Directors craft motion pictures, television shows, music videos or commercials and control a filming crew’s artistic, dramatic and technical aspects. Their main job is to visualise a screenplay and guide cast members and crew to ensure that vision is realised. For the most part, directors play a key role in selecting actors and key technical members, as well as putting together the production design.
Duties and responsibilities
- Storyboard scenes that serve as a blueprint to the real-life production
- Write screenplays or edit scripts with your personal touch
- Meet studio executives to calculate budgets and brainstorm ideas
- Direct actors to present characters in a way that matches the instructions of the script or the style of shot
- Handle equipment to fulfill your creative ideas on the style of film or TV show
- Hire crew and determine who can serve as your right-hand men
- Review screenplays and make plenty of notes for the entirety of the production
- Attend auditions, select actors for parts and monitor rehearsals
- Scout locations to determine what would be suitable for scenes
- Discuss and approve set design, costumes and musical scores to fit the production
- Spend time in a studio during post-production to properly edit a film or television episode
- Manage the release of a finished product, attend screenings and engage with the public and press
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally
A director’s hours and working conditions do vary on a wide variety of factors. For a veteran director, there will be the pre-production, production and post-production phases.
Pre-production involves sitting in meetings, casting actors for roles, discussing the screenplay and creating a plan for production, which can be done in a studio and during regular business hours. The production part usually takes place on-location, which will require a lot of hours to film various takes of the same scenes. Post-production, again, can be done in a studio with doable hours.
Essentially, a director will not maintain a normal 9am–5pm, Monday–Friday schedule. It can be physically exhausting and mentally demanding.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor’s degree in film studies
To become a director, you will most likely need formal training, which can either be obtained through a two-year college programme or a four-year university degree.
Although some of the greatest directors in film history never attended formal studies, the industry has greatly changed, relying on more than just a camera and a vision. You will need proficiency in a whole host of tools, from camera equipment to sound recording tools to editing software.
It should be noted that you do not necessarily need formal training to be a director. You can always shoot an independent film, submit it to film festivals and build a portfolio that way. Mostly, however, you will need to begin at the bottom of the technical ladder and climb through the ranks that way.
Many directors typically start as production assistants, camera operators, assistant directors and directors of photography. With experience, you could land the opportunity of a lifetime as a director of a film or TV production from a successful studio. This takes a few years and a stellar portfolio.