Being a film director is the dream job of many, and it could be the perfect job for you if you are prepared and willing to invest time in it and have a creative vision and an amazing ability to create something out of nothing. You just have to keep in mind that movie director jobs are very competitive and that you may not achieve your goal for years or even decades. However, if this is your dream, you should go after it.
Part 1 of 3: Starting Your Career
Step 1. Watch movies critically
If you're interested in becoming a director, you've probably seen a lot of movies, but you can start using this movie-watching experience as a way to learn about directing. Watch as many movies as possible and notice the details.
- Strive to count at least 15 mistakes in every movie you watch, paying attention to mistakes in acting, editing, plot continuity, etc.
- As you watch movies, develop an awareness of storytelling. You could also watch them without sound to notice how the story is told through the images, or you can pay attention to the dialogue, the soundtrack and other sounds of a movie to determine how the story is exposed through what the characters say.
Step 2. Start making short films
If you want to become a director, it is important to start immediately and use all the necessary means to make your own short films. If you don't have a camera yet, get one. While having a quality one will help you produce better movies, you should start with whatever you can get.
- Write your own script or work together with a writer friend.
- Get together for a weekend with a group of friends and shoot scenes for a short film. Over time, you can edit them together using a program like Adobe Premier.
- When making short films, you have to start learning about the technical aspects of directing. You will need to know how to edit, write and also do everything else. Also, by making your own short films, you will have the opportunity to hold various positions and develop different skill sets.
Step 3. Learn to act
In order to learn how to direct an actor, it is best to gain experience in acting. This could be as an actor in your own movies or as part of a theater group. By learning more about acting and practicing it yourself a bit, you will be able to appreciate the actors you work with more and can make it easier for you to communicate with them.
Make an effort to learn the lingo of the actors. For example, you could learn about different acting strategies or techniques, such as classical acting and method acting
Step 4. Read other people's scripts
You may write your own scripts at first, but you may need to work with other people's scripts later. Reading scripts written by others is a good way to practice bringing other people's stories to life. As you read other people's scripts, make an effort to think through the details of how you would shoot each scene.
For example, how would you position two people who are having an argument in a scene? What camera angles would you use? What kind of lighting? What sounds would there be in the background?
Step 5. Consider attending film school
It's definitely not a requirement, but attending film school is a good option for three reasons: It gives you hard-hitting experience, it gives you access to technical equipment, and it helps you network. While many people were successful without ever attending film school, there are many more who were successful and did. There you can access internships, workshops and, most importantly, names, names, names. In case you have a project, you will be assigned a technical team and you can also establish contacts by helping other people.
Some of the top film schools only in the US (although highly competitive) are New York University; the University of Southern California; the University of California, Los Angeles; the AFI of Los Angeles (acronym in English of the American Institute of Cinema); and the California Institute of the Arts. Several well-known directors, including Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Ron Howard, George Lucas, John Singleton, Amy Heckerling, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Francis Ford Coppola, and John Lasseter, have attended these institutions
Step 6. Work on a production team
Keep in mind that you don't become a movie director overnight. Directors mostly started out as messengers or camera operators, or in other positions as part of a production team. No job is too little. Regardless of filing paperwork, making sure to deliver food to the actors, or keeping an eye on the camera crew in the evenings, it's all a step in the right direction.
- If you are attending film school, you could look for internships. Otherwise, search Craigslist where you live to familiarize yourself with the creative personalities in your area and offer your services to them. Being friendly and trustworthy will make others want to work with you again, and the jobs you get will get better and better.
- A production company is more likely to give you a shot if you have 5 years of experience as a production assistant than if you are a youngster who just graduated from film school. So you could get a job as a production assistant or other entry-level job on a production crew and do your best.
Step 7. Start networking
In short, you cannot be a director without a reel. This is the most important thing to have but, having said that, in this industry it will definitely be much easier for you to show this reel if you have a contact that opens the doors for you. To achieve this, you need to start networking immediately, as you will have more opportunities the more people you meet.
Attend industry events (eg, get-togethers, conventions, parties, premieres, etc.) and introduce yourself to others. Try to develop a good relationship with those you know by offering to help them with their projects in the future or by inviting them to work with you
Part 2 of 3: Meet the requirements
Step 1. Get other jobs to get by
During your journey to becoming a film director, you will need to develop your resume through other types of directing jobs, such as directing music videos, television shows, and commercials. While they won't pay you millions for these jobs, they'll help you fill out your resume with directorial experience.
Some of these jobs will be high paying and you may even enjoy them. For this reason, avoid turning down a directing job just because it's for a commercial rather than a feature film
Step 2. Make more advanced short films
The fastest way to add more material to your reel is by making short films with friends you've made in the industry. You can work together with them and with other people who are also trying to break into the industry. While sometimes the budget will have to come out of your own pocket and sometimes not, this is a necessary stepping stone to success.
Step 3. Submit your short films to film festivals
If you have made a film that you are particularly proud of, you could enter it in a film festival. The great thing about this option is that you can sign up for a film festival anywhere. There may be a few festivals where you live that you can participate in.
