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Remembering When Steven Spielberg Wanted To Create A Universal Film School With Quentin Tarantino

Remembering When Steven Spielberg Wanted To Create A Universal Film School With Quentin Tarantino (photo)

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Steven Spielberg has been out of the public eye for the last few years, but that’s all about to change this week. 2011 will actually be one of the most prolific years for the famed director ever, with his long-gestating motion-capture project “Adventures of Tintin” and the drama “War Horse” being released within a week of each other over the holidays, the premieres of his two sci-fi television series “Falling Skies” and “Terra Nova” in the fall and summer, and of course, this week’s “Super 8,” which may be the project he’s least personally invested in, but bears his greatest imprint. That’s because Spielberg doesn’t only serve as a producer on JJ Abrams‘ alien invasion thriller, but one of its prime influences and perhaps the only thing that hasn’t been kept secret about the film and though an entire generation of filmmakers will credit the “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” director for getting into the business, few actually have been able to be taken under his wing as Abrams has.

However, “Super 8” has oddly not inspired as much nostalgia for the Amblin years for me as it has for the time when Spielberg aimed to mentor millions, despite the fact that upon its 15th anniversary this year it’s little remembered. Back in 1996, “Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair” debuted and was according to Spielberg, “a film school in a box,” a CD-ROM game spread over three discs that allowed users to helm a film starring Quentin Tarantino (during his “Destiny Turns on the Radio” acting phase following “Pulp Fiction”) and Jennifer Aniston as a death row inmate and his girlfriend, respectively. Nascent filmmakers could consult with future “Pirates of the Caribbean” screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, Spielberg’s longtime editor Michael Kahn and “Jurassic Park” cinematographer Dean Cundey as they pointed and clicked through a series of videos that took them through the process of making a film from the script stage through its premiere, with Spielberg guiding the way.

Here’s the trailer, and its accompanying behind the scenes footage that just may be the most entertaining thing you’ll watch all day as Spielberg talks about “Director’s Chair”‘s worldwide prospects, Aniston’s praise of “a situation you’d cut of your right arm as an actor to be in,” and Tarantino’s admonishment that “a whole generation of filmmakers could really come out versed in editing” from the game:

“Director’s Chair” actually wound up being a little too accurate to the filmmaking process, proving tedious for most as it tested its audience’s patience with too many decisions about camera setups and lengthy loadtimes. Asylum.com once ranked it number nine on their list of the “10 Worst Celebrity Video Games” ever. But the experience didn’t sour Spielberg on games or attempting to give novices a a leg up, although he was far more successful at the former with his creation of the “Medal of Honor” series than he was at the latter when he tried his hand at a reality TV competition in 2007 with “On the Lot,” the Fox series where a group of filmmakers competed for a DreamWorks contract that he bailed on almost as quickly as its original host Chelsea Handler did when it was obvious the ratings weren’t up to snuff. But Spielberg’s always been at his best when not working with raw talent and besides, he’s always got a day job to fall back on.

Did you have a copy of “Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair”? It’s okay to tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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