Steven Allan Spielberg and His Work

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Perhaps one of the greatest if not the greatest director/producer in American film history is Steven Allan Spielberg. Spielberg is a three-time Academy Award winner and is the highest grossing filmmaker of all time; his films having made nearly $8 billion internationally. As of 2006, Premiere listed him as the most powerful and influential figure in the motion picture industry. TIME magazine named him in the '100 Greatest People of the Century'. At the end of the 20th century LIFE named him the most influential person of his generation. In a career that spans almost four decades, Spielberg's films have touched many themes and genres. During the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, three of his films, Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park became the highest grossing films for their time. During his early years as a director, his sci-fi and adventure films were often seen as the archetype of modern Hollywood blockbuster film-making. In recent years, he has tackled emotionally powerful issues such as the Holocaust, slavery, war, and terrorism. Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Leah Adler a restaurateur and concert pianist, and Arnold Spielberg, a computer engineer. Throughout his early teens, Spielberg made amateur 8 mm "adventure" movies with his friends, the first of which he shot at a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. He charged admission (25 cents) to his home movies (which involved the wrecks he staged with his Lionel train set) while his sister sold popcorn. Spielberg became a boy scout and in 1958, he fulfilled a requirement for photography merit badge by making a 9 minute 8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight. At age 13, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war movie he titled Escape to Nowhere. At 16 years old wrote and directed his first independent movie, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight . The movie, which had a budget of $400, was shown in his local movie theater and generated a profit of $100. A writer for the local Phoenix press wrote that he could expect great things to come. He attended California State University, Long Beach, to avoid the draft for the Vietnam War. His actual career began when he returned to Universal studios as an unpaid, three-day-a-week intern and guest of the editing department. As an intern and guest of Universal Studios, Spielberg made his first short film for theatrical release, the 24 minute movie Amblin' in 1968. After Sidney Sheinberg, then the vice-president of production for Universal's TV arm, saw the film, Spielberg became the youngest director ever to be signed to a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio.

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