Steven Spielberg is one of the pioneers in film history. His first film jaws made him a household name and then it didn’t slow down from there. He was the director of ITI, Jurassic park, Raiders of the lost Ark, close encounters of the third kind and it really didn’t slow down some of his other successes of the color purple, saving private Ryan back to the future, men in black. And it just keeps going on and on. That’s all fine and good and everybody loves a winner. But how did it start? How does a career like Spielberg’s get it start and this is where act like you belong. Part two comes in and this is way more impressive than my act like you belong. Story from yesterday at 19 Spielberg had an intense interest in making movies. That’s when he jumped on a tour bus at universal studios and stayed on with everybody else while they were riding around the lot.
But at some point he jumped off and he snuck into a bathroom. Not long after the tour bus drove away, so we spent the rest of the day on the universal lot. While he was wandering, he ran to a man who worked for universal named Chuck silvers. Spielberg explained that he was an aspiring director and silvers went out of his way to write him a three day pass. So for those three days he showed up, looked around, learned, met people. Most importantly, he connected with Scotty who was the guard at the entrance of universal studios. After that, the paths expired, but it didn’t end. Spielberg grabbed his dad’s briefcase, put a suit on and shut up again walking to the gate. He threw his hand in the air. He said, Hey, Scotty and the guard just wave back for the next three months. He did the exact same thing.
There were days that the only thing in his briefcase was an extra suit so we can sleep there overnight in an empty office and have fresh clothes to walk back onto the set. During those three months, he snuck out the soundstages. He sat in editing rooms. You would talk to the Hollywood stars and to the studio executives and he’d go out to lunch with them. He made sure he taken as much information as he possibly could. Silvers eventually figured out what Spielberg was doing, but he didn’t kick him out, but he advised him to stop schmoozing and to come back with a high quality short film to show. But he had been making films since he was 12 so we started working on a film, a film called Amblin, which was 26 minutes long and he poured his heart and soul, his time and his editing into this film to present the silvers.
And when he showed it to him, silvers started crying because it was that good. Silver’s touched called universal TV’s, vice president of production, and Sid Sheinberg who had that role watch the film and immediately asked to speak to Spielberg. That day, Steven Spielberg became the youngest major studio director in the history of Hollywood because Scheinberg offered him a seven year contract on the spot. Now, I hope after hearing that story that not only you and impressed, but that you realize that you are not doing enough to build your career. Everybody says that they want success, but are they really willing to do the work to make the sacrifices, to be creative, to challenge themselves and to put themselves into position to make that success happen. Charlie Silver’s was not going to the local universities searching out talent. He was not browsing through the hundreds of resumes that was sent to him to pick that next person.
Spielberg needed to do something to show what he was capable of, but it all started by acting like he belonged. How many people would have jumped off that tour bus and hit out in an abandoned office? I would say to begin with most would not have, but then to have the courage and the guts to strike up conversations with producers and actors and explain to them what you’re looking to do. And then my absolute favorite part, which there are many, was what he’d done the fourth day and what led to that fourth day. He had to have known in his head that it wasn’t going to end with a three day pass. So we got to know Scotty and to me Scotty was the security guard or the usher from the hockey games that I was going to and I’m sure he watched the different people coming in and out, how one, they knew each other.
All they needed to do is smile and wave even though it seems so incredibly glamorous. It’s a small world that they all live in. It becomes pretty routine. So people pull up, they walk through the gate, they wave, they know him and after three days he knew him. And if you’re good enough, getting in is the hardest part. It wasn’t like he started thinking about films when he was 19 he’d been doing them since he was 12 he just needed to find a way in and once he got in he had the drive and the personality to make the connections and yes, there’s always an unsung hero and Chuck silvers was that guy. He not only encouraged this young, talented man to keep doing this, and he didn’t kick him out to go by the rules, but even challenged them, he said, okay, enough, stop shmoozing bring us your work.
And he did. And the rest is history. And I can bet that Chuck silvers would say he’s so glad that he didn’t play by the rules either because he’s the one that gives Steven Spielberg his big break and they’re all better off for it. So yeah, we need to know what the rules are, but we also need to know when the rules should be broken. And they both did it so masterfully and that’s why this is such a great story. So did he fake it till he made it? Maybe. Did he act like he belonged? Absolutely. And something tells me that even if he didn’t get in that time to universal, that Steven Spielberg was going to find a way to make it. But I’m so glad it didn’t happen. The normal route and that it happened in such an unconventional, creative, and different way that gives hope and inspiration to people that do not have the connections. And it shows that there’s always a way. If you have the dream and you have the desire, I’ll be back with you tomorrow.