In general, film directors are in charge of, well, as the name suggests, the entire film. This involves many different things, from pre-production, production and right up till post-production. Film directors would also have to interpret a script and have a clear vision in mind - casting of the right characters, thinking of the right sound and music, ensuring the story develops in a way that engages the viewers at all time with an unforgettable climax, and of course marketing and selling the movie - and create the outcome through a movie that’s played in their mind. Of course, this clarity gives the team - production, actors, technician, crew and everyone involved - direction so that everyone is clear of what’s important.
As a film director, you also get the opportunity to work with famous actors depending on how high profile your project is. So, don’t get too starstruck when you meet say Hugh Jackman, Megan Fox or Scarlett Johannsen.
Budgets are also a critical area that film directors oversee and manage; so, as much as you’d like to hire Matt Damon for your movie, always keep in mind the total budget of your film as they are many people involved.
From taking, editing and calling the shots, film directors are also very involved in the post-production stage as this is where everything that’s been filmed comes together in a beautiful masterpiece. If you’re not getting the outcome you want from a shot, yell “Cut” and “Re-take!” as many times as necessary to capture that magical moment in your mind.
Why Choose This Job?
Where do we start? Well, first, you get to “live your dreams”, maybe not literally but definitely through the screen. You bring joy and excitement to people by turning your visions into reality and telling your story through your eyes and consequently from the eyes of the characters you create in your movie. That said, this industry is cut-throat and very few people actually make it to be well-established and renowned film directors like Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese. The road to success as a film director is long, tough, hard and sometimes treacherous. If you can stick through a rough start, you could end up with a fulfilling and rewarding career. Hey, don’t take our word for it. John Dowdle, rising horror film director describes the process of filmmaking as “magical [where] you have utter control of what’s being shown to the audience, sculpting time and space to tell cinematic lies of things happening on screen that never do in reality.”
Even legendary film director, Steven Spielberg can attest to that. In a 1985 interview with Time magazine, he said,
“I dream for a living. Once a month the sky falls on my head, I come to, and I see another movie I want to make. Sometimes I think I’ve got ball bearings for brains; these ideas are slipping and sliding across each other all the time. My problem is that my imagination won’t turn off.”
Most film directors will tell you that the best part of the job is the film-making process as no two films are the same. From the process of directing a single film, you’ll tap into different creative inspirations, so you will never get bored doing what you do.
Think you’re cut out to be a film director? Well, due to the nature of the job and the amount of people you interact with on set, each day, film directors with a certain set of skills would fare better. Check to see if you have them:
1) Lead a team
When you direct a film, it involves possibly dealing with up to hundreds of film crew, from cameramen to actors. That’s not an easy task. You should feel at ease to lead and function as a group leader to manage an entire production crew, casting the vision of the film you want to achieve.
2) Communication Skills
As with most jobs, this one’s a no brainer as having sound ability to communicate well with hundreds of people effectively will go a long way to ensuring the success of your film. When dealing with so many people, there are bound to be conflicts. So, being able to resolve conflicts and differences amicably is key. Just imagine your lead actor disagreeing with your vision for a scene - your ability to critically manage a working resolution is paramount not only to that actor, but to the overall production crew.
3) Being decisive pays off
While this may come as a shock, your ability to make hard decision quickly and decisively will be important in setting the right tone and expectation that will meet the timeline, budgets and vision you have for your film. From the film’s direction, to who you select as your actors and right down to the music used, it’s key that you are able to make quick decisions soundly.
4) Able to work under pressure
20-hour days are not uncommon in the life of a film director. People who manage their stress well and are able to function under a tremendous amount of pressure and deadlines are well-suited to be film directors due to the often demanding hours working on a film set.
5) Passion & self-motivated
Last but not least, a film director should have drive and passion. Directing films should be a passion, not a chore. You won’t be able to share your vision with the rest of the production crew and cast if you lack the drive and passion. Without passion, a film lacks personality, character and depth, which will surely be translated through lacklustre performances by your actors and crew.
I’M READY! SIGN ME UP!
Now, where do you start? Well it varies from country to country but generally, while studying for an official degree is not required to get into the business, attending film school to get a certification or degree is something that’ll give you an edge. Some even pursue degree in Theatre & Performing Arts, where they learn the industry and get a chance to master their craft by being trained in cinematography by having access to workshops and internships. Most importantly though, it’ll be the starting point for you to build the necessary connections and network within the industry. That said, nothing beats having a strong passion and dedication to perfect your craft by going for auditions and tryouts and networking as much as possible in the hope that you’ll get discovered.