'Super 8': J.J. Abrams Says Movie Was Inspired By Personal Experiences

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The US-Ireland Alliance

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 04:  Director/producer/writer J.J. Abrams accepts the Oscar Wilde honorary Irishman award onstage during the 5th Annual 'Oscar Wilde: Honoring The Irish In Film' held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on March 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

The writer-director discusses working with mentor Steven Spielberg and the autobiographical elements of the upcoming Paramount film.

A small town alien invasion chronicled by youths caught off-guard while shooting a student film may sound unrealistic, but writer-director J.J. Abrams has revealed that Super 8's narrative is partly based on his own initiation into filmmaking.

"It was inspired by personal experiences," Abrams tells the San Francisco Chronicle in a new interview.

REVIEW: Super 8

According to the director, the main characters' experiences parallel his own start in Hollywood, when his and friend Matt Reeves' entry in a Los Angeles Super 8 film festival caught Super 8 producer Steven Spielberg's attention. Spielberg immediately hired the teens to restore his first films.

"The fact that he was giving these movies to kids he didn't know was insane to me," Abrams reminisces.

Memories of his childhood innocence influenced the gentle treatment of the characters and their relationships in Super 8.

"[The film] was really about the sweetness of the autobiographical stuff with the horror of the John Carpenter-type of conditional terror, the premise of something monstrous out there," Abrams says.

As for working with Spielberg, Abrams had nothing but positive things to say about the experience.

"He was mostly wonderful about encouragement, to go with my gut on things," Abrams says. "There were certain things I was playing with, certain conventions of the genre ... he gave me the freedom to embrace what this movie could be."

Super 8 opens June 10.