Director Steven Spielberg discusses The Fabelmans

November 7, 2022 A DGA Membership Screening Q&A in Los Angeles

A young man falls in love with cinema and aspires to become a filmmaker in Director Steven Spielberg’s coming-of-age drama, The Fabelmans.

Inspired loosely by his own experiences, Spielberg’s film tells the fictional story of Sammy Fabelman, who has a life-changing experience when his parents take him to see Cecil B. DeMille’s feature, The Greatest Show on Earth. He starts to make his own films at home and discovers how the power of movies can help him see the truth about his dysfunctional family and those around him.

On November 7, after the DGA membership screening in Los Angeles, Spielberg discussed the making of The Fabelmans during a Q&A moderated by Director Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza).

During the conversation, the veteran Director spoke about dealing with loss and why it took him so long to share this deeply personal story.

"I've been working in the industry for 54 years and it took me 52 years to make it. It would have been the same if I made it 15-20 years ago, but I would have been too self-conscious about it. I needed a perspective, I needed distance. I actually didn't know I needed it. You don't ever think, 'I need this.' But, as long as my dad and mom were here, I had parents. And when I lost my mom five years ago and I lost my dad two and a half years ago — and when you lose your parents, no matter how much you love them, and they loved you, you become an orphan — I suddenly realized making this was a mourning process of finding a way to tell our story and bring them back. For a long time, I wanted to get them on paper. And Tony Kushner (the co-screenwriter) pushed me to do it. It wasn't until I lost my parents I decided this is the time to do it."

In addition to The Fabelmans, Spielberg’s directorial credits include the feature films, Sugarland Express, 1941, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Always, Hook, Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2, A.I., Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, War of the Worlds, The Adventures of Tintin: the Secret of the Unicorn, War Horse, Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, The Post and Ready Player One. He won DGA Awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The Color Purple, Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan; and was nominated for DGA Awards in that same category for Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial, Empire of the Sun, Amistad, Munich and West Side Story. In 2000, Mr. Spielberg was honored with the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been a member of the Guild since 1971 and currently serves on the DGA National Board and the Western Directors Council.

You can listen to Spielberg's Q&A by clicking the podcast episode embedded below. You can find more DGA podcast episodes here.


Q&A photos by Shane Karns – Print courtesy of Universal Pictures

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