The Godzilla director on Steven Spielberg igniting his passion for filmmaking
Most kids wanted to be Elliott from ET – I wanted to be Spielberg.
When I saw that movie, I wanted to be the person who made it. If you asked me growing up what I wanted to be, I’d have said a director, like my role model, Steven Spielberg.
Initially, I had no idea how to get into filmmaking.
There wasn’t an obvious path, but I had this book, The Steven Spielberg Story. I read the chapters about him growing up and how he got his first directing jobs over and over again. He didn’t go to film school, but he made a movie with his own money and Universal saw that and offered him a contract directing. So, I felt that was how I’d do it – make a short and send it to Universal. I heard nothing back, so I went to film school and spent a decade learning.
Getting Spielberg’s seal of approval was a massive deal.
I was out with friends at a bar when Godzilla came out. My phone came up with a video message from Peter Jackson’s wife, and I clicked on it but couldn’t tell who it was – I’d had a few drinks as well, so… I went outside, hit play and it was Steven Spielberg. Peter Jackson had recorded him talking about Godzilla, and he was very kind about it. I collapsed. It meant so much – to have a message from my hero just threw me. I would trade everything that happened from Godzilla for that.
You always want to emulate your heroes.
There’s the box office, what critics think, what your mum thinks, but hearing something nice from Spielberg… I would trade an Oscar for that. It’s the reason I’m doing it. He’s very good at supporting young filmmakers and I think he knows he’s everybody’s role model.
I never expected to meet him, but I hoped one day I would.
I got to meet him at his offices in LA. I think he knew how much it meant to me, so he was very supportive. Like him, I help people on their way up because I know if it hadn’t been for certain people, I wouldn’t have had the chance to make Monsters or Godzilla. I’d like to give [new filmmakers] opportunities that were given to me.
Godzilla is out now on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD