Steven Spielberg rejected paycheck for one of his most iconic moves for a very good reason
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Throughout his long and successful career as a director, Steven Spielberg has given cinema some of the greatest movies audiences have sat down to watch.
However, there's one movie which Spielberg directed that he refused to be paid. The movie in question ended up being one of his greatest accomplishments of all time, and he had a very good reason for not taking the money.
We are of course talking about Schindler's List, the story of how hundreds of Jews were saved from extermination at the hands of the Nazis, after industrialist Oskar Schindler employed them in his factories.
Spielberg directed the 1993 movie based off the book Schindler's Ark, and was honoured with a Best Director awards at the Oscars - just one of the many accolades the film picked up.
Schindler's List was a commercial success as well as a critical one, with it making plenty of money at the box office, but Spielberg had decided that the story was too important for him to think about being paid to make it.
It's a film he thought was so important that he kept trying to get other directors to make for years, as he felt he wasn't ready to tackle the responsibility of telling such a crucial tale.
According to SlashFilm, he almost persuaded Martin Scorsese to direct Schindler's List while in exchange he would take 1991 movie Cape Fear, but the swap deal didn't go through.
Spielberg did eventually end up directing the film and did a stellar job of it, but in a 2004 interview with Today, he explained why he never took payment for it.
He said: "Let's call it what it is. I didn't take a single dollar from the profits I received from Schindler's List because I did consider it blood money.
"When I first decided to make Schindler's List I said 'if this movie makes any profit, it can't go to me or my family, it has to go out into the world'."
That's exactly what he did, as Spielberg took the money he would have earned from directing the film and used it to establish the University of South Carolina Shoah Foundation, which preserves interviews with holocaust survivors and witnesses.
Founded in 1994, the foundation has become an archive with 115,000 hours worth of video testimony available recording people's experiences with genocide.
The accounts are on average more than two hours in length per person as they tell the stories of their lives.
"Filming Schindler's List was an experience that truly changed my life." Spielberg said of his decision to set up the foundation.
"Filming just outside the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau, I realized that had I been standing on that exact spot at a different point in time I more than likely would have been killed too."
"I remember talking to a lot of survivors during the production. It was one of the first moments that made me realise there were many, many stories that needed to be told."