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Steven Spielberg - Creativity and FilmsSteven Spielberg - Creativity and Films


Steven Spielberg (1946- )


American film producer and director (pictured right) of many popular classics including:

  • Jaws.
  • the Indiana Jones films (like Raiders of the Lost Ark).

Co-founder of the film production company, DreamWorks, which made the Shrek movies.


Why is he so creative and successful?


1. Customer satisfaction

He keeps customers happy through:


a) entertainment

(with great special effects, action and suspense).

 Steven Spielberg - Creativity and Films

b) communication  

His best films communicate a meaningful and heartfelt message.

For example, Schindler’s List (pictured right) movingly potrays the Holocaust.

Spielberg is Jewish and had a relative killed at Auschwitz.


c) involvement

“I’ve wanted to try to involve the audience as much as I can, so they no longer think they’re sitting in an audience”, he says.


2. Determination

He has been totally determined to be a great film maker, despite his rare failures (particularly a comedy, 1941).

 Steven Spielberg - Creativity and Films

3. Believable characters

He makes his characters come to life, just like Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (pictured right), which he greatly admires.

This is how he created the extraterrestrial creature E.T. (pictured right below):


a) set his objective for E.T.

(“to convey the wisdom of age and the innocence of childhood”)

This reinforced the film’s main themes of love and family.

 Steven Spielberg - Creativity and Films

b) made a collage 

(to roughly outline E.T.’s features for the model designer)

For the collage, Spielberg used photographs of the:

  • eyes of poet Carl Sandburg.
  • nose of writer, Ernest Hemingway.

Spielberg learned from Disney that the most lovable faces are like a baby’s with:

  • big eyes.
  • wide forehead. Steven Spielberg - Creativity and Films


c) pressured the designer to make a model

He wanted nine months to do it, Spielberg gave him six.


d) used sound effects

  • the calls of otters and other wild animals for E.T.’s snuffling sounds.
  • the voice of actress, Debra Winger (pictured right above in 2009).

 Steven Spielberg - Creativity and Films

e)  added other special touches

(like E.T. transmitting love with his glowing finger).



4. Technical skill

He’s an expert on everything to do with film making.


5. Continuous learning

He constantly learns from:Steven Spielberg - Creativity and Films

  • television.
  • great films and directors (his favourites are Lawrence of Arabia and its director, David Lean, pictured right).
  • discussing his film ideas with other people.
  • experience.

He  learned the visual power of light as a small boy in the synagogue and watching a beautiful meteor shower with his father.


6. Insecurity

His insecurity as a child (reinforced by constantly moving and losing his friends) fed his imagination.

For example, he imagined friendly, little people living in a crack in the wall by his bed.

His biggest blow was the divorce of his mother and father.

So family is very important in his films.


7. Perfectionist


  • has extremely high standards.
  • is very tough on people who don’t perform well enough.

He threw snakes at the head of Indiana Jones’s girlfriend in Raiders of the Lost Ark, because she didn’t look frightened enough!

 Steven Spielberg - Creativity and Films

8. Loves hard work

He’s a workaholic who eats, sleeps and breathes movies.

He spent hours studying the Holocaust for Schindler’s List (the film poster is pictured right) including watching a 10 hour film four times!

As a student at film school in California, he worked as a classroom film projectionist to pay his fees.


9. Teamwork and communication


  • listens to the views of the cast and crew.
  • tells them clearly what he wants (taking into account their views).
  • sees them as his family (showing them old movies after work and taking the actors out to dinner before filming).


10. Relaxation

To refresh his mind after working so hard, he loves:

  • computer games.
  • humour.
  • time with his wife and five children.  


Key quotes on creativity and films

I dream for a living.

The public has an appetite for anything about imagination – anything that is as far away from reality as is creatively possible.

If a person can tell me the idea in twenty five words or less, it’s going to make a pretty good movie.


Key quote on success

Failure is inevitable. Success is elusive.

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