Steven Spielberg, Jewish Heritage Museum Washington DC, looking at Bolex B8SL his first 8mm movie camera

Spielberg’s work spans four decades and includes some of Hollywood’s most successful and cherished movies. Born in 1946 he began making home movies when he was 12 using his dad’s 8mm movie camera and his own model trains.

Bolex-Paillard-B8SL 8mm movie camera used by Steven Spielberg
Young Spielberg filming 8mm The Movie Firelight

He gradually got other kids to act in his short movies. A nine-minute 8 mm film entitled “The Last Gunfight”, earned him the Boy Scouts photography merit badge. When he was 13, he entered his 40-minute war movie, “Escape to Nowhere” in a competition. He won and used the prize to buy his own movie camera.

It was a Paillard Bolex 8mm. He then created his first commercial movie, “Firelight”. It was a 140-minute science fiction adventure filmed in 1964 when he was 17. He achieved amazing footage with the camera. It was screened at the local cinema with success.

We know this smaller 8mm is in the National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall, Philadelphia. It is noted that he used this camera when he was a boy scout.

Display at Jewish Heritage Museum Bolex B8

There is photographic evidence of that Steven switched to the larger Paillard Bolex H8 sometime during the filming of Firelight. See pictures below.

Spielberg with H8 camera
Spielberg with H8 cameras