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Steven Spielberg



Occupation: Funmaker ï申 Steven Spielberg
Print Occupation: Funmaker ï申 Steven Spielberg Reading Comprehension


Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.25

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    biggie, effort-Firelight, filmmaking, mega-hit, reviewer, cult, suspense, cover-up, well-received, battered, launched, overtime, fraternity, best-known, tense, plight
     content words:    Steven Spielberg, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Boy Scout, Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, California State University, Long Beach, Cinematic Arts, Universal Studios, Amblin Entertainment
Occupation: Funmaker ï申 Steven Spielberg

By Toni Lee Robinson
1     "I dream for a living." ~Steven Spielberg
 
2     Say you were asked to name a famous Hollywood filmmaker. What name would be most likely to pop into your head? It would probably be the brain behind such movies as Jurassic Park, the Indiana Jones series, and Jaws. Steven Spielberg is, without doubt, the best-known filmmaker of our time. His films are known for their action, fun, and special effects.
 
3     Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on December 18, 1946. His love affair with special effects started early. Film was actually a cover-up for what he REALLY liked to do ï申 wreck his toy trains. Filming gave the train wrecks a purpose beyond young Steven's fascination with the effects. Then his father wasn't quite so grumpy about having to fix the battered toys. Steven made real movies with plots and actors, centered on the train wrecks. He showed the films at home. His sister helped out by selling popcorn.
 
4     Spielberg won his first award when he was 13, for a 40 minute film, titled Escape to Nowhere. At the age of 16, the young film bug started doing things on a larger scale. He wrote and directed a 140 minute science fiction story. A local theater showed the movie, called Firelight. It made a profit at the box office, a taste of things to come. In the future, a local reviewer guessed, big things could be expected from the young filmmaker. Few could have guessed just how high Spielberg's star would soar.
 
5     Before his senior year of high school, Spielberg's family was split by divorce. Steven and his sister moved to California with their mother. It was a lonely, painful time for the teenager. He'd always had problems connecting with his father. Now his dad was gone completely. The friends who'd helped with his film productions were miles away.
 
6     Being a Boy Scout offered some comfort. Spielberg even helped develop a scout badge for filmmaking. He received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award for his efforts. Absent fathers later became an underlying thread in many Spielberg films. Often, the stories end with a positive resolution for lonely kids and their dads.
 
7     Spielberg moved on to California State University, Long Beach. Since the college had no film school, he majored in English. That didn't stop him from making films. Members of his fraternity became used to having Spielberg's camera recording their every move. Spielberg tried twice to get into USC's touted School of Cinematic Arts. He was turned down both times.
 
8     Driven to break into the business, Spielberg haunted the lots at Universal Studios. He jokes that his career actually began when he set up an office there in an old janitor's closet. Before long, he hit the "big time" with a contract as a TV director. His break came after a Universal exec saw Spielberg's Amblin', a 24 minute film about a 60s couple. The movie also won several awards. Spielberg later named his film company, Amblin Entertainment, after this movie.
 
9     From that time on, the filmmaker never looked back. He left college to direct, beginning with episodes of various TV series. When the studio saw his work, he was signed to direct three TV movies. The first was Duel, a thriller. It portrays Dennis Weaver as the driver of a car being menaced by a truck. Except for his feet in cowboy boots, the mysterious truck driver is never seen. The movie is tense with suspense. It has become a cult classic.

Paragraphs 10 to 16:
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