So you’d like to know how to become a director?
You’re not alone. The career path to being a film director is a crowded one.
But with this guide, we hope to set expectations, show you how to prosper where others fall by the wayside, and set you on a path that might change your life forever.
When you envision your dream career, do you see yourself as a movie industry heavyweight calling all the shots?
From commercials to short films to feature movies, do you see yourself directing it all? Without a doubt, your dream is big, but it is by no means unattainable!
Several people out there will say there is no straight path to becoming a film director, and they’re not wrong.
However, there’s a difference between a challenging course and no course at all. To become a film director, you will need a lot of grit, consistency, and hard work.
Besides, you need to know where to start. That is just what this article will help you find out.
From the necessity of film school to what practical experience you need, we plan to answer all your questions!
The Path To Becoming A Film Director
Well, success rarely comes overnight, so here are some tips on how to start your journey to becoming a director.
1. Film School
When it comes down to it, getting a formal education in directing has its upsides and downsides.
So at the end of the day, your choice has to be a personal one. Nevertheless, to make your decision a little easier, we’ll be considering its pros and cons in more detail.
Pros Of Film School
When you attend film school, you, of course, get access to experienced mentors and instructors.
However, along with that, you have the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals sharing the same goals and aspirations.
Not to mention, an institution will walk you through the fundamentals of filmmaking from scratch.
So it is much easier to master specific theories and understand why things work a certain way.
You also get a more in-depth understanding of the industry standards, which can be a little tough to do yourself.
Film schools will often provide hands-on experience in the form of internships that can be a considerable boost.
Also, they usually allow students to use their cutting-edge equipment for projects.
Cons Of Film School
While attending film school has a long list of pros, its cost can be hard to swallow.
A formal education comes with massive student loans and debts you will be paying off for years to come.
If you aren’t attending a quality school, you may not get the necessary practical experience.
2. Join A Film Crew In Any Capacity
Work experience is far more important than formal education for aspiring directors. Film school training makes a splendid technical director out of you, but practical work makes you a film director.
So jump on every opportunity you get to join a film crew! Pay no heed to whether the role is of a director’s assistant, production assistant, cinematographer, or even a gaffer.
Beginners rarely get the exact crew they need. So in such situations having some amount of competence in other areas of filmmaking will be extremely helpful.
Besides, knowing the basics of what your crew does will make you a better director.
After all, you will find it much easier to convey to them just what you need, leading to better teamwork.
3. Self Educate
Without dedicating enough time to learning, it is impossible to get good at anything. The same concept applies to filmmaking.
Whether you’re in film school or not, it helps to take out time to study books and videos on directing.
There are several other resources for you to gain knowledge, including courses and articles.
Another trick to self-studying filmmaking is to analyze the work of other brilliant directors.
Choose some of your favorite directors, and then get on the internet! You will find hordes of videos and websites discussing the strategies and techniques these big-time directors employ.
4. Write, Shoot, Repeat
No matter how book smart you get about films, it will lead nowhere if you don’t put theory into practice.
If you want to be a director, you need to, well, direct!
The more you practice writing, shooting, and editing films, the more you realize mistakes and smooth them out with self-criticisms.
Every attempt you make is a chance to improve yourself as a director.
This period is also the one where you can get out and collaborate with more people.
For instance, instead of writing a script yourself, you can find an aspiring scriptwriter and form a team.
5. Build A Director’s Reel
Most jobs require applicants to submit a resume. Production houses looking for movie directors are no different.
Your director’s reel is your visual resume, evidence that you’ve put in the hard work for the job.
Bear in mind that creating a director’s reel is an art in itself. You want to structure it in a way that makes your work as impactful as it can be.
That said, in showcasing your work, you must not forget to let your artistic sensibilities shine.
A demo reel is how you give production house’s a glimpse of your personality without speaking to them directly.
So don’t merely focus on making an impressive reel. Use it to showcase the kind of director you want to be.