- The Sundance festival is competitive, receiving 12,000 submissions every year. So you may want to start small and work your way up from there. You just have to be careful to meet deadlines and format requirements.
- Quentin Tarantino's film Street Dogs was discovered at the Sundance Film Festival, and it was also at a film festival that Steven Spielberg came across a then-unknown film called Paranormal Activity.
Step 4. Assemble your reel
Your reel or portfolio is what you will present to any project that seeks a director. Therefore, you must be careful that yours is impressive. Models present modeling portfolios, actors present photos of their faces and resumes, and directors present their reels. In yours, you should include information about your education, your professional experience, and your movies. This is what you should mention:
- information about your educational experience
- a resume showing your experience so far
- your contact information
- video clips where you also show your skills for editing, writing, animation and cinematography
- a list of the film festivals you have participated in and the awards you have won
- miscellaneous experience (such as music videos, commercials, animated shorts, TV shows, etc.)
- snapshots and storyboards showing your process
Step 5. Work on your interpersonal skills
Even if you become a director, this does not necessarily mean that you will be at the top of the hierarchy. You will need to work with many different people, and sometimes there will be disagreements, either between other people or between you and them. As a manager, it will often be your responsibility to keep everyone satisfied. Therefore, you should start working on your interpersonal skills at an early stage. In this way, you will be well equipped to handle different problems and personalities later on.
Do not forget that you may face very frustrating situations. Suppose the producer calls you and informs you that he didn't like a scene you shot at 5 a.m. in the middle of nowhere so you could get a perfect shot at sunrise. The actress changed some of her lines so that her character had greater depth and you no longer have the money. You should spend the whole night reviewing the script to include something that can be filmed the next day in the studio
Part 3 of 3: Succeed
Step 1. Get an agent
When you have a decent reel, an agent may want to represent you. These people can negotiate contracts for you and help you make decisions about what is best for you and what is not. However, keep in mind that you should never pay up front to find an agent, as the agent should only charge you if you make money as a result of their efforts.
Much of an agent's job is to negotiate your "percentages," which is a fancy term for the percentage of the amount the movie makes. If a movie makes $ 100, this is nothing to write home about, but imagine your next movie earning a billion dollars. Therefore, these percentages are quite important
Step 2. Avoid getting discouraged if you don't get recognition
You must prepare so that no credit is given to you but all the blame is placed on you. If a movie is successful, it is rarely credited to the director. However, if a movie doesn't do well, the director is always blamed. In the event that your movie is a flop, it will be difficult for you to land another comparable job soon. Even if you direct a successful movie, you may not be recognized as much as the actors.
While it might not be your case, the average person does not consider directors for the incredible film visionaries that they are, since the actors are the ones who define a movie. Therefore, in terms of the public, you will not be appreciated, and the same will be the case with the technical team. If you make a bad movie, the producers will blame you. If an actor doesn't like the way their hair looks, they will blame you. This is a cycle that you will, at best, tolerate
Step 3. Join a union
Once you've had multiple director jobs, you may be able to join a directors union where you live. For example, if you live in the US, you can join the Directors Guild of America (DGA), which will guarantee you a salary of $ 160,000 for 10 weeks.
Most of the time, in order to qualify, you must have been hired by a signatory company or you could have had a big hit out of nowhere. In the case of the DGA, the initial fee is a few thousand dollars, after which you pay a minimal fee. It is very worth it, especially if the projects are not constant
Step 4. Enjoy your great job
Once you achieve your goal, don't forget to enjoy and appreciate your job. While it will be stressful at times, it will also be quite satisfying, as you will always be doing something different depending on what stage of the movie you are working on.
- In the pre-production stage, the script is transformed into the film. It is something visual. You must determine all the logistics, the distribution and the basic elements. It can be said that it is the most important part.
- In the production stage, you will do what everyone imagines directors to do: tell the actors your vision for them and how you want the scene to unfold. However, you will also have very little time to craft a masterpiece. While it will be chaotic, it will also be exciting.
- In the post-production stage, you will need to meet with the editing team and put it all together. Take care to forge a good relationship with your publishers so that you are sure to be in tune with them. Also, during post-production, you will determine the music and all the other details to put it all together.
- Be a very visual director and dedicate all the time you need to your short films. You should only try to make feature films when you are truly ready.
- Build relationships with cinematographers, producers, production managers, and production designers, as you will be nothing without them.
- For your first movie, you can try something simple.
- You may want to read Directing Actors: How to Create Memorable TV and Film Performances by Judith Weston.
- In case you really want to be a film director, keep in mind that it will be a long-term journey and that, in the meantime, the jobs you get in the film industry may not be as well paid, so you will need to Learn to live austerity as you keep working toward your goal. Set a budget and stick to it.
- Be nice to everyone. The movie industry is smaller than you think and the word is getting out.
- Keep in mind that it is very difficult to get into this profession and that it could take you until you are close to 40 years of age to do so, if at all. However, you must not stop fighting for your dreams. You will succeed if you want it to happen at all costs.