How to Become a Film Director
You’ve seen the Hollywood representation of the film director on set shouting “Cut!” into a megaphone. You realize that the director plays a critical role in making sure a movie or TV show gets made.
But, how does someone become a film director?
What Does a Director Do
A director has a pivotal role in the making of films, TV shows, or documentaries. Their job starts in the pre-production phase of a project and doesn’t end until the post-production work is done.
In pre-production, the film director works with other people, such as the producer and writers, to help establish the artistic vision of the production. Additionally, the director is actively involved in practical decisions of this phase as well. The director helps oversee casting selections, locations, the project’s schedule, the style, and shots needed. They also help obtain funding for the project.
During filming, the director oversees the actors and technical crew to maintain the project’s artistic vision. Production is an important and busy time. The film director ensures scenes are being blocked correctly and provides feedback on performances and shots. They make the ultimate decisions and have to deal with the problems that arise on set.
In post-production, the director ideally takes on a more supervisory role in the editing and post-production stages. Directors work closely with the editor to oversee and help make decisions on which scenes are cut and consult on sound and color editing.
Do You Need a Degree
While a degree isn’t required, it can help.
Obtaining a college degree in filmmaking can provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to oversee a project from start to finish. The director’s role requires you to be a jack of all trades. You must understand each job and how to fit all the pieces together to get a quality product. You’ll want to find a program with a broad curriculum that provides classes on directing and all aspects of production.
However, gaining experience directing projects is as important, if not more important, as having a degree.
What Skills Do You Need
Being a film director is a stressful job with long, demanding hours. To be successful, you’ll need to have excellent stress-management skills, have strong communication and leadership skills, and work well with a variety of people.
A successful director has an artistic eye as well as a foundation in the technical aspects of making a film, TV show, or documentary. You’ll need to have technical knowledge of lighting, sound, film editing, and blocking a scene. You’ll need to work closely with the writers and be comfortable making the final decision when the script needs to change to stay on time or budget.
You’ll work closely with the actors, including casting and providing direction and feedback on their performances.
You’ll need good organization and time management skills to keep the production on schedule and budget.
How Do You Find Work
Becoming a director on a film, TV show, or documentary can take time. So be prepared to be patient. You’ll likely need to take on a variety of roles on different projects before having the opportunity to direct a major production.
That said, here are steps you can take to help you find work.
1. Practice Regularly to Build Your Skills
You’ll need to train your artistic eye. Shoot scenes every day. Consider making a micro or zero budget film to build your skills and provide you with a completed project for your portfolio.
You don’t have to finish every practice film. But by practicing regularly, you’ll help train your artistic eye and advance your skills. This practice can also be an opportunity to try filming different types of scenes and exploring a variety of techniques.
2. Build Your Online Presence
Edit the best of your practice films and short films, and post these on your social media. You’ll begin to attract interest to your artistic vision and be able to showcase your skills.
Connect with industry professionals on social media and engage with them to build your network.
3. Look for Work On a Film Set
Gaining real-world experience on a film set is critical, no matter what role you obtain. You can look for assistant director roles, but don’t turn down other opportunities. If you have experience in lighting, look for those types of jobs as well. Don’t shy away from taking a job as a production assistant either. Every director has to start somewhere.
Working on a film set will provide you with the opportunity to watch what happens on set and how all the different roles work together. You can learn what types of problems arise, how the director handles issues, how they manage their time, and more.
Be professional at all times and get your work done efficiently. After all, you’re building connections with every job you have on a production.
4. Develop a Specialty
Many successful film directors are known for specializing in certain types of projects. Becoming known as an expert in certain types of productions can help you stand out in the market. This strategy can help you find the types of work you are seeking.
Becoming a film director takes hard work, dedication, and patience. However, it can be a rewarding job when you see your vision come to life.