How to Become a Movie Director in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for becoming a movie director. Get the facts about how you can find your start as a movie director, including potential degree programs, internships and ways to gain experience, as well as potential salary and job outlook. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Movie Director?

Movie directors select scenes, script versions and camera angles and mold these factors into a coherent movie. You will work closely with producers, actors, cameramen, make-up artists and set designers to direct a movie production. Movie directors not only oversee all aspects of the production process - they also supervise the postproduction process that includes special effects, editing and more. Some of their administrative duties include ensuring the movie stays within budget and on schedule and promoting the movie when it's completed. If this position appeals to you, refer to the chart below, which gives an overview of key information.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree is common
Field of Study Fine arts, theater arts, communications or film
Key Responsibilities Work closely with writers, actors, producers and camera-people to execute the overarching vision for a movie; supervise lighting camerawork, design and sound; create the pace of filming to meet production deadlines; and select scripts to be transformed into movies
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% (for producers and directors)*
Median Salary (2015) $77,980 (for producers and directors in the motion picture and video industries)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Movie Directors Do?

As a movie director, you may work on a film set, choosing scenes, locations and camera angles as well as instructing actors and actresses. One of your early tasks would be to read through a script and come up with a creative interpretation that will work well for a movie. You may run through the uncut scenes and decide what stays and what goes.

Step 1: Finish High School

Throughout high school, you can take courses that center on films, theater, acting and drama. This may involve participating in your school's plays or interacting with local community theaters. It's never too early to start gaining experience in acting, directing and producing. In fact, some directors started out as actors or actresses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

Step 2: Complete a Bachelor's Degree in Film

Although you don't need to follow strict education requirements to be a movie director, knowing the ins and outs of filmmaking matters. You can attend a bachelor's degree program in film or a related field to attain this practical experience and to make useful contacts. As a film student, you may study topics in acting, cinematography, directing, editing, movie production, screenwriting and sound design. Many programs require you to make one or more films before graduating.

Step 3: Complete an Internship

You can build your directing resume by completing an internship with a movie production firm. This can give you the opportunity to learn from established directors and to see the intricacies of movie making. This step can be accomplished while you're still in school, since many programs encourage or require students to complete an internship.

Step 4: Gain Experience

As a new movie director, you may have to start small before moving on to larger film projects with bigger budgets. You have the option of creating independent films to help establish your reputation. You'll need to direct your own films at some point, but you can gain further experience and networking opportunities by working in an assisting role for a more seasoned director.

Step 5: Develop a Following

Your success as a director may depend on cultivating a devoted audience through your film style. As you translate your creative interpretation of a script into a motion picture, elements of your directing style may stand out and could garner you further acclaim. How you delegate tasks to and communicate with your film staff can also influence your finished products. You may need to start off with smaller production companies, but developing the right connections can help you reach your target audience.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are several related careers that require a bachelor's degree, such as those of art directors, top executives, and writers and authors. Art directors have to make similar creative decisions as movie directors to develop the visual style of things like magazines and television productions. Top executives are similar to movie directors in that they oversee all the details and daily activities of an organization or company. Their goal is to help the organization meet its' goals by creating strategic action plans. Both of these roles usually demand years of prior experience. Writers and authors compose the written content of different kinds of media, such as books, blogs, songs and advertisements.

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