What Are the Educational Requirements for a Film Director?

Film directors wear many hats, and they must have both technical and artistic skills. They usually have a bachelor's degree in a field related to film, as well as significant work experience. Read on to learn more about the educational requirements for these professionals and the degree programs that are available. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Film Director Careers

Film and video directing spans a range of productions, from full-length movies and television shows to commercials and business or marketing promotions. As a director, you work with both behind-the-scenes staff and on-screen talent. You must have a full understanding of the script or message that's being produced, as well as being knowledgeable of the entire film production process, from beginning to end. Sometimes film directors start out as actors or behind-the-scenes workers, such as gaffers or assistant directors. Oftentimes, they complete a college degree program in film.

Some common job duties include:

  • Casting actors
  • Helping build sets
  • Doing rehearsals
  • Coaching actors
  • Working with editors during post-production

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Program Levels Undergraduate, graduate, and internships are commonly available
Online Availability Some courses, such as digital cinematography, screenwriting fundamentals, and motion picture producing are available
Related Programs Documentary filmmaking, production design, screenwriting, television production
Prerequisites Portfolio, creative writing, artist statement, and resume submission

Educational Requirements

Becoming a film director requires that you acquire an understanding of movie production, including skills in scripting and storyboarding, shooting scenes and editing. Significant work experience in the film industry and a bachelor's degree are the most common requirements for directors. Both bachelor's and master's degree programs are available in areas such as television and cinematic arts, filmmaking and film.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs related to film directing provide you with a strong foundation that may allow you to find an entry-level position in the film and video industry. Applying to a film program typically requires you to submit a portfolio of original work. These undergraduate programs introduce you to the theories and techniques surrounding the pre-production, production and post-production of a film or other video production. In addition, students do a final project or thesis in film.

Coursework often covers the following topics:

  • Lighting techniques
  • Film history
  • Screenwriting
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Production design
  • Visual effects
  • Digital editing
  • Drawing

Master's Degree Programs

Within graduate programs in filmmaking and directing, you take advanced coursework in pre-production, production and post-production techniques. Your primary focus is often working towards a thesis project, such as creating an original film. Similar to a bachelor's degree program, applicants are often required to submit samples of original work to enroll.

Some topics you might study during a master's program in filmmaking or directing include:

  • Screenwriting
  • Sound design
  • Lighting
  • Scenery
  • Voice
  • Editing
  • Acting

Job Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects both producers and directors to have job growth of 12% over the 2016-2026 decade (www.bls.gov). As more films are demanded, the motion picture and video industries will experience growth. The BLS expects strong competition in the field. Therefore, having work experience in film is important for aspiring directors.

In May 2018, producers and directors earned $89,840 on average, according to the BLS. Those specifically working in the motion picture and video industries earned a higher average wage of $104,600 a year. On the other hand, those working in radio and television broadcasting earned a much lower average wage of $78,740.

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