Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, Sofia Coppola, Ron Howard hype debut of Apple TV+

Top Hollywood celebrities and filmmakers discuss saga of storytelling in film for the brand's streaming platform

Published On
Mar 25, 2019

Editor's Pick

Finally, Apple’s streaming content service, AppleTV+ is here, and to ring in the announcement at today’s special event,  Hollywood talents were on full show.

The event opened with a dazzling, vintage Tnseltown-style “movie titles,” and then Apple CEO Tim Cook was joined on stage by the likes of Steven Spielberg, who will bringing his ‘80s classic show “Amazing Stories” back to the screen; J.J. Abrams, who discussed his romantic comedy series “Little Voice” and Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell, who gave a first look at their morning-news-themed series, “The Morning Show.”

Accompanying the stage announcements is this celebrity-packed film, shot in black and white and seductively directed by Oscar-winning director and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity,” “Children of Men,” “Birdman”).

Titled “Storytellers,” it gives us a glimpse of what it takes to get a story to screen, through the eyes of some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Spielberg opens the film addressing the camera and suggesting how the ad should  begin (a black screen with a tiny speck of light that grows in intensitty--an idea that Lubezki runs with).  Sofia Coppola, M Night Shyamalan, JJ Abrams and others then join in to discuss the nagging feeling of wanting to tell a story idea. Ron Howard enters the picture in to discuss how the tale builds from an idea--it turns out writing, for many, is one of the most challenging hurdle--involving endless drafts.

Then, preproduction begins. Octavia Spencer and Witherspoon discuss what goes into building their characters. Abrams and Howard consider the environment, tone, set design, palette. And then, we finally move onto the set--and the talents discuss the tremendous pressure cooker of taking a story from page to film. "Nothing I'm doing is good. Nothing is working," Hailee Steinfeld says. Then the filmmakers weigh in on the strains of having to tell the story correctly while juggling the strains of talent, budget and time. “Fear is good,” Spielberg says. “The fear of failure is a kind of octane.”

Howard describes that feeing of everything “falling apart,” but then things take an upward turn. 

The third act captures the elation and wonder of everything finally falling into sync--when an actor is "doing her thing," when all of the cast and crew feel like they're telling one story--and everyone remembers why they got into filmmaking in the first place.

“Sharing stories with one another makes us feel less alone,” says director Damien Chazelle.

“A story should make you forget your surroundings, your agenda your day and hopefully makes you forget yourself,” says Spielberg, closing the film.