Traveling the world, mingling with the stars, all whilst creating your own film-masterpieces... life of a movie director. Or, at least, the idea sold to us and, we often, believe. Reality is that there are many, many directors/aspiring directors whose life is not so glamorous as they are still struggling, climbing the notoriously precarious career ladder of the cut-throat film industry. In this article, I will attempt to explain how to become a movie director.
At school or college it is advantageous, though by no means essential, for prospective directors to take film and/or media studies courses and manage/partake in in any media- based projects. These should give one a little taste of film production and will demonstrate enthusiasm and initiative to prospective employers/educational institutions. Post-16
A-levels are advised for prospective directors because, in addition to the necessary hands-on skills, directing involves many skills that can be acquired and demonstrated with A-Levels. For example, to name but a few; budgeting with maths, understanding how actors perform best with drama and psychology and context of films with, notably history.
Next steps and points for and against
Different paths available
Now one must make a difficult choice of career path. One is that of University. Here it is generally advisable to study a subject such Film Studies, Film production or Multimedia, preferably with the course involving theory, but definitely hands-on experience. The alternative is to jump straight into the film industry, typically as a runner and/or extra in small productions and then to hopefully work one’s way up the career ladder this way with the experience gained. The experience path
The route up the career ladder typically includes roles such as runner, art assistant, art director, casting director, assistant director, movie director and then, even, executive director (also known as producer) responsible for procuring contracts/funding etc. Not going to university
The benefits of jumping straight are that it is cheaper than the increasingly high cost of going to university, one typically starts a position that many graduates start at anyway and can build up a collection of useful contacts, because the film industry is one where the old adage ‘it’s not what you know; it’s who you know’ is generally considered applicable. See, for example, the cliquey portrayal of the Hollywood film industry portrayed in TV show ‘Entourage’, among others. Academia
The benefits of taking the more academic route are that one should get thorough grounding in theory, as well as having independence and flexibility to work on one’s own projects. The institution may also be able arrange contacts and experience. Arguably, Film directing schools represent a middle-ground between these two.