One of the great thrills about filmmaking are the industry folks you look up to, the ones who inspire you, the ones whose next films you can’t wait to see, the ones you hope to meet and get to know.
I read a recent article in the LA Times about one of the hottest and most prolific directors, JJ Abrams, whose idol is Steven Spielberg. Of course Steven has been a filmmaker hero to most of my generation and I myself used to fantasize being best buddies with him. The only time I was ever in the same room with him was when he came to the American Film Institute to speak when I was a Fellow student there in late 1977. Also, one of my best friends, Joe Alves, was Steven’s brilliant production designer on JAWS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.
What was touching about this article was to see someone as successful as Abrams who told the story of how as a young filmmaker he had the incredible luck of being hired by Spielberg’s company to frame-by-frame repair the frayed 8mm movies Spielberg had made in his youth? A super luck job?
Well, as I mention often in my new memoir, Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot, luck is huge in building film careers and cinematic destinies, but making your own luck is the key…putting yourself in position to get lucky. Abrams was a young hungry filmmaker who was 15 when his home movie played at the Nuart Theater in LA during a Super 8 festival of young filmmakers, and when interviewed, he mentioned his idol: Steven. By being an ambitious young filmmaker who made a film and entered this festival, he put himself in position to get lucky. Out of the blue, he gets the dream call from Spielberg’s office (who had just finished RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) when someone on his staff had read (a lucky newspaper day?) about Abrams’ home movies at the fest. They bring him in to meet Steven. JJ got hired!
They become friends through the years, and now, Spielberg is the producer of JJ’s big summer movie SUPER 8. Yeah, it doesn’t happen to everyone, but it’s great to know it happened for JJ Abrams…who made his luck happen. Cheers to both and good luck with the movie JJ and Steven.