A movie director determines the vision of the production and makes all the key decisions of a production and must fully understand all steps of the filmmaking process.
What Does a Director Do?
The director must understand the main steps of filmmaking as they typically work closely with department heads, ensuring that their creative vision is followed.
Working With Department Heads
The first is the development phase, which involves working with producers, designers, and storyboard artists to create the vision and pitch an idea.
Auditioning and Casting Actors
Choosing the cast for a production is also part of the director’s role before any rehearsals or filming can begin.
The next phase is pre-production, which involves working with all the crew heads of each area and the producer to work through logistics.
Storyboarding and Shot Listing
Moving into the production phase brings long days, as this is the part of the process that involves holding meetings, creating storyboards, and listing shots.
Gearing Up for the Shoot
Next up is the actual filming of the production. Before moving on to the next scene, a director must approve what was filmed.
Making Changes to the Script
The pre-production phase also includes making screenplay changes to ensure a consistent, quality story.
Directors work closely with editors during the production phase to review the footage and make selections for the finished product.
Directing Actors and the Camera
The creative aspect of directing comes in the form of the actual direction of the actors and cameras used to tell the story.
Here is a great video introduction into Film Blocking and how you can create better films by thinking about space, shapes, and lines:
After filming wraps up, the project moves to post-production. Post-production involves editing and other workflows.
Working With the Sound Department
This step involves adding sound and visual effects that align with the feel of the film.
Working With Composers
Music is also a key aspect of any film, so the director works with the composer to incorporate the soundtrack or score into the final cut.
Interested in Becoming a Film Director?
The first step in becoming a film director is often going to school to obtain a degree in film or cinema to explore various areas of filmmaking, including editing, production, acting, and cinematography. Check out the Cinema Production Program, a 9-month intensive training program for filmmakers.
Education & Training
Many film directors have undergraduate degrees in film production, although this isn’t necessarily a requirement.
Experience & Skills
Movie directors need certain skills to be successful, including a strong grasp of the theory behind film production.
In order to succeed as a film director, you also need to be patient, willing to continue to learn throughout your career, and able to handle unforeseen situations as they arise.
The lifestyle of a director depends on the type of projects they work on, as well as how many they have in the works at a time.
Should I Be a Film Director?
If you have the skills and the artistic vision required to create and complete an appealing film, you may be suited for this job.
What Is the Workplace of a Film Director Like?
Directors often work under a lot of pressure, as the success of a film depends on them. Directors can expect a workplace that requires effective use of time management and multitasking.
A film director works on the set of a movie, so the location often rotates based on the project. They work directly with others involved in the production process.
How Much Does a Director Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary in 2019 for directors and producers in the motion picture video industry was $74,420. The job growth between 2018 and 2028 is estimated at 5%.
Unions, Groups, and Associations
Many professional associations, organizations, and groups exist to connect those in the filmmaking industry, such as the Directors Guild of America. Some directors are part of a union.
How to Get into Directing
Getting into directing involves finding a film producer who is willing to hire you for their project.
How to Become a Film Director Without Film School
Although many film directors do have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, some simply work their way up on a film set by gaining experience filming projects.
Steps to Be a Film Director – Getting Started
To get started as a film director, follow these steps.
Go to a Film School
The first step for many directors is getting formal training through a film school. Although this isn’t always required, the education you receive will help you learn the essential skills and work under the direction of experienced individuals.
Begin Creating a Portfolio
Use your experience to start creating a portfolio. This should include any projects you’ve worked on with details about each production.
Participate in an Internship
An internship can help you gain hands-on experience on a film set, which is beneficial to building your portfolio and forming connections.
Consider Graduate Film Studies
You may choose to pursue a graduate degree in film studies. This program will typically provide more in-depth learning in directing, producing, and screenwriting.
Gain Experience and Advance
Obtaining a position on a film set will also provide you with valuable experience to help you gain a better understanding of the steps involved in creating the finished product.
Join a Professional Organization
Joining professional organizations and groups can benefit your career as you form connections.
Continuing your education is also important in this field, as aspects of filmmaking change and adapt based on technological advancements.
10 Tips on Directing Actors
The process of directing is a collaborative effort that involves working with many people, including the actors.
Know Who You’re Working With
If you haven’t worked with an actor before, perform research to learn more about them and their past work.
Include Them in Your Process
Actors involved in the process are better able to serve the vision you have for the project, so involve them in the storyboard, lookbook, shot list, and other preparatory materials.
Create a Calm and Respectful Environment
Encourage actors and help them know that you’re there for them and with them. Try to avoid raising your voice onset, as it can increase tension that may limit the creative process.
Be Prepared and Be Flexible
Plan ahead for how you want certain shots and scenes to go, but be open to changes that may improve the outcome of the production.
Give Them Space to Work
Actors need to be in control to succeed, so allow them that space to be creative and get into character. Communicate what you want to keep everyone on the same page.
Don’t Make Them Wait
Do your best to stick to rehearsal and filming schedules to show actors that you value their time. If the timing does change, keep the actors informed as quickly as possible.
Direct feedback is generally more beneficial to an actor than sugar-coated words. Be kind, yet honest about what you want from their performance.
Avoid Results-Oriented Direction
If an actor is focused on the results of their performance, they may struggle to deliver organically. Avoid telling them to take a certain action or what you want the audience to feel.
Be Aware of Their Needs
Be conscious of an actor’s needs throughout the process and give them the flexibility and space to cater to those needs.
Listen to Their Instincts
If the actor is struggling with an aspect of the script or character, listen to those instincts and consider rewriting or altering the direction.
To be a successful movie director, one should be comfortable with every step in the directing process. If you’re interested in becoming a director, you can learn more about film and how you can improve your skills by applying to the Nashville Film Institute here.