I thought I'd share the story of Steven Spielberg's rise to success. I'm not the man's number one fan or anything, but I love this story because it illustrates the power of the individual to create opportunities. As they say: "A real man makes his own luck". Props to Spielberg for having the courage and imagination to do it.
Steven dreamed of being a movie director from childhood. He began amateur films with a primitive camera when he was still a child and the dream never subsided.
How Spielberg broke into Universal Studios is a legend in the movie industry. He took the Universal Studios Tour, an attraction that enables visitors to get an inside look at the movie business. Visitors ride around the studio lots on a tram. Steven sneaked off the tram and hid between two sound stages until the tour ended. When he left at the end of the day, he made a point of saying a few words to the gate guard.
Day after day, he went back to the studio for three months. He walked past the guard, waved at him, and he waved back. He always wore a suit and carried a briefcase, letting the guard assume he was one of the students with a summer job in the studio. He made a point of speaking to and befriending directors, writers and editors. He even found a vacant office, took it over and listed his name in the building directory.
He made it his business to get to know Sid Sheinberg, then head of production for the studio’s television arm. He showed him his college film project, which so impressed Sheinberg that he put the young man under contract with the studio.
His first full-length film, The Sugarland Express, received critical acclaim and won a best screenplay award at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. Unfortunately, it did not do very well at the box office.
His big break came a year later when he discovered the book Jaws. The studio had already decided to produce Jaws and had chosen a well-known director to film it.
Spielberg desperately wanted to make this movie. Despite the financial failure of The Sugarland Express, his self-confidence had not diminished and he persuaded the producers to dismiss the chosen director and give it to him.
It was not an easy assignment. From the beginning trouble beset the production. It ran into technical and budget problems. However, when Jaws was released in June 1975, it enjoyed twofold success: it broke box office records, and the critics loved it. Within a month of its release, the film had taken in 60 million dollars at the box office, an unheard-of amount at the time.
Over the next few years, Spielberg directed several movies, including the popular Indiana Jones series. He later directed Jurassic Park , which would also become – at its time – the most successful movie in history, the third Spielberg film to break the record. It also brought in over one billion dollars in gross receipts, toys and other merchandise.
Spielberg continues to pursue his dreams. When he and two other Hollywood moguls created their own production company, they called it ‘Dreamworks’.
(taken from "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill which, incidentally I'd really recommend reading if you have a burning desire to be successful in whatever field you're in.)