If you want to pursue a career in film, you'd better LOVE film. And I don't mean, "yeah, I like to watch movies," I mean total full-on passion. You can't just "like" movies or "like" writing and expect to be playing at the same level as the kind of people who can talk for hours about the merits of some B-movie as importantly as one might dissect a Bergman film.
Last week, I was interviewing someone for this blog and if you had happened by us during the pre and post-interview chit-chat, you'd only have had to have heard ten seconds of the conversation to know this was a talk between two people who were hard-core movie fans. In fact, though I can't say for certain because I shut off the recorder after the interview, I'd wager we spent almost as long on post-interview gabbing as on the interview itself. (The interview will probably post next week, by the way.)
I also recently crossed paths with an executive I used to read for, a guy with a several decade career in this business. In that time, he worked on more than a few "important" films, but do you know what really made his face light up? When he was talking about horror films - and they weren't always the kinds of horror films most people would consider classics. To this day, I still think he should be hosting his own show on horror movies. He's forgotten more about horror movies than most people have ever known. And yet, he gives incredibly smart notes in virtually every genre.
Sometimes I read a spec that's loaded with drama and melodrama, but without any passion behind it. It's as if the author is writing what they think an "Oscar picture" looks like. And then there are execs who are total snobs, talking in high minded ways about period dramas and strange indie scripts. And hey, if they were enthusiastic about it that would be one thing. Instead they come at it from an intellectual level... talking about film with all the excitement of Ben Stein lecturing a class on voodoo economics.
More often than not, the people who I've seen go far in this business are people with a genuine love for movies. I'm talking about a Roger Ebert-level of love here. This doesn't mean you have to be a film-geek in the mold of Tarantino, able to quote chapter and verse on any number of obscure subjects. But if you're going to make movies, it better damn well be because you can't imagine loving anything more.