It was the Boy Scouts that started Steven Spielberg on the path to becoming a filmmaker. When his father’s camera was broken, a very young Spielberg instead took his dad’s movie camera to complete a project for his photography merit badge. And the rest, as they say, is history. By age sixteen, in 1964, the budding director was diving into features, and made an epic sci-fi movie, “Firelight,” for just over $3700. The 135-minute movie screened at a local theater and it was going to be Spielberg’s calling card to the industry… until the production company holding the reels went out of business and lost his material.
But four minutes of footage managed to survive, and the folks at No Film School brought it to our attention. It’s exactly what you might expect from a teenage Spielberg, with the footage owing a serious debt to classic sci-fi movies of the ’40s and ’50s. What was it about? Here’s a synopsis via Lost Media:
Firelight centers around a group of scientists (namely, Tony Karcher and Howard Richards, the latter of which identifies as a UFO believer) in the fictional town of Freeport, Arizona. They begin witnessing strange coloured lights in the sky, before a plethora of bizarre disappearances take place (animals, humans and inanimate objects alike). The film contains sub-plots involving…Richards’ obsessive quest to prove the existence of aliens to the CIA…Firelight’s twist ending sees three aliens (represented only by shadows) descending on the Earth, revealing their plans to abduct the entire town of Freeport for the purpose of creating a human zoo, back on their home planet of Altaris.
This is a pretty terrific look at Spielberg honing the skills that, 13 years later, would deliver “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.” Watch below.