Movie Directing and Cinematography Professions Video: Career Options

Movie Directing and Cinematography Professions Video: Career Options Transcript

Cinematography is the art of using motion picture to convey a meaning. Movie directors and film directors coordinate the elements in a scene, while cinematographers coordinate the technical components that capture it. If you enjoy films and think you would like making creative decisions on a daily basis, a job as a movie director or cinematographer may be right for you.


Cinematographers and directors are artists who use motion photography to create original projects. Directors coordinate all the creative decisions, while cinematographers work primarily with cameras, sets and visual elements. Together, these two professionals help to develop all sorts of film and video projects. Examples of what they do range from Hollywood blockbusters to television commercials.

Job Skills and Duties

Directors and cinematographers need to be familiar with camera terminology and photography equipment. Cinematographers are responsible for selecting lenses, filters and aperture settings to accomplish the visual goals of the scene. They need to understand shutter angle and other aspects of photography to fully appreciate how their decisions will affect the processing of motion pictures. Cinematographers must also have superb communication skills. On almost any shoot, cinematography professionals will be expected to interact with a crew of camera people, grips, art directors and production designers.

Since directors frequently assume the responsibilities of a cinematographer, it is important for them to have a familiarity with all of the previously mentioned aspects of cinematography. Directors also need to know how to coordinate actors and various technicians in each and every scene. It is the director who is responsible for all of the creative decisions that occur in a production. Specific duties include casting, editing scripts and approval of design elements.

Training Required

Almost all cinematographers and directors have some type of formal post-secondary training related to their trade. However, there are some professionals who have landed a job in the industry based on their portfolio of work. For those who desire training, there are a number of film schools, colleges and universities that offer appropriate programs. Directors may also compete for a position in the Assistant Directors Training Program, sponsored by the Directors Guild of America. This program is highly competitive and requires a bachelor's or associate's degree. Aspiring cinematographers and directors who wish to skip formal training in their field can try to work their way up from other film-related positions. Cinematographers frequently start out in camera-operator or lighting jobs and many directors begin their careers as actors, broadcast journalists or runners on movie sets.

Work Environment

Directors and cinematographers are frequently in high stress positions. Most of the people who are in movie directing or cinematography positions are self-employed and must find another job every time they finish a project. These positions often require a lot of travel and odd hours. If a project calls for a night scene, for example, directors and cinematographers must work during the night. Often times, periods of incredible stress are tempered with complete lapses in employment. Furthermore, many of the major studios are based in New York and Los Angeles, which often requires starting professionals to relocate to these cities.


Directors and cinematographers are one part artist, one part manager. These professionals must have a good eye to visualize a shot and coordinate all the necessary components to achieve it. For directors, this means coordinating actors, sets and timing of effects. For cinematographers, this means selecting lenses, filters, angles and lighting to achieve the desired result. Success can be both rewarding and lucrative for people who have passion, dedication and artistic prowess.


Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook - Actors, Producers and Directors

Wikipedia - Cinematographer

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