teven Spielberg: a name synonymous with blockbuster hits, heart-wrenching dramas, and cinematic magic. But before the Oscars, box office records, and household fame, Spielberg faced... rejection. Y

ep, the director we know for defying gravity with dinosaurs and aliens was once told he wasn't "film school material." Talk about a plot twist worthy of an Amblin production!

Spielberg's learning and school
Growing up, Spielberg admits to feeling like an outsider due to his nerdy tendencies and lack of athletic ability, making him an easy target for bullies.

He was also bullied for being one of the only Jewish families in a predominantly non-Jewish neighborhood.

In a recent interview, Spielberg revealed that he was diagnosed with dyslexia five years ago, which he considers the final piece to a personal mystery he's kept to himself.

This diagnosis helped him understand why he had such a fear of reading aloud and why he dreaded going to school.

“the last puzzle piece to a great mystery that I’ve kept to myself.” - Spielberg

“I’m in business right now where learning to read is very important. It’s of critical importance to me that I read books and scripts. It takes me about two hours and 45 minutes to read what most people can read in about an hour and 10 minutes.

"Even though his grades were not good, Spielberg was a great learner when it came to making movies. He loved telling stories through films, and that passion was more important to him than doing well in school." - Steven Spielberg

So, his success shows that learning doesn't always mean getting good grades; it's more about following what you love and working hard at it.

"I didn't go to film school. And I was self-taught, but I had great teachers. You know, all my influencers were the directors and the writers of the movies I was watching in theaters and on television. My film school was really the cultural heritage of Hollywood and international filmmaking, because there's no better teacher than Lubitsch or Hitchcock or Kurosawa or Kubrick or Ford or William Wyler or Billy Wilder or Clarence Brown. I mean, Val Lewton. I mean, those are my teachers." - Steven Spielberg 

Spielbergs early exposure to movies 

Steven Spielberg's early exposure to film was deeply influenced by his father's stories about World War II. Constantly hearing these narratives, Spielberg, driven by his fascination, began crafting his own cinematic creations.

At the age of 14, his passion for war stories led him to produce "Fighter Squadron," a black and white World War II Air Force movie. The influence of his father's tales and his avid television-watching experience ignited Spielberg's imagination, prompting him to channel his creative energy into making 8mm war movies like "Escape to Nowhere."

These early filmmaking endeavors laid the foundation for Spielberg's legendary career in the world of cinema.

But Spielberg, fueled by a passion for storytelling, didn't let rejection write his ending.

He kept crafting short films, catching the eye of Universal Studios with his sheer talent and dedication. What followed was a meteoric rise, starting with the chilling thrills of "Jaws" and the electrifying wonder of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Each film pushed boundaries, explored emotions, and redefined what a blockbuster could be.

Spielberg's Rejections 

Steven Spielberg was famously rejected from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts...not once, but three times! 

This might seem shocking considering his future filmmaking achievements, but it highlights the resilience and determination that fueled his path.

Instead of letting those rejections define him, Spielberg honed his skills independently, making short films and eventually landing an internship at Universal Studios. His talent and drive shone through, leading him to direct his first feature film, "The Sugarland Express," in his early twenties.

In demonstrating his energy and talent for storytelling, he caught the attention of his mentors at Universal, ultimately leading to his success. He made the decision to leave college and only completed his degree at Cal State Long Beach in 2002.The rest, as they say, is history.

Spielberg became a filmmaking giant, directing iconic films like "Jaws," "E.T.," "Jurassic Park," and "Schindler's List," among countless others.

Spielberg Films

Spielberg's films tackled complex themes with sensitivity and nuance, from the horrors of war ("Schindler's List") to the complexities of race ("Amistad"). He wasn't just entertaining; he was sparking conversations, challenging perspectives, and making audiences feel.

And then there's the box office defiance. Remember "Saving Private Ryan," a gritty WWII film released in the summer, usually reserved for lighter fare? It became a phenomenon, proving Spielberg's ability to captivate audiences regardless of genre or timing.

This, too, is part of the effect: defying expectations and connecting with hearts, no matter the season.

Steven Spielberg Effect

According to a study by economist Alan Krueger at Princeton University, attending an academically elite college does not necessarily increase your earnings potential compared to a less elite college.

Krueger's paper, "Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College," published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that a school's selectivity, as measured by matriculants' average SAT scores, does not correlate with students' later income once the abilities of the students upon entering college are taken into account.

This finding challenges previous studies that positively linked earnings to a college's prestige. However, Krueger and his team did find that for financially disadvantaged students, an elite education did bring greater financial rewards.

 "It appears that student ambition, as reflected in the quality of the school to which he or she applies, is a better predictor of earning success than what college they ultimately choose or which college chooses them."

The researchers refer to this phenomena as the "Steven Spielberg Effect"; the filmmaker, who was rejected by both USC and UCLA film schools, ended up attending a less prestigious program but went on to achieve tremendous success. 

The Spielberg Effect isn't just about one man's journey. It's a reminder that passion, perseverance, and a touch of audacity can rewrite your own story. It's a beacon for dreamers, a testament to the power of believing in yourself even when others doubt you.

So the next time you face rejection, remember Spielberg. Take a deep breath, grab your metaphorical camera, and start filming your own cinematic success story. The world needs your unique perspective, and who knows, you might just create the next blockbuster with a heart.

Feb 19, 2024
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