My cultural proyect
I’m going to talk about American Film Directors. My American partner is called Jessica Matthews. She is 23 years old and she lives in Kansas City, which is located between Missouri and Kansas, as you can see in the picture. After our first talk out of the University we discovered that we both loved the cinema and decided, after a long delivery, that we would talk about three directors of each others nationality. In my case, American directors. We knew much about them, but we decided to look up on the internet, just to full-fill the information we had from ourselves. She chose Almodovar, Amenabar and De la Iglesia and I chose Spielberg, Lucas and Tarantino.
Firstly I’ll talk about George Lucas, who is the oldest director. He was born in Modesto, California in 1944. As a film student he made several short films including THX-1138, which won first prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival. In 1967 he was awarded a scholarship by Warner Brothers to observe the making of a film that was being directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Lucas and Coppola became good friends and formed a company called American Zoetrope, which produced Lucas’s full-length version of THX 1138.
In 1971, Lucas formed his own company: Lucasfilm, and wrote and directed American Graffiti (a semi-autobiographical film), which won the Golden Globe. From 1973 to 1974 he began writing the screenplay for Star Wars and in 1975 he established Industrial Light and Magic to produce the visual effects needed for the movie. His movie was turned down by several studios until Twentieth Century Fox gave him a chance. Lucas agreed to forget his directing salary in exchange for 40% of the film’s box-office take and all merchandising rights. The movie went on to break all box office records and earned seven Academy Awards.
Lucas made the other Star Wars films and along with “Steven Spielberg” created the Indiana Jones series (Indiana was originally Lucas’ dog’s name) which made box-office records of their own. From 1980 to 1985 Lucas was busy with the construction of Skywalker Ranch, built to accommodate the creative, technical, and administrative needs for Lucasfilm. Lucas also revolutionized movie theatres with the THX System, which was created to maintain the highest quality standards in motion picture viewing.
Lately he has been dedicated to finish his famous saga, making the three prequels of the known Star Wars films, which have been much criticized but very profitable for the director.
Secondly, I’ll talk about Steven Spielberg, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1946. He went to Long Beach University, but dropped out to pursue his entertainment career. He gained notoriety as an unaccredited assistant editor on the classis western “Wagon Train”.
He also made some short films: “Battle Squad”, “Escape to Nowhere” and “The Last Gun”. The next couple of years Spielberg directed a couple of movies that would be foretelling to his future career in movies. Among them I will mention “Amblin”, which, apart from being a film, would also become the production company he would produce many films with, including the classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
After a long period of time working in television, in Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery”, Colombo: Murder by the Book and a long etcetera, he started to direct projects that would make him known internationally. As a rising star, his major directorial effort was The Sugarland Express (with Goldie Hawn), but the film that made Spielberg an international superstar among directors was definitely: Jaws (the classic shark attack tale). His next effort was the cult classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind (a unique UFO story), followed by Used Cars (a mostly forgotten Kurt Russel comedy). Spielberg hit gold again directing Raiders of the Lost Ark (with Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones) and in 1982 produced and directed Poltergeist and E.T. (the highest grossing movie of all time up to that point).
In 1894, Spielberg followed up “Raiders” with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which was commercial success but critically did not live up to its predecessor). As a producer he took on many projects in the 1980s, such as The Goonies, Gremlins, Back to the Future etc., and as a director he took on the book The Colour Purple and the Empire of the Sun. In 1988 he produced the animation/live action film Who Framed Roger Rabbit and produced and directed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Back to the Future II, which were both box office and critical successes.
Aside from producing the landmark Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Steven Spielberg produced the T.V. show “Tiny Toon Adventures”, “Animaniacs”, “Pinky and the Brain”, as well as the live action version of the Flinstones where Spielberg was credited as “Steven Spielrock”. In the early nineties, he produced Arachnophobia, Back to The Future III and Gremlins 2. While the movies were big successes, they did not quite bring in the box office as previous efforts. But in the 1993 Spielberg directed Jurassic Park, which would go on to be the highest grossing movie of all time and Schindler’s List. He won best director at the Oscars, and also got Best picture.
In the mid-nineties Spielberg founded the production company Dreamworks, responsible for films like: The Mask of Zorro, Men in Black, Deep Impact, Saving Private Ryan, Evolution, The Haunting and Shrek in 2001. Also in that year, Spielberg directed Artificial Intelligence (which was originally a deceased Stanley Kubrick’s film) and team up with Tom Cruise for Minority Report. The year after that one he produced Men in Black 2 and produced and directed Catch Me If You Can. This year he has produced Shrek 2 and team up once again with Tom Cruise for The Worlds War and has already signed for the future project: Indiana Jones 4.
Finally I’ll talk about Quentin Tarantino, who was born in Knoxville, next to Chattanooga, Tenesee in 1963. His first successful film Reservoir Dogs, hit the Sundance Film festival in 1991. The film garnered critical acclaim and the director became a legend in the England, UK and cult film circuit. Three years later he wrote and directed Pulp Fiction, which won the “Palme D?Or” at the Cannes film festival and an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay.
In 1995, Tarantino directed one fourth of the Anthology Four Rooms with friends and fellow auteurs Alexandre Roswell, Robert Rodriguez, and Allison Anders. The best two segments of the film are Robert Rodriguez’s and Tarantino’s. His next film was From Dusk Till Dawn, a crime/vampire film which he wrote and co-starred with George Clooney.
After shooting Jackie Brown, Tarantino wrote and directed Kill Bill with his muse Uma Thurman as it’s protagonist. This film’s plot was so long that had to be cut in two separated parts. As a curiosity I’ll mention that in many of his films, Tarantino’s characters appear smoking a cigarettes brand, which doesn’t exist in real life. This cigarette’s logotype has a worm coming out from an apple, and is invented by him.
Actually he is going out with Soffia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, and winner of an Oscar for Best Director for the film “Lost in Translation”.
On the one hand, this work has helped me find out more information about the seventh art in the U.S.A, where most commercial films are made. On the other hand, Jessica has helped me find out three of the biggest American director’s filmography.