In 1964, when he was just 17 years old, Steven Spielberg made a film called Firelight for only $500. Clocking in at 135 minutes long, Firelight was screened at a local theater for one night only. Tickets for the screening were only $1, and according to the director, the film actually made a profit of exactly $1. Sadly, Firelight was considered lost after its production company went out of business. Only two reels of the movie exist today, but luckily we can now see about four minutes of footage from the film.
Firelight was brought to our attention by No Film School and is the only bit of the movie that is readily available to watch. Firelight shows a lot of promise from the budding director, and the subject material foreshadows Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Here’s the synopsis from 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.
The footage itself is crude, and it appears that part of the four minutes do not include sound, but if you’re interested in watching what Spielberg’s career was like in the early days, Firelight is a must-see.
Of course, Spielberg would go on to direct other science fiction films such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, and War of the Worlds. His latest sci-fi project, Robopocalypse, is still in development.