How do I Become a Film Director?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2019
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There are four steps required to become a film director: post-secondary education, directing experience, film production experience, and a suitable film project with funding. A film director sets the creative direction for the production. He determines the visual representation of the script and provides instructions to other staff to create the desired effect. Film directors can also work on television series, although they are called the executive producer when working in that capacity.

People who want to become a film director are usually creative people who enjoy working in groups, interacting with people, and long-term projects. The role of film director includes hiring key staff and determining lighting, scene locations, and more. After filming is complete, the director works with the editing staff to shape the film to match their creative vision. Although not all film directors have completed a formal training program, the vast majority have attended formal schooling in photography, film making or acting at some point in their career.

The first step to become a film director is to complete a post-secondary education program in film making. These programs are available from a wide range of university, community, and career colleges. When selecting a school, it is important to review its reputation, faculty biographies and opportunities to build a portfolio.


The best way to become a film director is though actually directing a film. Most people start with an adaptation of a short story as their first attempt at film making. The first directing experience quickly highlights any skill or knowledge gaps that need to be addressed. Simple things, such as setting up a shot and filming the right scene in the right location, are skills quickly gained through experience.

After filming is completed, the film director is required to make decisions regarding the production and editing process. Experience on this side can be obtained by volunteering to work as an assistant director or producer on a film, or in a film production studio. The entire editing process is critical in the shaping of the final film. This experience can be invaluable, as you can see common filming mistakes and how to set up a scene so that it does not end up edited out the film.

All film directors need funding to finance their work. The film industry is funded on a project basis. A film director is responsible for locating a script, determining a location, key actors, and the target audience. This proposed film is then "pitched" or "offered" to various film studios or financing firms. Only when the film is approved and funding provided can work begin.


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Post 2

@NightChef, I completely agree with you on your thoughts at becoming a film director in the movie industry. It seems that Hollywood would like you to go down a specific path but the reality is that no one has "the system" to becoming a star actor or director in Hollywood figured out. It is because of certain breaks, luck and being in the right place at the right time that people have managed to become hits.

It's funny to me as most of the individuals who propose to possess the knowledge it takes to win in the industry are actually just writing books because they themselves have not succeeded. After all, you do not read books by big stars on how they "made it big."

Post 1

In my humble and yet, somewhat experienced mind, I believe that the best and most creatively engaging way of becoming a film director is not by the way of studying it in a film school. Everyone can offer advice on how to become a film director but the reality is that only people who have the absolute passion and inner drive that it takes to accomplish a great task will ever become a director in the movie industry.

Even then, there are many that have failed miserably at attempts to become a director. By immersing yourself into your own projects you will learn from experience. The reason that this is such an amazing route to take instead of film director school is because you will have to learn much more of the film making process, not just about being a director.

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