he did end up slowly finishing his degree through an independent projects program. In 2002, he was awarded a B.A. in film production.

    Of course, he has also received an honorary degree from Brown University and from Boston University.

  • Spielberg apparently suffered from dyslexia, which is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read. That may be one reason he is such a proponent of visual education. Many, many people learn more easily through audio-visual materials such as movies and video games than they do through reading.

Also on this date:

Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day

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