Movie Directing Education Requirements and Career Information

Movie directing requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Movie directors supervise all facets of the movie-making process, working with everyone involved. They generally start out small and move their way up through experience, reputation, and using their business skills. An undergraduate or graduate degree in film is often requisite.

Essential Information

A movie director is a film's coordinator, responsible for organizing action and serving as the main liaison between the cast and crew. The movie director has a hand in almost every technical and dramatic aspect of production. Aspiring directors can learn through associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs in film, and some offer concentrations in directing. These programs include study of the entire filmmaking process and often offer the opportunity for hands-on experience and working with industry professionals. Students should begin working on film projects while still in school, and also concentrate on developing the business skills they'll need for success in this competitive field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in film
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% for all types of producers and directors
Median Salary (2018)* $71,680 for all types of producers and directors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Movie Directing Education Requirements

Associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs are offered in film. Associate degree programs consist of courses intended to give students a basic knowledge of all aspects of film and provide the first educational step for aspiring film directors. Bachelor's degree programs take the study further, and many of them offer a concentration in direction. More generalized bachelor's degree programs in film or cinema studies are also available. Graduate programs provide the opportunity for those with general film degrees to specialize in direction, or for those that already possess an undergraduate degree with a concentration in movie direction to specialize further.

A student of movie directing will establish a working knowledge about the entire filmmaking process--not just directing--through classes in acting, editing and screenwriting. Students should be prepared to study a healthy amount of film history and theory as well. Students will have opportunities to network with fellow students as well as established industry professionals, and many institutions offer a range of guest lecturers from the moviemaking industry. This may give them an edge over others later on while looking for jobs. The majority of work in filmmaking in the United States is located on the coasts; consequentially, some of the highest-ranked directing schools can be found in California and New York.

Career Information

Movie directing is a financially volatile profession; opportunities found are dependent upon a director's level of experience, popularity with consumers and initial funding. Median annual wages of producers and directors were $71,680 in 2018, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The majority of directors will get their start working on small, independent projects--not on multimillion-dollar Hollywood productions. During this point in their career, many directors have other jobs, both in and out of the film industry. By building a strong portfolio of prior work (often started in college), the aspiring director can work their way up the rungs. It is also important to remember that movie directing is a job in which connections are tremendously important. It is both what you know and who you know that will make a career in movie directing successful.

To become a successful movie director, you must climb the industry ladder, which is accomplished by making contacts, having a good portfolio, experience, and a solid educational background. A bachelor's degree or higher in filmmaking is advised, though some directors emerge from related professions.

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