You just finished your favorite movie for the hundredth time. It was just as good as your first time. There’s something special about it, the way the film director ties together the story, the actors, and the overall feel of the movie.
It motivates you- you want to create something just as powerful. Now the only question is…
How do you become a film director?
What does a Film Director do?
You may have learned in Biology that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. In the same regards, a film director is the powerhouse of a movie or short film.
Film directors are the ones with control over the film in its entirety from pre-production, production, and post-production. They hold complete artistic control over the production.
Let’s break those categories- pre-production, production, and post-production- down and take a closer look at the duties of a film director.
- Pre-Production: This is the time when the movie is still in it’s concept stage. Film Directors would work with writers on scripts, producers on casting, and design teams on sets, props, and costumes.
- Production: This is when the movie is being filmed. Directors would run all script readings and rehearsals, work with actors on placements of where to stand and when to walk. Also, they give actors a guide of what the character’s motivation and behavior should be.
- Post-Production: This is when the movie is being compiled into a finished project. Film directors will work with editors of scene transitions and redos, composers for the musical competition, and any other final details to artistically create a film.
Film directors have the most control and say in a movie, but with that comes a lot of responsibility and pressure. Their work environment is typically filled with constant decision making.
Additionally, they often work long and flexible schedules which could include working for 12 hours one day and a totally different set the next. Also, depending on the stage of production they are in will affect their environment.
During pre and post-production, they could be working in a studio or office area with a more stable work schedule. During production, filming typically occurs on-site at a travel location and involves many long hour days.
What does it take to be a Film Director?
The qualifications for a film director will vary depending on the size and reputation of the film. However, there are some recommended abilities and qualities for a person to possess.
Film directors typically have a Bachelor’s degree in film or an equivalent major. Students should be knowledgeable about the basics of a film. Which may include script writing, theater and acting, camera operation, and video editing.
Experience can come from many directors but often is required around five years to hold a position as high as a film director. The more experience one has, the better their reputation becomes. This can lead to more opportunities and higher budgeted films.
A film director needs to be not only knowledgeable in their field but also have artistic, as well as, leadership skills including:
- Creative Intuition
- Detail Oriented
- Decision making
- Time management
What are the numbers?
Now that you know what the job looks like, and what it requires- let’s talk statistics. The job outlook for a film director is on the rise with a 10% increase over the next ten years as public demand for content grows.
The salary of a film director lies at a median of $75,000 with beginners making around $35,000 and the most reputable making around $170,000.
Another factor on salary is location. California, New York, and the District of Columbia are the highest ranking areas in the United States for pay with a median average around $90,000 salary. Pennsylvania ranks towards the middle of the areas with a median average pay around $58,000.
What can you do to prepare right now?
Here are the five ways you can be preparing right now for a career as a film director whether you are in college or have just obtained your degree.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
The more you practice any skill the better you will be at it. Take any opportunity you can no matter how simple to be practicing your skills. Any type of exposure in the film industry will not only teach you a lot but can also help build your resume. Even making a 15-second quality video for TikTok could help.
- Watch and Learn
Make sure you continue to keep learning and focusing on your skill. This can be as simple as watching movies and short films to gain ideas of what a good film outcome could look like. Another idea is watching youtube and TikToks that teach tricks and tips of being a Film Director
- Less is More
Work on your script writing skills and recognize that not everything is essential. Making cuts to scripts and other aspects of a film is an important skill to learn as a director, especially when working with a tight budget.
- Plan and Organize
While you are practicing and creating small scale films, make sure you work on your planning and organization skills. Create a budget for the film, schedule times for what you are doing before and after the shoot, and always try to be over-prepared.
- Submit Your Work
Enter your work into as many competitions, festivals, or social media constants as you can. The goal is to get people to see your work and connect with it- this is how you build your audience and reputation.
Overall, film directors are the master of a film. They control every aspect of it which comes with a lot of responsibilities and pressure.
However, it’s a growing career that you can get into.
You now know what it is, what it requires, what the statistics are, and most importantly, you know how you can start today on working towards becoming a film director. Go get working!
- Careers. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/film-director/
- AGCAS editors. (2019, August). Film Director job profile. Prospects.Ac.Uk. https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/film-director
- Producers and Directors: Occupational Outlook Handbook:: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020, September 1). BLS. https://www.bls.gov/