Film Director

By TACP Staff on July 24, 2021

A film director is an individual responsible for taking a project’s script, directives from producers, participating talent and the elements of production; and combining it in order to deliver the raw footage desired by the film’s creators. Famous for their temperaments, on-set director’s chair, megaphones and periodically screaming “CUT!” the director is ultimately held accountable for eliciting exceptional performances and work from all individuals involved in the filming process.

What Is a Film Director?

Producing a film generally requires the helping hands of hundreds of people. One of the most important professionals during the production of the film, however, is the film director.

“What about the movie stars?” you may be asking. “Aren’t they important?” The short answer to that question is yes, they are extremely important in most cases. Some films, however, can be made without actors. No film, on the other hand, can be created without the constant presence of a film director.

Film directors are the professionals that are responsible for making the majority of the creative decisions during film making. A film director can often be referred to as a leader or supervisor during the production of a film. Without a director, the process of making a movie would be complete and utter chaos, instead of just slightly chaotic at times. Chances are a film that would not ever get made without the help of a director.

What Does a Film Director Do?

As mentioned above, a film director is responsible for nearly all creative decision making during the creation of a film. Directors will often work closely with members of the cast and crew, including actors, costume designers, lighting and sound technicians, cameramen, and writers. Some directors may even write or rewrite the screenplays for some of the films that they direct.

If a director did not write the screenplay for the movie that he is directing, his first duty is to thoroughly read through and study it. This will typically help him get a better understanding of how the film will play out, how it should look, and how the characters should react. By reading a screenplay, a film director should also be able to get an idea of what type of underlying messages and emotions that the film should convey.

After he has read a screenplay, a film director will then usually hire the crew and cast members. Choosing all of the main and secondary actors for a film can often be a long, drawn-out process. This generally involves auditioning several actors before narrowing the choices down and finally choosing actors to play each character in the script. Along with hiring main actors, a director will also usually have a hand in hiring extras as well.

Once the actors have been chosen for a film, a director will then usually try to determine which types of locations and settings will coordinate best with the script and help convey the proper feel of the film. With the help of the costume designers and coordinators, directors will also usually have a hand in determining what types of clothing – if any, in some cases – the actors will wear. For example, films that take place in different time periods will often require special costumes that need to be specially made.

A film director is also responsible for determining how a scene looks. For example, a director will often play a part in what type of lighting will be used during a scene, or what type of background activity will be going on. Although actors usually have a say in the majority of their actions, a film director will sometimes offer input about how they could improve a scene. For example, a director might instruct an actor on how to deliver a certain line or how to move his body in a certain way.

Once all the footage is shot, directors also usually help edit the film as well. This can include deleting scenes and splicing certain scenes together, so the film flows properly.

If a career as a film director was not already stressful enough, directors are also usually responsible for staying within a film’s budget and ensuring that it is produced within a certain timeframe. Some may even produce or act in the films that they direct as well. In fact, a number of directors actually began as actors.

Film Director Education & Training Requirements

Because a career in film direction involves working very closely with people, aspiring directors should be very outgoing. They should also have leadership skills, and work well under extreme pressure.

Talented directors typically have a vast knowledge of nearly everything to do with film, particularly acting. The majority of today’s directors were actors before they started directing. Acting experience better equips directors to instruct actors during a film production.

Although no formal education is really necessary to become a film director, aspiring directors may want to consider earning a degree at a film school. Degrees in film production, acting, or directing can help students learn the ins and outs of the movie industry as well as gain some experience. By the time that most students graduate from film school, they will usually have several student films under their belts.

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Film Director Salary & Job Outlook


The types of film that a director helps produce as well as his overall success typically plays a large part in his salary. Generally speaking, the budget of a film often determines the director’s salary. According to the guidelines of the Directors Guild of America, the minimum weekly salary for directors working on high-budget motion pictures was $16,508 in 2011. In comparison, a director working on a low budget motion picture will usually make much less.

Job Outlook

Finding work in a film direction career is not always easy. For the most part, finding work in the film industry, in general, is largely based on who you know and who you network with. Joining the Director’s Guild of America or some similar organization can be an excellent tool for aspiring actors as well. Many directors typically get their start in a film direction career by working under a more experienced director. For instance, they may be an assistant director, or they may participate in an internship.

Helpful Organization, Societies & Agencies

Related Careers in Film and Video

Consider these related careers in Film and Video.