AFI’s Master Class – The Art of Collaboration
Turner Classic Movies and the American Film Institute (AFI) are teaming up for an extraordinary series of quarterly specials exploring some of the greatest artistic collaborations in film today. TCM Presents: AFI’s Master Class – The Art of Collaboration will launch Tuesday, Nov. 15, with an in-depth, one-hour special focusing on the 40-year collaboration between filmmaker Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams. Upcoming specials in the series will be announced later.
“It is understood that film is a collaborative art, but the enormously successful artists featured in these specials have taken collaboration to its highest level,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TCM, TNT and TBS. “We are enormously proud to be working with the American Film Institute on this vital project, which will capture the vision and processes of artists whose collaborations have literally changed how movies are made.”
“One of the founding principles of the AFI Conservatory is that our Fellows learn from the masters,” said Bob Gazzale, president and CEO of the American Film Institute. “Thanks to Turner Classic Movies, we are proud to share their words and wisdom with the world and most honored to inaugurate the series with Steven Spielberg and John Williams, two of the greatest collaborators in the history of the art form.”
TCM Presents: AFI’s Master Class – The Art of Collaboration opens Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. (ET) with a look at the four-decade friendship and working relationship between filmmaker Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams, one of the most prolific and influential artistic collaborations in film history. Master classes are a core part of the curriculum at the AFI Conservatory, which offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in six filmmaking disciplines and was recently named the #1 film school in the world by The Hollywood Reporter. With an audience comprised solely of AFI Fellows, the two artists discuss films that inspired them and present clips from these classic films. They also present and discuss their own collaborative work to illustrate different aspects of filmmaking. Each program concludes with a Q&A session with AFI Fellows.
The Spielberg-Williams collaboration began in 1974, when Spielberg asked the composer to score The Sugarland Express (1974), the director’s first theatrical film. Familiar with Williams’ work on Mark Rydell’s adaptation of William Faulkner’s The Reivers (1969), Spielberg felt the composer could capture the right sound for his light-hearted convicts-on-the-run drama starring Goldie Hawn. Williams’ score is both haunting and playful, with legendary jazz musician Toots Thielemans, providing the harmonica solos.
Spielberg and Williams’ collaboration took off the following year with the mega-blockbuster Jaws (1975), which earned Williams the first of three Oscars he would take home for scoring Spielberg’s films. After that, there was no looking back as the pair collaborated on such popular hits as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Hook (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), Catch Me if You Can (2002), Minority Report (2002) and War of the Worlds (2005), as well as such powerful dramas as Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler’s List (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Munich (2005).
Along the way, Spielberg has taken home three Oscars for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, while Williams added statuettes for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Schindler’s List. The pair also worked together on two documentary shorts and two episodes of the television series Amazing Stories, for which Williams also wrote the theme. Today, the Spielberg-Williams collaboration continues full force, with The Adventures of Tintin and their 25th feature film collaboration, War Horse, both set for release this Christmas. Spielberg’s Lincoln, which will mark their 26th feature film together, is slated for release in 2012.
TCM will follow the premiere of TCM Presents AFI Master Class – The Art of Collaboration: Steven Spielberg and John Williams with a presentation of Saving Private Ryan, a film in which both artists went against traditional war-movie forms: Spielberg with his chaotic, non-glorifying vision of war and Williams with a score that relies on hymn-like reverence and seething, underlying tension. The evening will also include a presentation of Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960), with a score by Alex North. Williams and Spielberg both cite Kubrick and North’s work on Spartacus as influencing their collaborative point of view.