There is no formal education requirement to become a film director, and many directors grow from roles as actors or writers. However, film programs train students in the creative and technical aspects of directing and completing a film. Programs often require students to gain hands-on experience through internship programs. Film production programs are most commonly found at the bachelor's and master's degree levels, though other options are available. There are also apprenticeship opportunities for film directing students.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Studies and Production
At the 4-year degree level, students gain a foundation in film history, studying the theoretical underpinnings characterizing the field. Practical approaches in film development are also emphasized, granting students the skills to develop their own projects and participate in internships. A prospective film director may develop artistic expertise from a broad set of coursework, with topics often including:
- Audio Production
Master of Fine Arts in Film Production
At the graduate level, future film directors learn advanced techniques in film-making. The master's degree program often culminates in a senior directing project, in which a student has the opportunity to demonstrate their skill and artistic vision, in addition to adding a professional project to their portfolio. Advanced course topics include:
- Film Analysis
- Character Analysis
Besides formal training, which includes internship opportunities, filmmaking apprenticeship opportunities are available to individuals with no college education and to those who might already have a degree. Programs are offered through state organizations and industry professionals. Individuals interested in this type of paid educational opportunity must apply to an apprenticeship program and, upon approval, begin gaining practical experience from filmmaking professionals. Upon completion of an apprenticeship program, which can last 1-5 years, students secure the title Journeyman Worker and earn a certificate of completion.
While there are no necessary licenses or certifications required of film directors, the Directors Guild of America offers voluntary membership. To qualify, directors must be employed by a participating organization. Additional requirements are needed for secondary directors. Many industry organizations offer ongoing educational seminars and clinics for film directors. Additionally, groups like Independent Feature Project host annual week-long workshops for select aspiring directors. Participants can network, gain tips from professionals and learn film marketing strategies.
Film director training programs vary from apprenticeships to formal education such as bachelor's and master's degrees. Although there are no continuing education requirements for this career, a membership in a professional organization can help directors keep up to date in the film market.