How Could THIS Happen to Spielberg?
If there is anyone in the industry you don’t want to miss a call from it’s Steven Spielberg. In the beginning, the global success of the pioneering director wasn’t a walk through Jurassic Park.
Attending high school in Phoenix, Arizona, Spielberg was viciously bullied. He was taunted with anti semitic slurs and beaten up after class. In addition, he suffered from dyslexia, with teachers coining him “lazy” and students further making fun of him.
When his language-based learning disability made him feel like an outcast, Spielberg turned to filmmaking, this was his escape.
How did he deal with the bullies? He cast one of them in his home movie of course! The bully never bothered him again.
“Most of my friends were made through the camera,” Spielberg says. “Rather than make friends, then go off down to the soda fountain or go to where the kids would hang out, I would just go home and write my scripts and cut my films. I was pretty much isolated, but I had a hobby that I was obsessed by. I would come home from school and I would not go to friends’ houses to play. I would go to my bedroom and I would sit with my little editing machine.”
We can see some of Spielberg’s early experiences from school in his films, such as “The Goonies”, based on “a group of friends he had who just did not fit in with the rest of the students”.
Soon after graduating, Spielberg moved to Los Angeles and applied for The University of Southern California film school, where he was rejected three times due to his “C” grade average. Whilst studying at California State, Spielberg got a small unpaid internship at Universal Studios and dropped out of college to become a film director.
During his first professional TV job on the 1969 pilot episode of “Night Gallery”, the star of the show, Joan Crawford was “horrified” at the thought of a twenty-one year old newcomer directing her. “Why is this happening to me?” she said to the producer, her attitude changed when she began working with the young genius.
Universal studios noticed the strength of Spielberg’s work and he was signed for four films before being offered THAT chair to direct thriller-horror Jaws, which was an enormous success. The rest is history.
Spielberg was awarded an honorary degree and became a trustee of The University of Southern California film school, joking that “I eventually had to buy my way in”. We think he did alright.
By Lois-Amber Toole