Watch: 2-Hour Discussion With JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg & James Cameron

A few weeks ago as part of their 75th anniversary the Directors Guild of America held a tribute to Steven Spielberg which featured an A-list panel with Star Trek director JJ Abrams and Avatar director James Cameron chatting with Spielberg. Video for that 2-hour discussion is now available online. 


Watch 2 Hour Talk With Spielberg, Abrams and Cameron

Here is the official description from the DGA:

As part of the DGA’s 75th Anniversary, DGA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and three-time DGA Award winner, Steven Spielberg, was celebrated on June 11, 2011. Featuring a lively and engaging panel discussion with fellow visionary directors J.J. Abrams (Super 8) and James Cameron (Avatar), and moderated by 75th Anniversary Committee Chair Michael Apted, this "Game-Changer" event drew a maximum capacity crowd at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles and provided a deeply intimate, highly engaging reflection on one of the most influential and beloved filmmakers of all time.

The video from the DGA is not embeddable, but you can click the image below to view it at the DGA site.



More details on the event from the DGA

"Spielberg’s films are a permanent part of our cultural identity," said DGA President Taylor Hackford, "and his influence on modern cinema cannot be understated." DGA 75th Anniversary Committee chair and event moderator, Michael Apted, next welcomed Spielberg to the stage along with special guests J.J. Abrams and James Cameron. Abrams and Cameron selected three clips apiece from Spielberg’s prolific 40-year career—no small feat, according to Cameron, who noted the difficulty in choosing only three moments out of Spielberg’s truly prolific body of work. Classic moments from Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, were screened and then discussed with an energetic audience. Each carefully chosen clip illustrated the points each panelist felt important to make about Steven’s films and his influence on their own work, both professionally and personally.

Applauding Spielberg’s passion and childlike enthusiasm for the open wonder of possibility, Cameron and Abrams listened intently as Spielberg explained how he balanced the "magic of the moment with the necessary architecture of each scene." Spielberg was vividly forthright in discussing everything from dealing with a disastrous first day of shooting on Jaws, thanks to an inebriated Robert Shaw, to the creative genesis of Close Encounters which led to the discovery that the key to accessibility in science fiction is personal, human relationships: "Create characters you really want to be with."

Abrams selected the "Flying Wing" fist fight from Raiders of the Lost Ark, which Spielberg explained to be a case of pure collaborative inspiration, made up entirely on-the-fly as they went along. Spielberg was touchingly candid in discussing E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (also an Abrams selection), revealing he wanted to "take those kids home with me. I didn’t have kids before E.T., but making E.T. made me want to have kids."

The final set of clips, selected by Cameron, were touchstone moments from the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park and the DGA Award-winning Schindler’s List. Spielberg explained it took 10 years before he felt he could do the Schindler story justice. "I was afraid of doing anything to sanitize it or sweeten it or put it any other context than semi-documentary– which I had never done before." He felt it the "most important" film he’s ever made and the one he is most proud of. Polar opposites in subject matter and style, Spielberg helmed both films in tandem. He would fly to Poland for principal work on Schindler then video-conference back to the States to review the dailies on Jurassic Park. The revolutionary digital technology of Jurassic Park led to the revelation that, although open-minded to new technology, Spielberg is admittedly "old school" in that he still cuts on film. "I’m just not ready for digital, Jim," Spielberg told Cameron, to much laughter.

Apted closed the night with a probing two-part question: Who was the game-changing influence for Spielberg, and why was Spielberg a game-changer for Abrams and Cameron. For Spielberg, the biggest game changer to affect his life was Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. "I’m still living off the adrenaline that I experienced in 1968 watching that film at the Pantages for the first time."

When Apted turned the question on Abrams and Cameron, Abrams said he most admired Spielberg’s sense of "looking at the world as though anything is possible. Your films are a physical manifestation of the potential of possibility." Cameron’s response was a fitting closer to the evening by drawing attention to the evolution of the work of Stanley Kubrick to the work of Steven Spielberg, in that there is "the humanization of imagination. I’m not sure I could have got to where I am without your films."

h/t to Slashfilm

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does anyone else think it would be cool if Spielberg partnered with the boys on the next ST film… just saying

^ No.

I would have asked Spielberg about Indy 4 and why he thinks he can make 5!

I think the quality variable in Indy films is Lucas, not Spielberg.

I must say,I love Spielberg and I love JJ,but,(I know what your thinking,’oh no! she’s gonna start trashin’!!’) but,I don’t think Trek is for Spielberg. I mean,I just don’t think it could work;the last thing I want to see is Kirk and Spock beaming down unto a nice little place to only find out the water is unsafe due to Jaws!! :) But really,joking aside,I don’t think it’s his thing,no.that should be left to Bob,JJ,and co.!

JJ your peers are now James Cameron & Steven Spielberg…thats great !

Can you now hawl ass and devote your time to the next Star trek Film pls, like lickety split !

This headline sent my pulse racing into geekboy overdrive. What a mix of minds, and no measly 2-minute walk-and-chat or something puny–two hours!

