Steven Spielberg: New FX Only Important as a Storytelling Tool

As a filmmaker who’s pushed the boundaries of imagination, Steven Spielberg loves adding new tech to his creative arsenal – but not for newness’ sake.

Hosting an early screening for DreamWorks and Disney’s Spielberg-produced robot boxing film “Real Steel" and anticpating tonight's debut of his sci-fi series "Terra Nova," the producer/director who made audiences believe in everything from single-minded giant sharks to UFOs to stranded aliens to revived dinosaurs tells PopcornBiz he looks carefully at each new high-tech development to tell his tales, but doesn’t feel compelled to later in some trendy technique just to test it out.

“I don't try new things just because they're new, but if it'll help tell my story better I'll try anything,” Spielberg says. “But I don't go out of my way to find things that are new only because they're novel. I try to do things within the parameters of the narratives that I've been given to direct.”

As a producer, Spielberg is watching his collaborators advance all kinds of new cinematic tricks – in “Real Steel,” for example, director Shawn Levy had a tech team on set to make increasingly minute adjustments in the “performances” of the CGI characters to more seamlessly blend with those of the live-action actors. And "Terra Nova" expands on the realistic dinosaur effects he pioneered in the original "Jurassic Park." 

“As we move deeper and deeper into the world of ‘nothing's impossible,’ there are boundaries we've broken almost on every movie that dares to be different,” says Spielberg. “And not all the boundaries are instantly apparent to the audience. But they sometimes become deeper tools in a director and a production designer's kit. And that's what's exciting.”

He look fondly back on the days when there were certain technical and practical constraints to what he could accomplish in a film and trying to innovate ways around the conventions of the day.

“In the 'Jaws' days, our imaginations were limited to the practical realities of being outdoors with a shark in salt water in the middle of the ocean,” he remembers. “But today there is nothing to fetter the imagination of a filmmaker, of a writer, of a director, of a studio. I mean, it's just wonderful. That's a benefit. I mean, I can always go back to talk about the good ol’ days, but nobody wants to hear it from me. All they want to know is 'Let's talk about the good ol’ future.'”

As he thinks about the future as both a producer and a director, Spielberg reveals that he really doesn’t have a thought-through vision for what the direction of his cinematic endeavors. For him, he says, it’s a film-by-film process.

“I don't even know until something comes along,” he admits. “Because the thing that DreamWorks has always been notable for is our eclecticism: that we don't come out with a certain kind of stock movie, and that's why it's been very hard for people to pigeonhole our company for all these years. And that's exciting for all of us. We're much more interested in what stimulates and inspires us, as opposed to having an agenda that we need to fulfill.”

"Terra Nova" debuts tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox. "Real Steel" comes to theaters everywhere October 7th.

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