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Career As a Film Director: Career Options and Job Duties

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

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Most film directors hold a bachelor's degree in film or cinema, and have prior work experience in the field. They need to oversee and work with multiple people and aspects of film, including budgets, actors, camera and lighting crew, designers and editors. Many directors work in Hollywood, but others work around the country, directing for television or video production companies, or in the advertising industry.

Essential Information

In the motion picture industry, film directors are in charge of all creative decisions made in the production of a movie, from the beginning stages to the final edits. They answer only to executive producers, who have the last say on all the elements of a production. Since work experience is typically necessary to become a film director, these professionals may enter the profession through writing or acting, or by assisting a director who is already established. Many directors pursue a bachelor's degree in their craft at a film school. Film directors also need to possess management and leadership skills, be creative and communicate well.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in film, cinema or a related field
Other Requirements Work experience in the film industry; management, leadership and communication skills; creativity
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% for producers and directors
Mean Salary (2015)* $105,550 annually for producers and directors in motion picture and video industries

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Film Director Career Options

Although some film directors work on motion picture productions based in the motion picture centers of Los Angeles or New York, the majority work in other places. They may direct productions for local or regional television studios, or for video production companies. In addition, directors may create advertising, work on training films or direct small-scale independent movies.

Film directors may choose to move on from directing into writing, producing, script development or teaching. Some directors may also decide to become reviewers or critics. According to the Princeton Review, directors who decide to enter the business world may develop a variety of enterprises, including casting agencies, costume supply or lighting rental businesses and acting schools.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Cinematography and Film Production
  • Film and Cinema Studies
  • Photography

Job Duties

Film directors have multiple responsibilities, the chief of which is to study a script and determine the best way to interpret its message for public entertainment or education. Other duties include auditioning actors, selecting cast and crew members, choosing settings and film locations, and deciding how and when to shoot scenes. Directors also have financial obligations that require them to make their decisions based on a budget.

Film directors work closely with actors to provide guidance on characterization and the movements needed in each scene to minimize rehearsals and takes. Directors plan the framing and composition of each scene, coordinating it with camera movement and sound. They also establish the pacing and the timing of the scene sequences.

Another job of a film director is to coordinate and supervise the work of the camera, lighting and sound crews. Directors confer with managers, technical directors and writers on the details of the production, including the script, photography, sets, costumes and music. Film directors are involved in the editing process on a holistic level, cutting the film or tape and integrating the pieces into the final product. They also collaborate with sound editors on added special sound effects and soundtracks.

A film director interprets a script and oversees all the creative aspects of making it into a movie. They often branch out to other areas of the industry including writing, producing or casting. Demand for film directors and producers is expected to grow at a rate of 9% over the decade from 2014-2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

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