THE FILMS OF ROBERT ZEMECKIS
Robert L. Zemeckis] (born May 14, 1951)is an American film director, producer and screenwriter Zemeckis was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Rose (née Nespeca) and Alphonse Zemeckis. His father was Lithuanian American and his mother was Italian American. Zemeckis grew up on the south side. He attended a Roman Catholic grade school. Zemeckis has said that "the truth was that in my family there was no art. I mean, there was no music, there were no books, there was no theater....The only thing I had that was inspirational, was television—and it actually was." As a child, Zemeckis loved television and was fascinated by his parents' 8 mm film home movie camera. Starting off by filming family events like birthdays and holidays, Zemeckis gradually began producing narrative films with his friends that incorporated stop-motion work and other special effects.
Along with enjoying movies, Zemeckis remained an avid TV watcher. "You hear so much about the problems with television," he said, "but I think that it saved my life." Television gave Zemeckis his first glimpse of a world outside of his blue-collar upbringing; specifically, he learned of the existence of film schools on an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. After seeing Bonnie and Clyde with his father and being heavily influenced by it, Zemeckis decided that he wanted to go to film school.
His parents disapproved of the idea, Zemeckis later said, "But only in the sense that they were concerned....for my family and my friends and the world that I grew up in, this was the kind of dream that really was impossible. My parents would sit there and say, 'Don't you see where you come from? You can't be a movie director.' I guess maybe some of it I felt I had to do in spite of them, too"
Zemeckis applied only to University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, and went into the Film School on the strength of an essay and a music video based on a Beatles song. Not having heard from the university itself, Zemeckis called and was told he had been rejected because of his average grades. The director gave an "impassioned plea" to the official on the other line, promising to go to summer school and improve his studies, and eventually convinced the school to accept him. Arriving at USC that Fall, Zemeckis encountered a program that was, in his words, made up of "a bunch of hippies [and] considered an embarrassment by the university." The classes were difficult, with professors constantly stressing how hard the movie business was. Zemeckis remembered not being much fazed by this, citing the "healthy cynicism" that had been bred into him from his Chicago upbringing."
While at USC, Zemeckis developed a close friendship with the writer Bob Gale, who was also a student there. Gale later recalled, "The graduate students at USC had this veneer of intellectualism ... So Bob and I gravitated toward one another because we wanted to make Hollywood movies. We weren't interested in the French New Wave. We were interested in Clint Eastwood and James Bond and Walt Disney, because that's how we grew up." He graduated from USC in 1973