Filmmaker: Career and Salary Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a filmmaker. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and preferred experience to find out if this is the career for you.

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The job title of filmmaker can encompass many duties in the creation of a film. It is common for filmmakers to have a degree in film, drama or theater, and some opt to complete a master's degree in directing to prepare to enter this competitive field. As of 2015, producers and directors earned about $68,000.

Essential Information

Filmmakers are imaginative, multi-talented individuals who oversee all the creative elements in a movie or television show. The label of filmmaker is a broad category that often describes someone who regularly operates as both a producer and director. A filmmaker determines the overall vision of the project and coordinates production. Most producers and directors receive their bachelor's in film or a related subject and many go on to earn their master's degrees.

Required Education Most have a bachelor's degree in film or a related subject
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% (for producers and directors)
Median Salary (2015)* $68,440 (for producers and directors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

A director's vision of the production's message guides his or her interpretation of the writer's work or script and ties together every component in a production. A director auditions and selects actors and guides them in their performance. He or she also determines camera angles, sound and lighting for each scene, as well as approving all elements regarding the look and mood of the production, including sets, music, choreography and costumes.

An emerging director must be energetic, confident and highly dedicated to his or her aspirations to withstand the sporadic periods of employment, intense competition for jobs and unpredictable earnings. A creative vision is absolutely essential, as well as having the ability to settle complex issues that may arise at once. An individual wishing to pursue this career must be prepared to work at other related careers while building up experience. Many directors have worked as actors. They may also teach college drama or theater courses and direct culminating productions.

Directors must be willing to travel to where the work is located. The theater industry is primarily based in New York, but many larger cities also have thriving regional theaters. The television and movie industries are concentrated in New York and Los Angeles. Jobs in theaters affiliated with universities and drama and film schools, touring companies, large theme parks and resorts offer opportunities to direct, but these opportunities are dependent on the economic conditions of the area. Theater attendance is expected to remain steady, and this will provide further opportunities to direct. Interactive media is a new avenue of job opportunities for directors. As his or her reputation grows, a director will take on bigger productions that have larger budgets, as well as working in larger markets and more prestigious theaters and venues.

Education and Training

Aspiring directors generally pursue Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in film, drama or theater in a college or film school where they study acting, contemporary drama, design concepts (for theater, film and television) and directing. They may further their training by enrolling in a Master of Fine Arts degree program in directing and take courses on the fundamentals of directing, fictional film, animated film and film genres. They may also have the opportunity to direct increasingly complex films or have a final directing project.

Salary and Career Outlook Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median hourly wage of $32.91 for directors as of May 2015, translating to an annual median salary of $68,440. Radio and television broadcasting had the highest percentage of industry employment at that time, according to the BLS, followed by video and motion picture industries. The BLS projects employment growth of 9% for producers and directors from 2014-2024, which is faster than average.

Filmmakers work on movies or TV shows. They need a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, with experience making films as students. They often must travel for work, and be able to manage the business aspects of creating a film, including hiring and firing staff, and must also have the creative skills needed to integrate the elements required to make their film successful.

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