Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Steven Soderbergh

Go To
"It would be bad enough if Soderbergh merely wrote, directed, and/or produced a nonstop barrage of provocative, eclectic films and television shows. But that isn’t enough for our greedy little friend. No, he has to shoot his own films and edit them under pseudonyms. Quite frankly, I find it a little sickening that one bald, bespectacled little man is able to do so many things so brilliantly. It isn’t fair. Soderbergh is throwing off the curve. Maybe the reason Hollywood is filled with so many mouth-breathing troglodytes is because he’s hogged all the talent. Either he’s one of the most remarkable talents in American film, or there’s a very busy genie out there granting all his wishes. Alternately, he’s cloned himself Multiplicity style, and has six or seven exact copies helping him get shit done."
Nathan Rabin, My Year of Flops #141, Solaris (2002)

Steven Andrew Soderbergh (born January 14, 1963) is an Academy Award-winning film director and producer from Atlanta, Georgia. He also acts as a writer, cinematographer, and editor on most of his pictures, almost always under a pseudonym.

He is best known for being extremely prolific compared to his peers, going back and forth from making low-budget indie films to big-budget crowd pleasers, as well as making his movies very quickly and under budget. He's also a major proponent of digital filmmaking.

He frequently works with George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts.

He claimed in 2013 that his cinematic career was at an end and planned on retiring from filmmaking in the near future, with his apparent swan song being his long-in-gestation Biopic of Liberace, Behind the Candelabra. However, he stayed involved with theater and television, the first of which being The Knick, later acted as cinematographer and editor on Magic Mike XXL, and fully moved back into feature film beginning with 2017's Logan Lucky, directing at least one film a year since.

Soderbergh currently also operates the film company Fingerprint Releasing, whose films are distributed through Bleecker Street. He was previously married to Betsy Brantley.

Films directed by him include:

Tropes applying to his work:

  • Anachronic Order: Many of his films jump around in time or have a lot of flashbacks.
  • Auteur License: He got one after videotape, and seemed to be on the verge of losing it until he made Out of Sight. He was pretty much granted one for life after the Oceans Trilogy.
  • Biopic: An unusual one of Franz Kafka's, followed by a conventional one in the form of Erin Brockovich, followed in turn by unusual films like The Informant!, Che and Behind the Candelabra.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's an extremely prolific, accomplished director, but one visit to his website reveals him to be an odd fellow.
  • Color Wash:
    • One of the projects on his website is making a black-and-white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark with music by Trent Reznor.
    • Many scenes in Side Effects are tinted warm yellow, especially in the first half of the film.
    • Contagion (2011) varies from scene to scene, with green, yellow and blue being popular choices.
    • Traffic (2000) has different filters for different locales. In particular, Mexico was always awash in orange-yellow. The US has a blue filter.
    • All the outdoor scenes in Magic Mike are tinted orange, emphasizing the Florida setting and more sharply contrasting the nightclub and strip club scenes, which are dark and neon-soaked.
  • Determinator: His movies tackle the mentality of people who are determined and committed to a task and intend to follow it through, whether it's Karen Sisco, Daniel Ocean, John Thackery or Che Guevara himself. He notes that such individuals like to believe that they are in control, that their will can impose order on the world, and he likes to explore what they do when things don't go according to plan, if they can adapt, improvise or change. He notes that this is a good metaphor for film-making in general, since a movie director or anyone who wants to work creatively in the business, needs to have that same grit and spirit.
  • Development Hell: He first approached Michael Douglas to play Liberace when they were working together on Traffic (2000). It took 13 years before the film was finally made.
  • Exact Words: He said that he would retire from filmmaking. That didn't stop him from directing a play, a show and acting as the DP for and editing Magic Mike XXL before finally returning to film.
  • Fan Edit: In his spare time he'll occasionally play around with other films and make his own edits, such as Psychos, his edit of Psycho that combines the original with the 1998 remake; and an edit of Heaven's Gate that transforms its 3 and a half hour running time into just a little under two hours.
  • Genre Roulette: Soderbergh enjoys making movies in diverse genres — comedy, drama, science-fiction, action, heist, thriller, biopic, period drama — and his movies feature a lot of shifts in style and tone, experimenting with any mode that will help the story.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: While it can sometimes go towards Black-and-Grey Morality, this is usually where it lands.
  • He Also Did:
    • Was Assistant Director on The Hunger Games.
    • His first project after graduating from film school was a Yes concert film.
  • Mind Screw: Schizopolis. Non-stop.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Bubble features an entire cast of non-professional actors recruited from the local town. The Girlfriend Experience stars pornstar Sasha Grey, who went on to do more mainstream acting afterwards. Haywire stars Mixed Martial Arts fighter Gina Carano, who also followed up with more roles.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Inevitably shows up in his heist films, to fully explain how the robbers perfectly pull it off.
  • Pen Name: When he's a Cinematographer or Editor, he's credited under, respectively, "Peter Andrews" and "Mary Ann Bernard". One wonders if Logan Lucky's mysterious scriptwriter, "Rebecca Blunt", is yet another instance of this.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Has worked with Cliff Martinez and David Holmes.
  • Production Posse: Collaborates with writer Scott Z. Burns, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Eddie Jemison, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, and Channing Tatum. And when he's not editing his own movies, Stephen Mirrione is his editor.
  • Renaissance Man: Is a Director, Writer, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Composer and Painter.
  • Signature Style: Soderbergh often takes familiar plots for stories and mixes in unique stylistic choices, usually through clever editing.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: A total of four years passed between his "retirement from filmmaking" in 2013 and the release of Logan Lucky in 2017. Although, as detailed above, in the meantime he shot and edited one movie and directed two seasons of TV.