I still remember watching Jurassic Park for the first time as a kid. The majestic effects of bringing the dinosaurs to life, combined with CGI and John William’s music made my movie experience the best. It was a true blockbuster movie.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term blockbuster, it’s a term used in the film industry that a movie has the potential to be very successful. Films such as Jurassic Park, Ready Player One, Avengers, Indiana Jones, Jaws, are considered blockbusters.
Steven Spielberg is known for creating huge blockbuster movies. His direction for the movies has phenomenon atmospheres of awe and a great amount of emotion in the scenes. Most of his movies were action-adventure, where he captured impossible-looking scenes on camera and made them look even more realistic, particularly the sci-fi movies.
As he became more iconic in the film industry, many people asked him what’s his secret to success. He then proceeds to impart lessons to all of us, not just for future filmmakers, but all future generations.
Here was what he shared with us through documentaries, interviews, and speeches:
1) Listen To The Whispers
“Sometimes a dream almost whispers… it never shouts. Very hard to hear. So you have to, every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear. ” — Steven Spielberg.
The importance of silence is truly to listen to your inner voice. It’s where we listen to what we truly want in our lives that light the passion in our hearts.
The problem we face today is that we are living in an instant communication world where our own thoughts can be easily drowned. Notifications, new information, and opinions are bombarded every single minute on our phones and people around us. As the result, we don’t have that time where we can enjoy that peace and quiet to even listen to ourselves.
In order to listen to your inner voice, one must learn the importance of silence. As Steven Spielberg says, your dream never shouts, it comes in a whisper. When that dream keeps whispering to you, you know that it’s what you want to do for your life. And that alone is powerful to light up the fire in our hearts.
2) Chase Your Dreams
“You shouldn’t dream your film, you should make it!” — Steven Spielberg.
Once you know what your dream is, and that light the passion in your heart, make it happen! It’s no use dreaming without action.
Steven Spielberg’s long-time dream was to be involved in the film industry, so he did whatever it takes to get there. However, along the way, he had been failing at school and rejected from UCLA and USC, two of the best film school. That’s not quite a convincing progress to your dream, he must’ve had a lot of doubt in himself upon getting those rejections.
However, that didn’t stop him from giving up his dream. He was accepted in another film school, but at some point, he was accepted to Universal Studios to be one of their production staff members. And from then on, his career kicked off from multiple doubts and rejections to creating blockbusters such as ET, Jaws, Jurassic Park, and many others.
As cheesy as it sounds, chasing after your dreams are important for you. It’s where you can turn your life around to do what you truly love for the rest of your life. Your dreams are breath and life for you, so make it happen.
3) Never Forget The Child In You
I was isolated as a child. I’d go home and write my scripts, cut my films. — Steven Spielberg, 2016.
If you’ve noticed in most of his movies, the main characters would often be kids who are struggling with their family’s relationship or have no parent figures to be in their lives. In a way, most of the kids in his movies were lonely at the start and his goal was to figure out how to fill that hole in their hearts. Movies such as ET, Jurassic Park, BFG, Ready Player One, showed us kids who had no parent-figures and learn to reunite along the way.
In a documentary called Spielberg, he mentioned that he had always put the lonely kid inside him in the characters. His loneliness in his childhood was projected in his movies, so he knew how to navigate the scenes tremendously well. You see this in E.T. when the kids were longing for a father figure.
In other words, he never forgets his childhood as an adult, even if it’s bad. He didn’t share much of his childhood, but all he knew was that, in his loneliest times as a kid, he wanted to be a filmmaker and the characters he created were reflections of his lonely childhood. And here he is now, living his childhood dream.
Being a child helps you to remember the fun part of you where you didn’t have to be told to grow up or be mature. Children are anti-adults, most are rebels, all they want is to have things their way and that they can believe in anything they want.
Although it’s not recommended to be a kid all the time, it’s still important to remember the child in you. They are the part of us that knows how to navigate the happiness in you and in your adulthood, just as it did for Steven.
4) Stick To Your Morals
“When Rey realizes the Force is with her, or Indiana Jones choosing mission over fear by jumping into a pile of snakes, in a two-hour movie, you get a handful of character-defining moments. But in real life, you face them every day; life is one long string of character-defining moments.” — Steven Spielberg, 2016.
In stories, we have a term called ‘character defining’ moments where the characters face certain obstacles and had to make a decision between choosing what is easy or right (a paraphrased quote from Dumbledore in Harry Potter). The best way to choose that decision is to stick with your inner voice.
There’s a reason why I put the importance of listening to your inner voice at the top. It’s so that we can still stick to our beliefs no matter how many people doubt us or the failures we face along the way.
