Spielberg, Abrams make 'Super 8' fun, actor says
BY GENE TRIPLETT
There were certain advantages to being a kid on the set of “Super 8.”
For one thing, Ryan Lee, 14, found it easy to interact with the film’s storied producer, Steven Spielberg, and writer-director J.J. Abrams, who’s helmed such megahits as “Mission:
Impossible III” and “Star Trek.”
“He was a really cool guy,” Lee said of Spielberg in a recent phone interview his hometown of Austin, Texas. “At first he was really intimidating for me, but as soon as you’re about to shake the hand of one of the most influential men in the world, it’s an experience I’ll never forget. After that, I mean after you get to the point of the first second of meeting him, you’re already friends with him.
“He would talk to us about things, about like what apps to get on your iPhone or, you know, stuff like that. And he would tell us how good we were doing in our movie.”
Lee also rated Abrams high on the kid-friendly chart.
“He’s the best,” he said of the director. “You always hear those horror stories of directors getting mad, and J.J. never lost his temper once over the 60 days (of shooting). And I mean with six kids, to not lose your temper once, I think that’s pretty amazing.”
Indeed, no one could be better suited to making a movie about six kids making a movie than the team of Spielberg and Abrams, whose childhood experiences closely resembled those depicted in “Super 8.”
Abrams was 8 when he discovered the wonders of a Super 8 camera, a format introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1965. It was at that tender age that Abrams started shooting his own movies about epic chases and intergalactic battles and very scary monsters.
Spielberg also began shooting his own 8 millimeter films in his early teens, sometimes staging wrecks with his Lionel electric train set.
When Abrams was 15, he and childhood friend Matt Reeves (later the director of “Cloverfield”) entered their work in a Super 8 film festival and caught the attention of the Los Angeles Times, which dubbed them “The Beardless Warriors” in a feature article. Soon after, they were contacted by Spielberg assistant Kathleen Kennedy and offered the chance to cut together Spielberg’s childhood home movies. It was the beginning of a beautiful working relationship.
Flash forward to 2011. Abrams and Spielberg (now 44 and 64, respectively) have fashioned a potential summer blockbuster around a screenplay written by Abrams about six kids in a small Ohio town making a zombie movie in summer 1979. While shooting with their Super 8 camera, they witness a catastrophic train crash, barely escaping injury themselves.
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