Read This Rejection Letter from Lucasfilm to Steven Soderbergh and Feel Better About Life
Soderbergh turned out alright.
In spring 1984, Lucasfilm was a rising behemoth in the production world, having successfully released all three original Star Wars films in the previous six years, and on the cusp of releasing the second in the Indiana Jones franchise. Meanwhile, a young editor in Hollywood named Steven Soderbergh was one of the presumably hundreds of aspiring directors trying to get the studio’s attention.
This week, Soderbergh shared, via his Twitter account @Bitchuation, a rejection letter he received from the company in response to his “tape directed to George Lucas.” Spoiler alert: Lucas never even popped it in the Betamax machine.
Aside from a lovely piece of nostalgia from the days of tapes and typewriters and letters, this should serve as a bit of encouragement for all of us who have faced the countless rejections that our industry serves up on the daily. After all, Soderbergh turned out alright. That is, if you consider starting an independent film revolution with your breakout feature (only 5 years after sending the rejected tape, btw), and eventually winning an Oscar for Best Director, and still making waves in how the studio system fundamentally operates today “alright.”
This isn’t the first time the director has admitted his early ambitions on Twitter. Last June, he posted about a letter he wrote to Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown at age 14 offering to direct the sequel to Jaws. “They never responded,” he quipped. Soderbergh’s entire Twitter feed is a treasure trove for fans, as he shares musings about his own work, the industry at large, and—refreshingly—lots of accolades for his colleagues’ projects. (Tweets include “Big shout out to Norman Jewison for directing THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, which I've been ripping off my entire life” and “If you've never seen a Ken Loach film, I DANIEL BLAKE is a good place to start. Be warned: when you get to KES, you'll be shattered”.)
Now, if only he would only share what was on that tape.