Spiel­berg of­fers as­pir­ing di­rec­tors pointers

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By RAY­MOND ZHOU in Bei­jing ray­mondzhou@chi­nadaily.com. cn

Steven Spiel­berg, ar­guably Hol­ly­wood’s best-known di­rec­tor, had many golden nuggets of ad­vice for bud­ding film­mak­ers dur­ing an ap­pear­ance at Ts­inghua Univer­sity, en­cour­ag­ing them to take ad­van­tage of new tech­nolo­gies and make movies that truly speak to them.

“Tell the sto­ries you’ve been too afraid to tell, but tell them,” he said at the univer­sity on Mon­day. “Make the movies you al­ways ad­mired other peo­ple for mak­ing. If you love a su­per­hero movie, make one with your iPhone. You’ve all got a lit­tle video recorder in your de­vices. And those can tell sto­ries and show who you are,” he said.

Spiel­berg started mak­ing 8-mm films at the age of 12. He re­called how he had to lug a pro­jec­tor and a screen to get peo­ple to watch the short films he had made, and he called at­ten­tion to the un­prece­dented ac­cess that so­cial me­dia has pro­vided for to­day’s film stu­dents.

“For me, film­mak­ing is both a hobby and a profession. I love it so much it seems I shouldn’t be paid for it,” he said.

One must have that kind of am­bi­tion and faith in one­self, he added. “I had more peo­ple say no to me than say yes. A hun­dred nos, but that one yes got me started as a film di­rec­tor.”

Spiel­berg, who dropped out of col­lege but went back and got a bach­e­lor of the arts de­gree at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity Long Beach in 2002, said a for­mal film ed­u­ca­tion is im­por­tant, since it will help one cul­ti­vate the craft that’s nec­es­sary in the in­dus­try.

As for the im­por­tance of visual imag­i­na­tion, he said there are movies that are text-ori­ented, such as Lin­coln. He only “framed tableaus and let Tony Kush­ner’s di­a­logue sing”, he said.

There are di­rec­tors who don’t need the iconog­ra­phy of visual im­agery, he said, while oth­ers en­joy play­ing with im­ages, such as the boy rid­ing the bi­cy­cle to­ward the moon in E.T. and the dream tree and the big re­flect­ing pool in the new film The BFG, which was di­rected and co-pro­duced by Spiel­berg.

He said it’s “a per­sonal ques­tion” of whether a young film­maker should spe­cial­ize in a limited set of gen­res and sub­ject mat­ters or try as many as pos­si­ble.

The di­rec­tor said he re­spects great film­mak­ers who haven’t had a wide va­ri­ety, such as Hitch­cock or Scors­ese, but also ad­mires Vic­tor Flem­ing who never told the same story twice.

“I’m much more eclec­tic,” he said. “I’d like to be able to find the sub­ject that I don’t know much about.”

Steven Spiel­berg, speak­ing at Ts­inghua Univer­sity

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