Infobox Film
name = Amblin'
director = Steven Spielberg
producer = Dennis Hoffman
writer = Steven Spielberg
starring = Richard Levin, Pamela McMyler
music = Michael Lloyd
cinematography = Allen Daviau
editing = Steven Spielberg (uncredited)
distributor = Four Star Excelsior
released = December 18, 1968
runtime = 26 min
country = USA
imdb_id = 0064010

" Amblin' " is a short film released in 1968. It is the first completed film shot by Steven Spielberg on 35mm. The film is a short story set during the hippy era of the late '60s about a young couple who meet up in the desert, become friends, then lovers and make their way to a paradisiacal beach.


A young guy, carrying a closely guarded guitar case, hooks up with a free spirited girl when hitchhiking across the desert in southern California en route to the Pacific coast. Along the way, the man engaged the girl in an olive spitting contest and the girl initiates the guy into the joys of cannabis smoking and sex in a sleeping bag. Following the scene alluding to sexual intercourse, the young man is seen walking on the median of a road , which is perhaps symbolic. As the pair reach the beach, the guy frolics in the surf and the girl checks out the contents of his guitar case: a suit and tie, toothpaste, mouthwash, a roll of toilet paper and a copy of Arthur Clarke's "The City and the Stars". The girl smiles in bemusement, perhaps sensing all along that her companion was not the quintessential hippy that he appeared to be. She then proceeds to stand up and leave the beach, leaving the man behind.


Spielberg found his lead actor Richard Levin working as a librarian in the Beverly Hills library. For the mysterious redhead in the film, Spielberg discovered Pamela McMyler from the Academy Players directory. She had previously been a member of the Pasadena playhouse and had a small role in The Boston Strangler.

teven Spielberg as writer and director

Amblin became a reality after Spielberg was introduced to aspiring producer Dennis Hoffman. This movie, only 24 minutes long, led to his becoming the youngest director ever to be signed to a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio (Universal) after Sid Sheinberg, then the vice-president of production for Universal's TV arm saw the film. The movie had a $15,000 budget. In 1968, his friend Dennis Hoffman provided financing of approximately $10,000 for the production of the film. At the time, Hoffman had no experience in producing, writing or developing projects for motion pictures. At Hoffman's request, the music of a band he was managing at the time was used for the film.

In exchange for the financing provided by Hoffman, Hoffman exacted from Spielberg the young filmmaker's agreement to (a) direct "Amblin'" for no compensation whatsoever and (b) be bound for ten years to direct any script selected by Hoffman if such a script was brought to Spielberg by Hoffman. As compensation for this second film, Spielberg was to receive the payment of $25,000 plus 5% of the profits after expenses (the so called "1968 Amblin Contract").


Amblin' started shooting on 6th July 1968 at Dennis Hoffman's cinefx soundstage. The filming commenced with a complicated tracking shot following a trail of matches leading to a bonfire which was shot in the studio in order that cinematographer Allen Daviau could control the lightning. After cinefx and the filming of the final sequence outside Jack Palance's beach house in Malibu, the crew moved on to various desert locations around Pearblossom, California, for the remaining eight days of filming. On rough terrain and under a punishing 105-degree sun, many of Spielberg's unpaid crew left before the shoot was completed. Spielberg confessed to one crew member that he had vomited every day before he went to the set.

Release and Impacts

Opening on December 18, 1968 at Lowes Crest Theater in Los Angeles , Amblin' shared a double bill with Otto Preminger's Skidoo. Amblin won several film festival awards including a showing at the Atlanta film Festival in 1969. Spielberg was then signed to a 7-year contract under the Television division of Universal. In later years Spielberg would name his successful company after his first movie - Amblin Entertainment.


* The film is silent but is accompanied by an acoustic guitar led soundtrack from beginning to end.

* Anne Spielberg (Steven's sister) who wrote "Big" also worked with him on this first effort which started his career and won him his contract at Universal.


* Freer, Ian: "The Complete Spielberg", Virgin Books, 2001.

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