This Time, Steven Spielberg Faces the Camera

By Ashley Morton


Spielberg timelines director Steven Spielberg’s journey from young outsider to celebrated artist through stories from the seminal filmmaker as well as his colleagues, friends and family. The documentary’s award-winning director, Susan Lacy, and its eponymous subject were on hand at the 2017 New York Film Festival to speak about the film.

The Right Place at the Right Time

“I’ve wanted to make a film about Steven Spielberg for a long time,” admitted Lacy when asked why it was the right moment to tell his story. “And then he was ready and it all came together wonderfully. I’m very grateful.”

“I keep saying this,” she said to him, “but perhaps your turning 70 had something to do with your willingness to tell this story. I may be wrong.”

Spielberg jokingly responded, “I think it also was a lot easier than sitting down and writing an autobiography.”

From the Screen to the Spoken Word

Spielberg emphasizes in the documentary that his films are a way to express his own personal stories. Speaking about them came naturally, he explained, “because I found myself making discoveries through Susan’s probing questions.” Adding, “It was a little bit like Gestalt therapy! I was able to realize, ‘Oh perhaps that’s what I intended 30 years ago.’ But it’s not something I dwell on or think about in my every day working life or private life. This documentary helped me put a lot of things together and fill a lot of gaps.”

A Good Problem to Have

Few directors have a catalog of films as vast and genre-mixing as Steven Spielberg. Lacy acknowledged, “There are films I would have loved to have included but couldn’t — A.I. Artificial Intelligence is actually one I’m a big fan of, I think there’s a very interesting story there.”

“But nothing is in the film that doesn’t advance the story,” she continued, “and that was the key — there were lots of interesting stories, but does it tell Steven’s story? Does it move us forward on this journey? If it didn’t, it didn’t make it in. So everything’s there for a purpose, and that made it a little easier to choose.”