Reel Opportunities

Director

Also known as: Filmmaker

What is a Director?
What does a Director do?

Directors are the creative leads of the film. They control a film‘s artistic and dramatic aspects and visualize the screenplay (or script) while guiding the technical crew and actors from pre-production through to the final edit in the fulfillment of that vision.

They are employed by the Executive Producer or Producer, who is ultimately in charge of a production. Directors start with a script, and work with a Screenwriter and sometimes a script editing team such as Story Editor. It’s not uncommon for the Director to be the Screenwriter as well.

It is the job of a Director to imagine the script in a visual form. As soon as a production has raised the cash it needs , they work closely with the Producers to appoint the heads of department, such as the Director of Photography, 1st Assistant Director and Production Designer.

They then work with Producers and Casting Directors to select the actors and with the Director of Photography to develop the filming style, including notes about camera shots and script changes. Some Directors rehearse actors ahead of shooting, though not all do. They ‘block’ the performance with the actors before filming begins, meaning they choreograph where actors are positioned in relation to the camera, where they and the camera will move over the course of a shot, and how they will deliver their dialogue.

At the same time, a Director will also be instructing other members of the crew, especially lighting, wardrobe, and make-up supervisors. Directors work to get the best performance out of the actors but also need to ensure that all technical aspects are in place to get a great scene filmed.

After filming, they lead the editing of a film, preparing a ‘director’s cut’. That cut will be reviewed by Producers, Distributors, and other collaborators before the final cut is completed.

What's a Director good at?
  • Leadership

    Share the vision of the film with a range of people from different departments, inspire them to do their best work, manage the cast and crew, make creative decisions

  • Imagination

    Envisage the film they want to make, see it, hear it, create the vision and execute it

  • Arts knowledge

    Have a passion for and deep knowledge of film and TV drama, appreciate all genres of art, so as to be able to draw ideas from a range of sources

  • Production

    Understand the film or TV drama production process from start to finish, from both technical and creative points of view

  • Staying calm under pressure

    Work methodically within a high-stress environment, make creative decisions when things don’t go to plan

Who does a Director work with?

Directors hold the creative vision for the whole production, so they have relationships with every department head. In pre-production, they work particularly closely with the Producers, Casting Directors and the production designer. During production, they have close on-set relationships with the Director of Photography and the First Assistant Director. In post-production, Directors work with the Picture Editor and Sound Editor to ‘cut’ the film or programme to create a desirable final product.

How do I become a Director?

There are many pathways to becoming a film Director. Some start as Screenwriters, Cinematographers, Producers, film Editors or actors. Others go to film school and start by making their own independent short films before “graduating” to feature-length works.

Whatever the route, this is a role that requires extensive knowledge of the film or TV drama production process. It’s worth starting your career by getting work as a Production Assistant on set or in a production office before working your way up through entry-level positions

Here are some more tips:

Training: Training is always a good idea. In Canada, there are tons of courses at college or university. Also lots of stand-alone courses. Both extended and short-term. You can also plunge in, try to get on-set, and gain the experience.

Build a portfolio: Create work that you can show off to employers. Direct your own short film, maybe using your smartphone, and edit it. This process is very helpful.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

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