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Steven Spielberg on Hope, Success, and the Magic of Movies

When it comes to blockbuster movies, few filmmakers have as enduring a reputation as Steven Spielberg. The director may be best known for his thrillers — Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and the Indiana Jones series, to name a few — but he has made dozens of iconic movies in other genres as well, including such acclaimed dramas as The Color Purple, Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler’s List. Spielberg’s oeuvre is perhaps best defined by his vast curiosity about the human condition, regardless of subject matter, genre, or time period. As he put it, “Every time I go to a movie, it’s magic, no matter what the movie’s about."

Spielberg’s drive and passion for movies has inspired countless other filmmakers, including Jordan Peele, whose summer blockbuster Nope made some pretty pointed nods toward 1975’s Jaws, the film that launched Spielberg to fame. In part, it’s Spielberg’s keen eye for story and his skills behind the camera that make him a mentor for younger creatives — but perhaps even more inspiring is his unabashed passion for movies themselves. “When I grow up, I still want to be a director,” he has said, noting that he would never consider himself to be a master of his craft; he is always a student of life and story and, therefore, films. Here, we’ve rounded up 20 of Spielberg’s most motivating quotes about what it takes to make it big — starting with a big dream.

You shouldn’t dream your film, you should make it!

Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.

I don’t dream at night, I dream at day, I dream all day; I’m dreaming for a living.

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.

I always like to think of the audience when I am directing. Because I am the audience.

You know, I don’t really do that much looking inside me when I’m working on a project. Whatever I am becomes what that film is. But I change; you change.

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.

All through my career I’ve done what I can to discover new talent and give them a start.

Only a generation of readers will span a generation of writers.

You have many years ahead of you to create the dreams that we can’t even imagine dreaming.

Filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself.

You can’t start a movie by having the attitude that the script is finished, because if you think the script is finished, your movie is finished before the first day of shooting.

All good ideas start out as bad ideas, that’s why it takes so long.

Failure is inevitable. Success is elusive.

I’ve always been full of hope. I’ve never lost that. I have a lot of hope for this country and for the entire world.

My imagination won’t turn off. I wake up so excited I can’t eat breakfast. I’ve never run out of energy.

Once a month the sky falls on my head, I come to and I see another movie I want to make.

I’m not really interested in making money. That’s always come as the result of success, but it’s not been my goal, and I’ve had a tough time proving that to people.

All of us every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.

I interpret my dreams one way and make a movie out of them and people see my movies and make them part of their dreams.

Photo credit: JB Lacroix/ WireImage via Getty Images

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About the Author
Joyce Chen
Joyce Chen is a writer, editor, and community builder based in Seattle, Washington.
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