Spielberg made the short film set in East Africa as a teenager.
In 1961, a 14-year-old Steven Spielberg produced and directed one of this first short films, the ominously named “Escape to Nowhere.” In the opening sequence to the movie, a title card reads “Produced and Directed by Steve Spielberg” before one of the first shots that states the setting is “Somewhere in East Africa.”
There is no dialogue in the two-minute clip that has surfaced online, just battle scenes that play to the sound of Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” (Something tells us Spielberg was not able to license the rights to the music.) Spielberg’s sister Anne Spielberg is the only person credited in the cast on IMDb, which states that the entire short is 40 minutes long.
Though the production value is exactly what one would expect from a teenage filmmaker, Spielberg’s eye for dramatic action scenes and swiftly-paced editing are apparent even at this young age. “Escape to Nowhere” is his third film as a director, having previously directed two other short films, “Fighter Squad” (1961) and “The Last Gun” (1959). Based on the subject matter of his first three projects, it’s surprising that Spielberg waited 37 years before directing his Oscar-nominated war film “Saving Private Ryan.”
To watch a two-minute clip of “Escape to Nowhere,” check out the video below.