6. Submit To Film Festivals
If you want to be a director, you should not think of submitting to film festivals as ‘taking a shot.’ Instead, consider them as part of your job.
That said, you want to maintain a realistic view as you do so.
Sundance might be the ultimate dream for aspiring directors, but remember that getting in is far from easy.
A better option is to try out smaller festivals first and gradually work your way up.
You may also want to drop by these film festivals, even if you don’t make it in.
Well, attending them gives you a feel of the kind of films they accept. Not to mention, it is an excellent networking opportunity, which brings us to our next point.
7. Work On Your People Skills
Think about it: a director is responsible for managing a whole crew of people. So it’s hardly a surprise that being good with people is a necessity.
To be a good director, you must be a good leader that cares for the team and values their suggestions.
Besides dealing with your crew, you also need networking skills to land more gigs. When you make an effort to connect and reconnect with people, they will think of you more frequently.
That can prove vital in the movie industry, where success stems from communication, diplomacy, and managing people.
If you feel there is an aspect of your people skills you can improve on, by all means, do it!
Film Director – The Qualities You Need
A great film director should have the following qualities:
One of the most important skills for a director is the ability to be imaginative.
The film director is one who actually decides most of the film in his mind and directs the team accordingly to fulfill his vision.
If you go anywhere try to observe the things happening around your surroundings because this skill will help you while directing a film. As films are, of course, made on the basis of real moments.
Try to experience the real world and examine human behavior in order to build up this skill.
Developing the stories whether in content form or verbally plays an important role while directing a film.
The art of storytelling involves writing characters who engage the audience.
If you are thinking of starting your career with short films produced and directed by yourself, then this is a must-have skill set.
The great directors also know the best ways and tools of storytelling.
Most successful film directors are those who lead their production team from the front.
They know each and every job that their team members do.
This skill is also helpful in determining future risks and possibilities in terms of the film business.
Technical Knowledge of Filmmaking
Knowledge of the technical processes is a plus in this field. If you know how things are actually carried out, you can control most of the future risks.
Knowing your stuff is, of course, key in any industry. And this is especially true in the film industry.
Have You Got What It Takes?
You work hard to create an emotion, and once the emotion is created, you work even harder to maintain it.
Those are the words that frame one of the most crucial lessons in filmmaking, coming from one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Alfred Hitchcock.
He summarizes the main focus of the filmmaking craft, which is centered around the subject of emotion.
Learning how to translate such delicate and complex subject matter on film and finding a way to deliver it in an engaging and personal manner represents a predominant step in becoming a film director.
Learning To Be a Director – What Is Required
The most common question that people dwell on when they consider pursuing a filmmaking career is whether or not graduating from film school is an unavoidable stepping-stone to becoming a filmmaker.
The answer to this question varies significantly among experts and the big names in the industry. It is a fact that a large number of prestigious directors do not own a degree in the field.
Masters of their craft like Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Guy Ritchie, and Quentin Tarantino never pursued formal education.
Nonetheless, these men left permanent and signature marks on movie history by creating films that express their universal and recognizable language.
It is crucial to note that a film degree can undeniably bring significant advantages to the table.
Do You Really Need a Degree?
The avails of a film degree are useful, but they do not guarantee success in the profession.
On the other hand, to own a significant amount of talent with zero practice or general insight is equally challenging if you’re aiming for filmmaking as your career occupation.
Therefore, it is safe to say that the best starting point would be learning, observing, and applying the lessons and knowledge that are widely available in movie history.
Meaning that to become an outstanding filmmaker, one has to devote himself to analyzing and interpreting all the turning points in the history of film and the legacy of inspiring directors and their ground-breaking works.
Every aspiring filmmaker needs to know why the screen-language of Stanley Kubrick is so influential to this day, what is so unnervingly captivating in the visuals of David Lynch, and what is so special about the characters of Federico Fellini that they are outlasting generations.
Pay attention to the lesser-known facts and secrets hidden between the lines of dialogue. Uncover the literary roots of Apocalypse Now, the importance of ambiance in Taxi Driver, and ever-puzzling hidden metaphors and clues in Blade Runner.
