Director Steven Spielberg, picking up a lifetime achievement award at the Berlin Film Festival, said the prospect of making new films continued to excite him at 76, and unveiled new details of his planned HBO series.
The director, whose credits include some of the biggest-grossing and best-loved works in cinema history, including ET The Extra-Terrestrial and Jaws, has just finished two films back to back: The semi-autobiographical The Fabelmans and West Side Story, a film of the classic Broadway musical.
“Whatever seized me as a little kid is the same feeling I retained all those decades later,” he told reporters on Tuesday (Feb 21). “When I find a book or a script or come up with an original idea that I think would make a good movie: that excitement … supersedes everything.”
Spielberg, professing he “loves to work and needs to work”, is finalising a script left unfinished by his friend Stanley Kubrick at the time of his death in 1999.
“We’re mounting a large production for HBO based on Stanley’s original script Napoleon,” he said. “A seven-part limited series.”
Reflecting on the past two years of frenetic film-making, Spielberg said the pandemic prompted him to revisit his childhood in The Fabelmans.
“My mom used to say: ‘I’ve given you so much good material. When are you going to use that material?'” he said. “The fear I felt about the pandemic gave me the courage to tell my personal story.”
Spielberg, known for his accessible, compelling movies, advised would-be filmmakers to start with the story.
“If you want to be a movie director, first of all write,” he said. “Because it’s the stories that are going to get an audience to pay attention to you, not the shots.”