Today, we are bombarded by people’s opinions of what we should do instead of what we could do: pursuing what truly makes us happy. We listen to other’s opinions instead of trusting ourselves, and that alone is enough for us to stray away from our inner voice and dreams.
This is why our inner voice and dreams are very important to listen to. So that when people told you can’t do certain things, you are able to challenge them back on. Who is to tell you how to live the life you want?
5) Study From The Past
“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.” — Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park.
Although history is mostly used in story-telling jobs, it’s still important to every industry. It’s how you get people to understand certain cases better, just like a business case study.
As a former Business Management student, my lecturer himself told us to remember history and do not stray away from it. In fact, his lectures were the only fun ones because there were stories when we were learning about finance and business.
An example he gave us was the 2008 financial crisis where the whole world turned upside down due to the market crash. We had to learn why that happened and that made us understand how to lower the risk of happening again.
As the saying goes,
History tends to repeat itself.
The past told great stories and problems that the world faced, we need to learn from them to create a better future and avoid similar things happening again.
In a way, learn from your mistakes, leading to my next point…
6) Keep Learning
“Don’t turn away from what’s painful. Examine it. Challenge it.”
I wanted to put the phrase “‘don’t give up”, but it’s too overrated and vague because there are just some things we need to give up in order to reach our dreams. So, here’s a better term, keep learning.
There was a time when his internship contract was over, he still hung around the studio to learn from the filmmakers. Of course, some people began to realize that he’s not supposed to be there and kicked him out. However, he still came back and did the same thing, observing the filmmakers in the process of creating movies. He believed that there was still more to be learned than in school, he doesn’t want to be mediocre.
Eventually, the film directors realized that he’s not going to give in and saw his determination to get into this business. His desire to learn what he loved drove him to get back there even though it’s embarrassing to be kicked out over and over again, which probably impressed the employed filmmakers there. In the end, he was hired to stay.
Here, Steven taught us to keep learning. In this world, there is no such thing as graduating. Technology changes every day, revolutionizing society. So there is still much to learn. You can graduate from school, but in real life, you have to constantly learn new things every day in order to survive the working world.
7) Forget Numbers
“I’m not a numbers person. I love making movies and telling stories and the numbers were all the beneficiaries of success if the film is successful. But the numbers don’t matter to me as much as the audience approving, liking, remembering, and even years later, through satire, recalling.” — Steven Spielberg, 2018.
Steven Spielberg never cared how much he earned after he created a movie. What he cared about the most is the reaction of the audience. If they like it, then that film is good enough for him. In his mind, numbers will come once the value is at its best performance.
Values are the most important thing, that’s the point of the existence of a company. It’s the main reason why people would even go to a company in the first place because they have a solution for their problems. For Spielberg, his value is to create a world where people can completely escape reality for 2–3 hours, and as he said, if the audience loves it, then the money will follow along.
And apparently, it did. Today, his net worth is $3.6 billion. He broke the line of mediocracy, strive to be the best, and create the best experience for the audience. That is the value he gave to us, and the profit did come along after.
Just last December 2020, Elon Musk said a similar thing where companies should really forget meetings, excels, and finances, and just focus on creating values for the customers. It’ll only destroy innovation in companies if numbers are always on the table.
So focus on how awesome can your product be, give the best for society, and just focus on that.
These were his rules that helped him to be a legendary director and an inspirational figure today. He stuck to this principle for decades and still able to be able to create phenomenon films, the recent ones were BFG(2016) and Ready Player One (2018).
And as his movies became blockbusters, so did his life. He was nominated for seven Academy Awards for the category of Best Director and won two of them, and 11 films that he directed were nominated as Best Picture Oscar. Today, his net worth is $3.6 billion.
To summarise, these were his tips to live the life we want:
- Listen to your dreams
- Chase your dreams
- Never forget the child in you
- Stick to what you truly want to do
- Study from the past
- Keep learning
- Forget numbers
Steven Spielberg spoke a lot about listening to the whispers of our dreams. The inner voice that tells us what we want to be for the rest of our lives is fundamentally important, the blockbuster life.
I used to say that passion is absurd, but months later, I realized that it’s important in our lives. Money has a limit, but passion is a lifetime. It’s the one that keeps us going no matter how much money is on the table and strives to create the greatest value for society. Our dream is our vision, and when you find that, that’s where you can break mediocracy and live a blockbuster life.
Author: Nicole Sudjono. Working in film biz. Writing Entertainment Business Case Studies from Indonesia
| Find me here: https://linktr.ee/nicolesudjono