Steven Spielberg and the CSULB Film Program

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Hailed as the most popular and influential filmmakers in history, Steven Spielberg is responsible for more than 150 titles as Writer, Director and Producer.  He is responsible for three of the biggest box office grossing films of all time and recipient of two Oscars for Best Director, for Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List.  His most recent film, the bio-pic Lincoln (2012) has been nominated for more awards than any of its competitors. So did this award winning, box-office smashing, filmmaking phenomenon (and Eagle Scout) go to AFI, USC or UCLA?  The surprising answer is none of these; Spielberg went to Cal State University Long Beach, also known as CSLUB.

Now technically speaking, Spielberg dropped out of school, but with good reason.  Through the University’s many networking opportunities, he landed himself an editing internship with Universal Studios.  After the Vice President of Production saw his short film Amblin’ in 1968, Spielberg became the youngest director in history to be signed by a major studio.  Not bad for a guy who was rejected not once, but twice by the USC Theater, Television and Film program.

Spielberg went on to direct a few made for TV films, but his first box office success was the 1975 thriller Jaws.   Soon Spielberg’s calling card was his mastery of the adventure genre, with films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), but Spielberg is no one-trick pony.  He’s also the creative genius responsible for The Color Purple (1985), Amistad (1997) and The Terminal (2004). His DreamWorks Production and distribution company continues to produce and distribute both live-action and animation films, making Steven Spielberg’s wealth estimated to be around $5.2 billion dollars.

It took over 35 years but in 2002 California State University Long Beach awarded Steven Spielberg a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production and Electronic Arts under the film production option.  The school that twice rejected him, USC, awarded him an honorary degree in 1994 and he is currently a trustee of that university.

The success of Steven Spielberg serves as proof that not every great director comes out of the American Film Institute, the  University of Southern California or UCLA.  Cal State University Long Beach is also the alma mater of Disney Imaginer Tony Baxter, X-Files creator and producer Chris Carter and directors Mark Steven Johnson (Ghost Rider, Grumpy Old Men) and Joe Johnston (Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Captain America: The First Avenger).

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