Lesson #5: Follow Your Passion

“The only time I’m totally happy is when I’m watching films or making them,” says Spielberg.

That is the mark of a man who loves what he does. From the time he first laid hands on his dad’s 8mm Bell & Howell wind-up camera at the age of 11 and started to shoot homemade movies about UFOs and WWII battles, Spielberg was hooked. “I never felt comfortable with myself, because I was never part of the majority,” he said. “I always felt awkward and shy and on the outside of the momentum of my friends' lives.” He had been an outsider growing up, ostracized at school and unhappy, and movies proved to be his best escape. Here, in his own words, he could “dream for a living.” He could get away from reality and invent his own world and, most of all he could have fun in the process.

Movies, for Spielberg became his entire life. While still in school, he would often skip classes to work on his own productions. Even once he got a contract with Universal Studios, whenever he wasn’t working on one of their projects, he was working on some of his own. “Once a month the sky falls on my head, I come to, and I see another movie I want to make,” says Spielberg. “The process for me is mostly intuitive.” For him, making a movie felt natural from idea to production to theatres and to deny that would have been to deny his innate talents and passions.

It was only by engaging in his interests and following his enthusiasm that Spielberg was able to become the success that he is today. “I like the smell of film,” he says. “I just like knowing there’s film going through the camera.” His passion for every aspect of filmmaking drove him to try to achieve the best he could, and indeed, he did.

Spielberg not only has passion for the moviemaking process in general, but for the topics he chooses to cover as well. From E.T. to Schindler’s List to Band of Brothers, Spielberg chooses to work on projects that are near and dear to his heart. “There are films that I feel that I need to make, for a variety of reasons, for personal reasons, for reasons that I want to have fun, that the subject matter is cool, that I think my kids will like it.” But, ever the businessman, Spielberg never lets his passion obstruct his view and understanding of the bottom line. “Sometimes I just think that it will make a lot of money, like the sequel to Jurassic Park,” he says.

Now that he has followed his passion and can enjoy the fruits of his amazingly successful career, he is helping to generate a lasting legacy. “I’d love to build a company that will continue to make movies well beyond me someday,” says Spielberg. “I’d like to help start something great…to discover new talent and give them a start.”

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