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Steven Spielberg was born on 18th December 1947 in Cincinnati Ohio. His early childhood experiences played a big part in shaping his later creative efforts. He described one of his first memories as "all is darkness - as dark as a minute to midnight on the first day of creation, as dark as a movie house just before the feature starts. Then the movement begins, a tracking shot down the birth canal of a hallway, towards mystery. Suddenly, a light! A bright room filled with old men in beards and black hats: sages, perhaps from another world. At the far end of the room, on a raised platform, is a blazing red light. The senses are suffused, the mystery deepens." You might even think this was a scene from one of his movies but Time Magazine reported that this was Spielberg's recollection of his first visit to a synagogue when he was just 6 months old! Spielberg's first exposure to making films came when his father bought home a 12mm cine camera. He was just 12 years old at the time and after complaining that his father was not holding the camera steady enough, he took over the family's film making responsibilities. At that point he was hooked and decided that his single goal in life would be to make great movies. He made many 8mm films as a young boy and then got his first break when he met an investor who was willing to give him $10,000 to make a film in 35mm.
Spielberg often visited Universal Studios as a teenager sneaking on and off the visitors' trams as they weaved through the busy film sets. His confidence grew and eventually he "squatted" in the studios by finding an empty office and setting himself up in it, casually walking past the security guards dressed in his suit and carrying his briefcase. He watched, listened and learned hoping to get a chance to prove himself but found that his age was considered a disadvantage. In his book "How to Think Like a Millionaire" Charles-Albert Poissant says "Spielberg had faith. He believed in his talent. He knew he was capable of doing big things even though he was young. He realised however that it was up to him alone to create his own lucky break." Eventually his persistence paid off and he was employed to do some television work. Unfortunately when he was not engaged in TV work his contract forbade him to do any other work and so there was a period in his career where he did nothing.
His first major break came when he took the opportunity to direct the film "Duel". It was a great success in Europe but it took a couple of years before news of his triumph got back to the Universal Studio bosses. He was given a couple of film projects but it was not until he made "Jaws" that he really hit the big time. This film became the number one film of all time in a matter of weeks. Further success came with "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", the monumental "ET" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark". He had several flops in his career but he always learned from them and persisted through the difficult times to find and then stick at, what he was and is best at. They say that his secret is that Steven Spielberg manages to look at the world through the eyes of a child and that ability is the magic in his work.
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4th March 1998: