Radio Lessons from the Real World

Radio Lessons #34 – Spielberg

By May 17, 2016 No Comments

As Steven Spielberg directed ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’, his crew thought he was insane. Not because the story involved singing spaceships and Richard Dreyfuss building a mountain out of mashed potato, but rather his unorthodox technique of movie making.

It wasn’t his first rodeo. Spielberg’s debut was in 1959 when he shot a short film called ‘The Last Gun’ but critical acclaim first struck him with the feature ‘Duel’ in 1971. He went on to became a Hollywood household name with three Oscars on the mantle and a long list of blockbusters including the Indiana Jones franchise, ‘ET’, ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’.

Engaging storylines with powerful scripts, brought to life by talented casts, is a huge part of the winning formula but his key success secret is his complete disregard for standard practices in moviemaking. Traditionally, on set the director will have one camera crew shoot the scene, while the actors do their thing for as many takes as necessary. Then the editor works their magic tirelessly in the editing booth to stitch the various scenes together into a cohesive story. Spielberg doesn’t do that.

On set, he shoots scenes with multiple cameras from multiple camera angles simultaneously and then joins the editor for the entire editing process to find not only the right moments of acting, lighting etc. but also the best perspective of the scene too. He breaks paradigms with camera angles and challenges the normal – he makes movies that look unlike the work of any other film maker and he wows audiences.

Don’t waste great ideas by only looking at them through one lens. Have the courage to find a different angle to bring things to life. Take the time to first establish what a ‘normal’ thinker would do and then actively find another way, another angle, a different perspective.

Start now. Go make something fun out of mashed potato.