From The Wrap:
How good is Steven Spielberg, really, for a young up-and-comer’s career?
Ask Will Bigham, winner of the 2007 Fox reality show “On the Lot,” who counts Spielberg as a mentor and Paramount chief Adam Goodman as a “big fan.”
Bigham’s TV triumph earned him a two-year development deal with DreamWorks, then owned by Paramount, worth $1 million. It also led to the founding of his own production shingle, Shamrock Motion Pictures.
Yet five years later, Bigham, a 36-year old Texan with a wife and two kids, is just now directing his debut feature, the teen comedy “The A-List,” on a shoestring budget of less than $1 million.
“I had stars in my eyes after that show where I thought, ‘Sure, I’ll be directing a feature soon,’” he told TheWrap.
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Bigham had reason to believe “On the Lot” would be transformative for his career. Spielberg, Mark Burnett and David Geffen executive produced the show. Similar to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s 2000 series “Project Greenlight,” “On the Lot” tasked the contestants with writing, casting, filming and editing short films in a matter of days.
Bigham beat out 17 other aspiring filmmakers in the competition, and at the end Spielberg and Goodman, then president of production at DreamWorks, were waiting for him.
The filmmaker behind “Jaws,” “Schindler’s List” and the “Indiana Jones” franchise had this to say about Bigham at the time:
“Your first feature film, when you get it all ready, you’re going to think it’s a cakewalk compared to what you’ve been through. I loved the films you made. I saw of course all the films you made … you’ve got wonderful craft, you’ve got a great sense of comic timing, and I think … you’re just a real filmmaker.”
That’s when Bigham’s troubles started.
Continue reading the rest of the story on The Wrap