Anyone who works in the film & video industry had to start somewhere. We all came from nowhere.
Check out these small beginnings for directors that become legendary powerhouses in cinema. If anything, you can marvel at just how far filmmaker has come on a technical level because if these guys could see what students of today are doing, it would blow their minds. 4K+, amazing support gear, as many takes as you want, the list goes on. But ultimately it all comes down to what you do with the tools.
Let’s check out 5 Very Early Films from now famous Directors.
Robert Zemeckis – “A Field Of Honor”
Our first film is from Robert Zemeckis, who later went on to direct Romancing the Stone, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future (I,II,III) , Forest Gump, and many more. This short released in 1973 won Zemeckis a student academy award, and Zemeckis took it to Steven Spielburg, who became a mentor. Spielberg executive produced future Zemeckis films. The plot of this short centers around a former soldier who causes chaos after leaving a sanitarium. At 14 minutes in length, it was created while Zebecks was attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
George Lucas – “Freiheit”
The man who launched a thousand toys, George Lucas produced Freiheit in 1966 as a student at USC. Of course Lucas went on to direct Star Wars creating a worldwide phenomenon. The name of the film translated to English means “Freedom” It follows a student’s attempt to escape to freedom. Also in the film is Randal Kleiser, who went on to direct Grease.
James Cameron – “Xenogenesis”
The story goes that Cameron received $20,000 to create this film by a group of investors looking to use film as a way to avoid paying taxes. What resulted was this 12 minute film sci fi film shot on 35mm. Many Cameron cues are present, including a similarity to the robot in this film with the Hunter Killer from Cameron’s 1984 film Terminator. Also of note, is that the film stars William Wisher, who went on to co-write Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Ridley Scott – “Boy and Bicycle”
Ridley Scott filmed Boy and Bicycle while attending the Royal College of Art in London in 1962. Shot in West Hartlepool, the environment is a bleak landscape featuring water towers and blast furnaces. The plot is synopsis is as follows; “A teenage boy plays truant from school, and spends the day riding around the town and the deserted beach on his bicycle, letting his mind wander as he imagines he is the only person in the world. “Scott would go on later to reuse the elements of the film in an advertisement for Hovis, a British bread company.
Christopher Nolan – “Doodlebug”
This short three minute film from Christopher Nolan was produced in 1997 by Nolan and (now) his wife Emma Thomas. Shot on 16mm it is a gritty, grainy looking film. Starring in this short is Jeremy Theobald, who also went on to star in Nolan’s film Following in 1999. The plot is simplistic as any short should be, and concerns a man in a disgusting apartment. He is attempting to kill a bug-creature, which is later revealed to be himself, and events continue to unravel.
By today’s standards these films may seem silly,simplistic, and low-tech, but it is always inspiring to go back and look at where our film idols started, and you can still see many of their calling cards in these short films from a different time in their lives.