I've seen many well financed student films and less well financed non-student first films which all too often look and feel very much like they are trying to be a Spielberg, a Soderbergh, a Kaufman, an Anderson, or an Apatow film.
Emulating the greats is a fine way to learn and certainly a normal way to start out, but at some point, an aspiring filmmaker needs to develop their own "schtick." Really, as an aspiring filmmaker, you have to ask yourself if you're being too influenced by another filmmaker. Is your work obviously derivative of someone else's work? Because the truth is, your friends and family might love your low budget copy-cat film but a wide audience will not be found for a "Lite" version of films made by a prolific filmmaker working with huge budgets.
Try to "be yourself" and if you don't know who that is yet, take some time to figure it out. Maybe just stop watching movies for a while. Look at other forms of art. Read books. Travel. Talk to people. Meditate. Take up a hobby. Serious wannabe filmmakers will do all that and more in an effort to mine their inner uniqueness and figure out how they can present a unique voice as a filmmaker. Growth is essential to the art of cinema and unique voices are always rewarded when time is taken to craft a great film that showcases a unique, meaningful perspective.
Certainly there's merit in classic filmmaking, but really, you need to stand out to survive as a filmmaker and having a unique voice, a unique approach is a great start.
©2009 Chris Santucci