Film Director Training Programs and Requirements

Film director training programs are available at undergraduate and graduate degree levels, as well as through apprenticeships. Students in such programs learn important concepts such as creating scripts, contributing to the film's dramatic content, and directing technical crews and actors.

Essential Information

There is no formal education requirement to become a film director and many directors grow from roles as actors or writers. Film programs, however, 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 at the bachelor's and master's degree levels, though other options are available.

  • Program Levels in Film Directing: Associate's Degree in Film Production; Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Studies & Production; Master of Fine Arts in Film Production; Apprenticeship Programs; seminars & workshops available
  • Prerequisites: No educational requirements for apprenticeship application
  • Program Length: 4 years (bachelor's); 1-5 years (apprenticeships)
  • Other Requirements: Internships

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:

  • Cinematography
  • Lighting
  • Audio Production
  • Photography
  • Acting
  • Screenwriting

Master of Fine Arts in Film Production

At the graduate level, future film directors learn advanced techniques in filmmaking. 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
  • Post-production
  • Character Analysis
  • Genres

Job Experience

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.

Licenses and Certifications

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.

Workshops and Seminars

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.

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