so you want to become a film director? but you’re still wondering, “how long does it take to become a film director?”
Join the club of many aspiring directors out there. But first, it’s important to note that there’s no one way to become a director.
every established director got to where he is through different means. so let’s take a look at the first choice you should make as an aspiring director.
to film school or not to film school
You don’t need to go to film school to have a career as a film director. but that’s not to say that formal training lacks benefits.
You may be interested in New York University. And earning your bachelor’s degree there will automatically land you in New York City, a great place for aspiring film directors.
or maybe you’re looking to be in los angeles at the american film institute. Either way, the location of your film school could be another deciding factor.
Either way, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for in your search for film school. remember: your career path to becoming a film director depends on what you make of it. so let’s look at the options you’ve set before you.
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benefits of film school
A formal education will not only teach you about cinema, film history, film studies, film production, post-production, pre-production and more. Film degree programs will also allow you to work closely with many directors in other fields related to film and fine art.
access to professional equipment
Film crew can be hard to come by. but a formal education will not only get you access to said film crew and maybe even get you on a sound stage as well.
It will teach you how to use it, what camera angles to implement, and what director takes to keep or scratch. You may even get the chance to work with a film production assistant and film production crew in a learning environment (read: lower stakes than Hollywood).
Most film directors didn’t get to where they are without their connections in the industry. and a bachelor’s program is packed with assistant directors or that film editor you’ll definitely want to work with in the future.
mentors and teachers
The filmmaking process can sometimes feel like an experiment for a new film director. And what’s better than having a mentor to help guide you through such trials and tribulations?
get a film degree
As we said before, a successful director doesn’t need to have a film degree. but bachelor’s degree programs in film and other fine arts programs are valuable when they demonstrate one’s hard work and commitment to the craft.
disadvantages of film school
Maybe you already know post-production and pre-production, and you don’t want to have to go through all this again. maybe you’re ready for your dream job as a movie director.
formal training takes time
The creative skills learned through undergraduate film programs don’t just happen overnight. they take time, and for some, that time could be better spent starting their careers as filmmakers.
can be expensive
If you thought a movie budget was astronomical, check out school fees. Even if he wants to become a film director, his wallet may not agree with the type of film degree programs that interest him.
skills to learn no matter what
but several film directors have made a name for themselves with or without film school. so don’t worry about it at all.
There are still a number of skills for you to master as a film director. And these film skills don’t necessarily require a classroom.
#1. learn the basics
If you want to become a film director, then you need to know everything about the work of a director. familiarize yourself with film studios, the video industry, short films, anything that helps you in the field.
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#2. critical analysis while watching movies
Don’t just show up at film festivals. attend film festivals and see what short films are currently being made.
who knows? you may know another film director who inspires your first movie, or your next movie!
#3. develop interpersonal skills
sure, there is a famous director here and there who is not known for his interpersonal or soft skills. but if you want to become a film director, know that you will need everyone on your side.
that means other film directors, your assistant director, the post-production team, the film production team, etc. Your movie or TV show will only suffer if you don’t know how to collaborate and engage.
#4. make your own short films
starts with a short film. then maybe get into more advanced short films.
For starters, you don’t need to have access to a production studio in Los Angeles to produce these types of films. so if you don’t have that kind of access, don’t let that put you off.
Either way, you’ll need to invest in your own films in order to build up a film director portfolio. That way, you’ll have a short film or two to back you up at industry events.
#5. read other people’s scripts
movies, movies, movies. each and every one is an education in itself. so get clips of other movie directors’ contact information and start reading about their scripts.
#6. gain experience in the film industry
Film directors tend to hold low-profile positions to begin with. but this is yet another opportunity for film directors to understand the ins and outs of the film industry.
Not to mention, it familiarizes them with several event rental spaces in the area where they could shoot their next feature film. So think of it as hands-on film studies in the field. or the history of cinema in action (pun intended).
#7. network with other filmmakers
Attending industry events is a great way to make connections with another film director or two. and you may even meet a film director who inspires you or wants to collaborate in the future.
#8. find your directing style
a film director needs to know how to stand out from the rest. after all, there are many people who want to become film directors. start perfecting your style now.
#9. Be open to as many directing gigs as possible
this means music videos, directing non-fiction, gaining experience in documentary specialties. anything that takes you out of his comfort zone, makes him a versatile filmmaker, and allows him creative freedom to explore.
#10. join a union
In particular, the Directors Guild is a great way to not only make film connections. but the directors guild can also protect your rights as a film director.
ready when you are, teacher
Your career as a film director will undoubtedly take you down a long and winding road. and ultimately it will be up to you to create such opportunities for yourself.
so be open to adventure. and look at all the possibilities for you to grow within your chosen field.
There are many ways to expand your career. even if not through the more traditional ways.
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