By: Lindi Mugwara
Steven Soderbergh breaks the traditions of filmmaking in the same way as, the auteurs of the new wave era, like Francois Truffaut and Jean Luc Goddard, who revolutionized cinema. Soderbergh’s impressionistic style has solidified his film making. He similarly plays by his own set of rules, ignoring the conventions of film, taking his own approach, that being his trademark for him as a filmmaker. He rarely repeats himself when it comes to making movies, evidenced by his breath of work. For the director’s cut for his film, The Limey (1999) he had this to say about his style of film making:
Steven Soderbergh was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 14, 1963 to Mary Ann, and Peter Andrews Soderbergh. He discovered film in his adolescence, directing short films on 8mm Super Film. He lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for a short period before moving to Baton Rogue, Louisiana. He enrolled in a film animation class at Louisiana State University. He started making 16mm short films.
Steven Soderbergh first feature film, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” (1989) was a hit at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Palme d’Or. At the age of 26, Soderbergh became the second youngest person to win the coveted prize. The success of the film propelled him to the top of independent cinema. He was lauded and praised by numerous people in the film industry, more notable by film critic Roger Ebert, who called him the “poster boy" of the Sundance generation. As stated previously he began his career in independent film, but throughout the evolution of his career has strayed away from that genre and has taken on a number of mainstream films. But still on occasion he makes small films on shoestring budgets such as “The Girlfriend Experience” (2009).
Soderbergh is mostly known as a film director but he assumes many roles in film production. Aside from writing and directing, Soderbergh often acts as his own director of photography, under the pseudonym of Peter Andrews, his father’s name. Additionally, he also regularly edits under the pseudonym Mary Ann Bernard, his mother’s maiden name. This demonstrates his many talents as an all round filmmaker.
Soderbergh filmography includes the heist film franchise the Ocean Eleven (2001), Ocean Twelve (2004), Ocean Thirteen (2007). As well as, Out of Sight (1998), Solaris (2002), The Good German (2006), Che (2008), The Informant (2009), Contagion (2011), Haywire (2012), Magic Mike (2012), Behind The Candelabra (2013), Side Effects (2013) etc.
For his films Erin Brockovich (2000) and Traffic (2000), he received Oscar nominations for directing both films winning best director award for the latter. He is so far the only person to receive two directing Oscar nominations for two different films in the same year.
Soderbergh briefly retired from film making to focus on other projects. During his film hiatus he worked on the Cinemax series, The Knick, staring Clive Owen. A medical drama set in the 1900’s. He directed every episode of the two seasons and also shot and edited it. The series received critical acclaim. For his directional efforts he earned two Emmy nominations for season 1 and 2, respectively. The Knick is similar in style and execution as his previous film work. The changing landscape of TV is now attracting all kinds of filmmakers. TV series are essentially now seen as long form movies. He states this as the reason he took the job.
Soderbergh is constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in film. He truly is a master of his craft, a champion of cinema. His work will be referenced for years to come in the film community as a work of art, which it most certainly is.