10 Surprising Things Steven Spielberg Helped Create
Steven Spielberg is a considered a pioneer of cinema. He has been behind some of the best pieces of film ever to have been released. No doubt you have seen at least one of his films. Steven is also extremely versatile and has helped on a number of projects you might not realise. They are…
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Through his position as co-founder of DreamWorks, Spielberg has a lot of unlikely executive producer credits under his belt. A lot of them uncredited too.
The Prince of Egypt came at a time when DreamWorks were making a concerted effort to match the brilliance of Disney’s animated classics (and coming rather close) towards the end of the nineties.
Just Like Heaven (2005)
Perhaps even more surprising is Spielberg’s involvement in this mid-noughties piece of rom-com fluff.
Uncredited once more as executive producer (presumably in an effort not to blight his CV), Spielberg obtained the rights to produce this film from Marc Levy’s novel If Only It Were True, before handing over directorial duties to Mean Girls director Mark Waters.
Paranormal Activity (2009)
It’s unlkely that this low-budget horror flick, shot on a strict seven-day time frame and fiercely independent, would even have made it to the big screen were it not for Spielberg’s involvement.
When a DVD copy of an early cut landed on his desk, it impressed Spielberg so much (he had to stop watching the film halfway through as he was genuinely spooked by the experience, and completed it in daylight hours the next day), that he cut a deal with director Oren Peli to rejig the film for a wider release, tweaking the film’s ending to suit larger audiences.
Spielberg once again served as an uncredited executive producer, pumping funds into a film that probably won’t be remembered as one of his best projects.
Transformers series (2007 – )
While it’s no secret that Spielberg serves as executive producer behind the Michael Bay directed franchise of gargantuan robots smashing themselves into things, it’s made all the more surprising by the divisive nature of the films.
The first one was passable, and its admittedly great special effects have carried on through the three sequels we’ve seen since. They’ve just become so bloated; so indulgently long that thin plots are stretched to breaking point, and only so much dodgy scripting can gloss over the fact that it’s all style over substance.
Before the Shrek franchise went way overboard with the pop culture references, and sacrificed quality in favour of casting Jonathon Ross as an ugly stepsister, the series was the jewel in DreamWorks’ animated crown.
It’s strange to think executive producer Spielberg had a hand in creating the over-the-top fairytale world, but the director had actually been keen to adapt the picture book Shrek! for the big screen for almost a decade prior to the film’s release, acquiring the rights in 1991.
LEGO MovieMaker Kit (2000)
You see stop-motion animated LEGO movies crop up on YouTube all the time.
It’s exactly that market that LEGO were tapping into in with the release of the MovieMaker set, a Spielberg endorsed and branded package that came with a LEGO webcam, the necessary filming and editing software, and a LEGO film set to play out your creations on.
Medal of Honor series (1999 – )
It’s not just in the world of film where Spielberg has made an impact.
There was a time when World War II shooters based on real-life events were all the rage in gaming. Medal of Honor raked in review scores around the 9-out-of-10 region at the turn of the millennium and was helped in part by compelling stories devised and written by none-other than Spielberg himself, credited as a co-creator of the franchise. Spielberg’s hefty knowledge of the conflict was evidenced through films like Saving Private Ryan, but not many would have predicted that expertise could make such a successful jump to video games.
Steven Spielberg’s Directors Chair (1996)
As part of the fledgling CD-ROM medium, many developers began experimenting with ways in which PC games could be presented. This led to a surge in so-called FMV (Full Motion Video) games, a sub-genre of adventure gaming in which all of the scenes were pre-filmed, and the player’s choices progressed them through the story, determining which scenes they were able to see next.
Most of the time these were low-budget and hilariously shonky, thanks in part to amateurish acting and production values. Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair managed to be both of these things, despite featuring a plethora of Hollywood names on both sides of the camera.
This game had you ‘creating’ your own film under the guidance of Spielberg; filming, and editing pre-generated clips featuring Jennifer Aniston, Quentin Tarantino and other big names, and is fondly remembered as a bit of a cult classic.
Boom Blox (2007)
When it was announced in 2005 that Spielberg and EA were to team up to collaborate on a series of new video games, many were intrigued to see what the results would be.
Few could have predicted the unveiling of Boom Blox, a puzzle game for the Wii in which players use physics based objects to collapse towers, or prevent them from falling.
Spielberg served as a designer on the project, wanting to “create a video game that I could play with my kids” and “show [them] they can have fun playing games that are non-violent and much more creative and strategic”. Fair enough then.
How many of those did you realise then?! Bet it wasn’t that many! If like Spielberg you have a ridiculously creative streak and want to get into the wide world of film, we have the just the courses for you! Take a look, now!