Thank you! I promise, I won’t snipe about lens flares for at least 6 months!

Re #2- Schultz- Yes. Bring John Williams while they’re at it….
Those are two things they could do to assuage my bad feelings about the delay..

Spielberg directing Trek would be for the ages, an instant classic. He is the one who made Indy 4 bearable even though it wasn’t very good overall. He always does a good job with a bad script, which unfortunately, Lucas is quick to greenlight.
Howard the Duck, Star Wars 1, 2 ,3. among others…..
I really don’t want to see a Star Wars 7, 8 and 9, but I suppose I’d have to. But Spielberg on a Trek would be a must-see.

@ 1. jamesingeneva

Spielberg dropped out of Doctor Who so I can’t see him messing around with Star trek

Thanks so much for posting this.

I hope JJ was able to ask Jim Cameron some pertinent questions on how to make a sequel stand toe to toe with the original, especially when the sequel is released many years later (Insert hint to hurry up here)- after all JC has done it twice with Aliens and Terminator 2.

It can be done without losing momentum and I know that I will be buying a weekly ticket for as many weeks as it screens when it hits the cinema.

What is needed between the studio and the fans is a compromise like this: We, the fans promise to come and enjoy the next Star Trek movie and you, the writing team, director and studio promise to deliver a quality product within a reasonable time frame with an absolute release date. The ball is in both courts.

In closing, Mr Spielberg is a film making God, both as producer and director. I am so glad that Jurassic Park is finally coming to Blu-Ray in October.

JJ Abrams is gonna be huge, which is fantastic for Star Trek.

I would perhaps enjoy a collaborative effort between Spielberg and Abrams on the next Star Trek movie – Spielberg as Executive Producer perhaps?

Why is Abrams even being mentioned in the same breath as Spielberg and Cameron already? Compare the careers of the 3 and Abrams clearly has a long way to go, but this almost makes him look like a contemporary.

What a panel.
What a moment.
I enjoyed every second of it.

Apparently, Mr. Spielberg started shooting Schindler’s List all the while shooting
Jurassic Park….Evidently, it was not easy, but, definitely possible.

Oh! At some point in the future, how I would like to hear that, a long time ago,
Mr. Abrams received some invaluable tips on the best ways to manage shooting (secretly or not ) several (or at least… two ) movies at the same time…….

After all, these two men have known each other for years. And, Mr. Spielberg
mentored Mr. Abrams,so, I don’t rule out that possibility…….


P.S. : Did I hear correctly ? Mr. Spielberg is a “chocoholic” ?! If so , hi Steven , my name is Aurore, and, I’m a chocoholic too.

I like chocolate. Neat.

“I like chocolate. Neat.”

Truer words were never spoken, or, written, on this site , before .

( What did you think of the panel discussion? Don’t answer

if you’re busy eating .).



Peers? Are you kidding me? The guy hasn’t made one great film, no, I’ll lower that standard–he hasn’t made one very good film, and now he’s their peer?

I continue to be amazed at the esteem Abrams appears to have, not only on this site, but in the industry as well. He is incredibly over-rated as a film director.

… and as a producer, if anyone else would have botched the TREK sequel the way he has, they would have been roasted alive, but not him. It must be nice to get the passes and praise he does without really earning it.

If JJ couldnt direct the next one it would be a dream to have a director like James Cameron take the reigns

Who’s the kid on stage?


I wish Spielberg would have discussed what is taking so long for him getting to his proposed remake of “When Worlds Collide.”

I have tremendous respect for Spielberg, and his body of work pretty much speaks for itself. In reviewing his filmography, I noted that even a superior film-maker can occasionally miss the mark (as with “Hook,” “I. J. and the Temple of Doom,” and maybe a few others), and is not without critics. But he has always been able to bounce back, and has given us some incredibly intense, thematically powerful films. His affinity toward sci-fi has always been an attraction for me, and I tend to look forward to those films more enthusiastically than the real-life drama oriented films.

I’m really looking foward to “Interstellar.” I’d hope Abrams will direct the Star Trek sequel. And I’d like to see Cameron attach all that amazing technology to a truly unique, original, intriguing film. Ok, so it’s a pretty big Christmas list…

From what I hear Spielberg gave Abrams alot of creative suggestions for filming Star Trek. Especially in the Bridge scenes, so in a sense that partnership has already happened.

There are plenty of trek fans who happen to think trek 09 n jjs direction were very close to great directing like spielberg gave us on most of his movies–jj knows how to stage action with strong characters we care about—super 8 is a great example as is trek09–many of us have faith that trek is in the best hands its ever been—jj rocks

Also for the record i think even less than perfect spielberg movies have plenty of magic in em-hook has a great concept/update and williams music is incredibly great–also love the casting of hook n smee-brilliant–robin williams is miscast as pan n julia roberts was disappointing as a too modern tink–hook woulda been better without williams n roberts–indy doom is different in style to raiders but still entertaining as hell-brillisnt at times–short round a clasdic character-