As Tarantino says, “I steal from every single movie ever made.” It is beneficial to reflect on the work of the ones before us and gain the inspiration to create something to is uniquely yours.
Don’t hesitate to use the artistic expressions of the filmmaking masters to assist you in fabricating your distinctive language on the silver screen.
Filmmaking As Art
Filmmaking itself is an art form. It is a creative process, a reflection of the mind of the artist inside the film format.
And every great artist needs to possess a dose of talent.
Naturally, the matter of talent in itself is not something anybody can learn, but in regard to cinema, you can learn to master the technicalities.
The use of the camera, the process, and the tricks of editing are things every filmmaker needs to master.
These are the elements that you can learn in film school, and more often than not, grasping this knowledge can ensure go faster and easier in the course of your filmmaking education.
There are people with experience and comprehension by your side to help you form your expertise and understanding.
While attending film school, you will also enjoy the privilege of easier gaining connections. You will often move in the circle of people who have direct relations with the industry.
Ultimately, one of the main benefits of attending film school is access to equipment.
This utility differentiates the film students from the rest because access to technology is often a big problem for aspiring filmmakers.
With the proper equipment, you will be able to breathe life into your projects.
The Power of Filmmaking
The authentic power of filmmaking represents the possibility to convey a message on the screen for the world to see.
This power abides in the hands of a filmmaker. A vast number of great names in the history of cinema drew inspiration from the realm of personal experience.
The secret lies in the emotion, so don’t fear to let the movie become a representation of yourself.
Be mindful of the details, as they all hold importance, and nurture them as the very fibers of your being.
You must understand your materials and be precisely aware of the movie’s spirit. Think about the themes you want to explore and how you want the viewers to feel.
Learn from the visual poetry of Andrei Tarkovsky, the aggression and violence of David Fincher, and the melancholy and nihilism of Lars Von Trier.
Explore the greatness of your inner emotional language and let the audience read between the lines. The act of preparation is the root of your filmmaking creation. You have to work your way through a maze of the creative process to reach the soul of your film.
Determine the roles of cinematography, music, color, and metaphors. Form the universe in which they exist and notice how these elements begin to bind and complement each other.
By forging your unique storytelling, you are planting the pieces of yourself among the characters, scenery, dialogue, and meanings.
It is also significant to concentrate on the actor’s viewpoint.
The characters in the story and the actors who portray them represent a direct bond between you and the film.
They are the force that carries the scenes and the reason for bringing the narrative closer to the audience.
Ultimately, the viewers will begin to search for themselves in the characters on screen, and that is why it is so important to convey them on screen in a believable way.
How To Become A Director – Wrap Up
The road to becoming a director is never going to be easy. If this is your dream, know it will require a lot of determination, struggle, and never-ending effort.
Whether you decide to attend film school or not, learning as much as possible about filmmaking is vital. So scour libraries, the internet, whatever sources you can to expand your knowledge.
Be it writing a script or directing a short film, try, try, and try some more! Immerse yourself in every part of the movie industry.
From working in crews to attending film festivals, every bit of experience counts.
Remember, once your dream becomes a reality, all the hard work will be worth it!
If you aspire to become an influential filmmaker, remember that your heart and imagination are of the highest importance.
The desire to create a movie is always personal, as it grows from the emotions from within that we feel the need to translate into images. The films are formations of the visuals, born from individual experience.
It is only natural for us to search for the resembling experiences and emotions in films. The film is recording and memorizing a moment in time, a memory, or a feeling we think we might not experience again.
Creating a movie comes with a dose of definite responsibility. It is the responsibility of evoking people’s emotions.
Therefore, filmmakers must strive to portray uniqueness and unconventionality as much as possible. They are the ones deciding upon the soul of their movie.
Thus, if you’re craving to become a notable filmmaker, keep in mind to use your artistic voice and talent to create films that will inspire generations to come.