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Filmmaking Lessons from Steven Spielberg

Jonny Elwyn
By Jonny Elwyn
By Jonny Elwyn

Tips & insights from legendary director Steven Spielberg – inspiring info for creative professionals!

Creative Inspiration Steven Spielberg

If you want to learn how to be a better filmmaker then learn from the best. Here is a roundup of filmmaking lessons from one of Hollywood’s living legends, director Steven Spielberg.

First watch this video essay by Steven Benedict on Spielberg’s techniques and themes, featuring a vast array of visual and audio references from his filmography. Benedict provides an insightful overview of the techniques Spielberg employs in crafting his stories.

If you’re after something a little more immediately digestible then LA video filmmaker has a similar breakdown of 14 of Spielberg’s compositional and blocking techniques with plenty of handy gif examples.

steven spielberg on filmmaking

If you’ve not seen these vintage videos of Spielberg at a AFI (American Film Institute) Q+A session then they’re also a goldmine of insights into the art and craft of filmmaking. This AFI youtube playlist includes every single video featuring Spielberg in their collection.

The Art of Collaboration

This four part AFI Masterclass, via Filmmaker IQ, between Spielberg and longtime collaborator (40 years long!) and composer John Williams, is a guided tour on the art of collaboration featuring plenty of examples from their own work, as well as the work of others. Having worked together for over 40 years they both know the ins and outs of effective collaboration, so its a real treat to hear two masters discuss it for our benefit.

The Future of Cinema

If you’re following any connected to the film industry on twitter then this recent discussion between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas on the future of the film industry, held at the opening of the Interactive Media Building at the University of Southern California, will have already been tweet quoted to death. But if you’re looking to make it in the brave new world of interactive media, multi-screen media and internet distributed media then there are plenty of great insights to be had.

 I think the key divide between the interactive media and the narrative media is the difficulty in opening up an empathic pathway between the gamer and the character, as differentiated from the audience and the characters in a movie or a television show. That little thing, that little thing called the empathic pathway is currently the great abyss in allowing a player to become emotionally attached to a character. – Spielberg

The link above takes you to Empire’s full run down of the discussion or if you like your reporting a little more new school you can also check out Norman Hollyn and Victor Lucas’ live blog from the event.

Finally if you’re ever thinking of making someone a film for their birthday then you might want to check out the film below made for Spielberg by his friends in the style of Citizen Kane. Or you could just watch it for fun.

Spielberg has always been a positive inspiration for me.  Who influences you most creatively?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below!