Film Director: Job Duties, Career Outlook and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a film director. Learn about education requirements, job duties, employment outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Film Director?

Film directors make the creative decisions required to turn a writer's script into a finished product. This includes choosing the cast, overseeing rehearsals and directing the actions of the cast and crew. They help actors develop their characters and decide how to portray them.

Film directors often team up with other cinematographers and crew members to ensure the final product fulfills the original vision. Film directors must also work with set and costume designers, film editors and music supervisors to work on the details of the film. Take a look at the following table to learn more about what this career field entails:

Degree Required Bachelor's degrees are typically required
Education Field of Study Film studies, acting, writing
Key Responsibilities Review scripts, hire and direct actors, oversee rehearsals, manage cast and crew
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% (for all producers and directors)*
Median Salary (2015) $68,440 (for all producers and directors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Film Directors Do?

Running a successful film shoot - from storyboarding to directing actors, renting equipment, hiring crew and setting up on the day of the shoot - is just part of a film director's job. All creative film decisions fall under the job duties of a film director. As a film director, you would review scripts, select actors, monitor rehearsals and supervise the work of all the cast and crew. A director selects a location of a shoot as well as the acting style, pace and technical aspects of the filming you are making. In your job as a director, you'll make sure the set design, costumes, musical score and choreography fit your production.

What Education Do I Need?

Directors not only need to have a good understanding of the script, but they must also have an extensive knowledge of film history as well as knowledge of equipment, directing techniques and editing. Film directors may begin their careers as grips or assistants, or through a formal education program. Film schools and art schools in the U.S. offer training through undergraduate and graduate programs in film direction. If you decide to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree at a film school, you may have an advantage in the competition for jobs. During a bachelor's and master's degree program, you have chance to work on your own film and complete a senior film project, and you also take courses on screenwriting, lighting and editing.

What Is My Career and Salary Outlook?

Film directing is difficult to break into, and many who aspire to become directors leave the highly competitive profession early on. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2015 that producers and directors earned a median salary of $68,440. The highest 10% earned salaries of $181,780 or more, while the lowest 10% earned $31,780 or less during this year.

Many high-paying jobs in the film industry are found in California and New York. Industries employing the highest number of directors and producers included the motion picture and video, radio and broadcasting, and advertising and public relations industries.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some other related careers that require a bachelor's degree include those of art directors, multimedia artists and animators, and writers and authors. Art directors help create the visual style of various forms of media, including movie productions, magazines or newspapers. Multimedia artists and animators create the visual effects and animation for different media, such as movies or video games. Writers and authors create the written content for things like books, movie scripts and more.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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