Saturday, September 06, 2008

Exclusive: Nancy Spielberg on Firelight, Horrorween, and More!

Hi everyone, Michael here. I recently had the incredible opportunity to chat briefly with Nancy Spielberg, sister of Steven, on the set of Horrorween in Los Angeles. Nancy will be playing the wife of Dead Body Guy Chuck Lamb in the the 3-D Horror/Comedy, which promises to revitalize true independent, low-budget guerilla filmmaking. Nancy spoke about Horrorween as well as her experience making Steven's first feature-length film, Firelight.

MarketSaw: What was it like making Firelight with Steven as a kid?

Picture 1: A scene from Firelight

NS: Firelight was my brother's first big film that won him his first award, I think, as a teenage filmmaker. I was about 7 or 8 at the time. We grew up in Arizona--it was about 110 degrees, there was nothing to do except go to the library and take out books, and we didn't really want to do that. So my brother would make films and he would get all of his high school buddies, and I don't know how my mother allowed it, but she allowed him to turn our house totally upside down into a set. Not only that, but he was too young to drive, so she had to be the driver in certain scenes. So that's what we did one summer. My sister and I did special effects, and my other sister was his script girl and had to get punched in the arm all the time. I was an actor in the film, and my sister was also an alien. So we did everything we had to do. And it was a cool experience. It was a lot of hard work, but the fun part was--way back then being directed by Steven Spielberg, you know, was a pain in the ass, because I had to die, and I was a little girl crawling in the grass and there was this throbbing light force, which was this alien force that was coming from another planet, and he said, "look up and reach for it." The sun's right there, and it's Arizona, it's hundreds of degrees, and I'm squinting, and he says "stop squinting!"(laughs)

MarketSaw: So you were living in Arizona at the time?

NS: Yeah, we grew up in Arizona. I was about 6 months old, my brother was about 10, and we spent most of our formative years there growing up in the desert. There was nothing there...It was early early, with Indian reservations, and that was it. No air conditioners!

MarketSaw: It sounds like you had a great backdrop for the film...

NS: It was great! He did a lot of war films, a lot of Cowboy and Indian things in the desert, and Firelight we did all over the place.

Picture 2: Nancy Spielberg (left) & Raquel Brussolo on the set of Horrorween

MarketSaw: Was your character abducted?

NS: I was actually disintegrated and moved to another planet. There were blue and red firelights. One color disintegrated living objects, the other inanimate objects. The aliens from another planet literally took us, and put us on a different planet. They took over our brains, almost like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. So, yeah, I just had to crouch, crawl in the grass, and leap towards this pulsating light because I was a curious little child. I was squinting, and my brother kept saying, "stop squinting!", "open your eyes!" I was going blind because the sun was right in my eyes. So you couldn't say no to me. So he got his shot.

MarketSaw: Did you go to California when your brother shopped the film? The story I heard was that he gave a reel or two of the film to a producer as a sample, and that this producer closed down shop and disappeared with the reel.

NS: That's a good question, I don't even know for sure. I think one reel is lost and Steve has the rest. I'm not sure who has the missing reel.

MarketSaw: Is the film commercially available?

NS: No, but it should be! Maybe one day. I know they've shown little clips of it, in "this is his life" type documentaries...but it's never been available.

MarketSaw: How did you first hear about Horrorween? How did you get connected to it?

NS: I'm involved in a charity called "Children of Chernobyl," and one of the women that's involved with it--Joycelyn Engle, a producer--is friends with [Horrorween producer] Ed Meyer. Ed had donated a few walk-on roles on Horrorween for our big celebrity auction that we sold for big money for charity. Also, both of my girls love to act, and we thought being in Horrorween would be a great family experience. They are multi-talented in many ways, with very strong personalities. My younger one directs films, and I would really love her to do that because you have such power behind the camera. And that is how my brother got started, really. My brother was a misfit as a kid, and as a boyscout he couldn't find all the medals and badges he needed, because he couldn't physically do pushups, pull-ups, etc. So he suggested to his troop leaders, "Can I make a film, and get my badge like that?" And he did, and suddenly all the boyscouts wanted to be his friend, all these guys who thought he was a nerd. So it started like that.

Picture 3 (left to right): Director Joe Estevez, actors Devon Greenbaum, Melissa Katz, Jessica Katz, Nancy Spielberg, and Raquel Brussolo discuss a shot

MarketSaw: Have you done any acting between Firelight and Horrorween?

NS: We were extras in some of Steven's films, and other little things like that. I've done production work. I prefer that to acting. Actually, [Nancy's daughter] Melissa made a film called "Montezuma's Revenge" that I was in. That was shot in Puerta Vallarta and in LA. A multi-location, high-budget film with a lot of Kung-Fu fighting. It was very Charlie's Angels! Steven saw that and said it was very smart, sassy filmmaking. He thought Mellisa made great actors out of her parents!

MarketSaw: Have you heard anything about Steven's next film, the 3-D Tintin?

NS: Right now he's in the Hamptons, still hanging out, having some summer time, reading some scripts. I think they're shooting in September. I'm not too sure though, because when we get together, the first conversation is "what are my kids doing?, "what are your kids doing?" Then we talk about the parents...a lot of times we don't talk business. I was actually disappointed that he is not doing Chicago 7 because Sacha Baron Cohen is in it, and I love him.

MarketSaw: Can you tell me more about your charity work?

NS: We do a lot of charity work. One of the main ones is the Chabad's Children of Chernobyl (CCOC), which helps kids from the former Soviet Union who are basically dying, and very ill from radiation contamination. We do a big celebrity auction, meaning it's a big festive event with a celebrity presence with great auction items such as walk-on roles in films, days on the set, or other cool things like cars or art. It's a big black tie event..we sell out, it costs a lot of money. Our next big celebrity auction for CCOC is in New York, on November 24. The event itself is called Children at Heart. CCOC is the only group that permanently evacuates kids and provides them with medical help, housing, education psychological counseling, summer camp--everything they need to live their lives and live a happy life. We also do a couple of other children's charities. Most of our charities are kid oriented. And then we do all kinds of little things, such as history documentaries for public television...but I'm a mama first!

Ed Meyer and Joe Estevez are making Horrorween in the style that Steven and Nancy Spielberg started making films--very guerilla, simplistic, and "real" filmmaking. It's great that this style of filmmaking is being preserved in a world where every major film studio is owned by a vertically integrated mega-corporation.

Thanks so much to Nancy Spielberg, Ed Meyer, and Joe Estevez for arranging this interview!

Find out more about Chabab's Children of Chernobyl at their official website.

Read more about Horrorween at its IMDB page as well as

Set photos by Hans Nilsson

Horrorween is scheduled for release in 3-D on October 30, 2009.

Contact Me

Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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