Steven Spielberg (right) and his wife Kate Capshaw pose for a photo as they arrive for the French pre-premiere of “War Horse” in Paris, Monday. (AP-Yonhap News)
PARIS (AFP) ― Steven Spielberg caught the filmmaking bug as a 12-year-old boy, and half a century on still goes “crazy” when he doesn’t have a story to tell, he admitted to fans packing a masterclass in Paris Monday night.
Greeted with a standing ovation, the U.S. director ― whose works from “E.T.” to “Indiana Jones” are the focus of a retrospective at Paris’ Cinematheque film centre ― told the room in French, hand on his heart: “Je t’aime!”
“I’m a storyteller,” the 65-year-old told the filmmaking masterclass between screenings of his new film “War Horse.” “For a long time movies were everything in my life ― and if I don’t have a story to tell I go crazy.”
“Ask my wife and my kids what’s it’s like to have me without a movie in my immediate future to direct!” he quipped. “I’m a terrible person to live with!”
“I mope, I walk around the house in a terrible state, I’m miserable!”
Spielberg joked. “So my family is the first to call my company and say ‘Is there anything in the files he can direct? Please help us!’”
Revealed to film buffs with the 1971 car chase thriller “Duel,” then to the mainstream with “Jaws” in 1975, Spielberg has shot more than 30 feature films as well as a string of productions for television, from episodes of “Columbo” to the hit series “Band of Brothers” in 2001.
“I got starting making movies as a kid because I couldn’t think of anything more fun to do,” Spielberg recalled. “When I was 13 there was absolutely nothing that interested me more than to take a movie camera and tell a three, four minute story.”
“And when I make a movie today, I get that same energy, the same excitement,” he said. “I remember the same feeling at 12, 13 years old, as the feeling I still had as I turned 65. That has never gone away.”
The director has been something of a work horse of late, directing the 3-D blockbuster “Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn,” which hit screens in late 2011, before launching straight into “War Horse.”
When in the grip of a story ― as was the case for “War Horse” which he based on a children’s book by British writer Michael Morpurgo, and a play adaptation by Nick Stafford ― Spielberg works non-stop.
“From the time we started working on the script, to the time I called action for the first time in Devon (in southwestern England), was seven months,” he said, “which as you know is a very, very short time.”