Close Encounters of the Spielberg Kind
By Dante on December 5th, 2011
“We’re here to see Steven Spielberg.”
Never in a million years did I think those words would be coming out of my mouth. But there I was, along with Kid Reporter Damien Murphy, his mom, and a videographer, standing in the DreamWorks reception area, checking in for our interview with the legendary filmmaker. He has two movies coming out this year — The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse — and we were here to talk to him about Tintin, primarily, but other stuff, too.
As I checked us in, I’m pretty sure I had a wry grin on my face. Outside the gates of this backlot I was 29 years old; inside them I was 9. Spielberg was one of the architects of my childhood thanks to E.T., Jurassic Park, and especially Indiana Jones. And everywhere I looked I was geeking out. At the gate to DreamWorks is a big stone with the Amblin Entertainment logo carved into it. In reception was an early sound motion picture camera, given to Spielberg after he made E.T. And outside, across from the main building (an intimate, Spanish-style structure) is a well with a small replica Jaws poking out of it, a la the poster for the film.
Honestly, it was hard to tell who was more excited — me or Damien. Damien was the one doing the interview, and Spielberg is his favorite director of all time. As we prepped, Damien was full of energy and running on nerves and adrenaline and totally geeking out, too. Ben, our video guy, was all pro, setting up cameras and lights and mics and getting everything ready, trying to calm Damien down as I prepped for still shots. (He would geek out later.) Damien’s mom was pretty excited, too, but she gave Damien his space as we got ready for the interview.
Finally, the heavy wooden doors in our room opened and Steven Spielberg walked in. And everyone stopped. Just dead silence. I thought he would introduce himself to Damien first, but since Damien’s mom and I were right by the door, he looked at us. I stammered like a buffoon, extended my hand, and said what I think was “It’s nice to meet you.” Damien was a lot cooler — and not because he was wearing a vest and newsboy hat. Spielberg, to his credit, was great about making small talk to deflate the heavy air in the room. As he took his seat and Ben mic’ed him up, we talked a bit about the Amblin logo and he and Damien talked about making movies. And when the interview began, all of Damien’s nerves were gone and he was as cool and collected as any adult journalist. More so, even.
At the end of the interview, about 20 minutes later, Spielberg was gracious and patient as we asked for photos — Damien for his story, me for this blog post. I told him how different my life would have been without his movies, he said that was very nice of me to say, we wrapped up, shook hands, and he was gone, disappearing through those big wooden doors and back into our imagination.
Damien’s interview went live this morning. Check it out on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website!
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