How to become a movie director

Latest posts by Liya Swift (see all)

Just as the home computer explosion in the early ‘80s opened up the music industry to the masses, the film industry also enjoyed a boon due to technological advances. With the advent of digital video recorders, mobile technology, and accessible digital editing software, moviemaking became more accessible, too.

And just as Spotify changed the way we listen to music, YouTube gave auteurs the chance to show their talents. While the majority of the video-sharing platforms’ users are more interested in the people in front of the camera, YouTube gives anyone the chance to shoot, edit, and present their own short productions online.

With the technology of today, anyone can be a director. Smartphones can be used to film videos at a grade school talent show or for creating slick independent films seen at film festivals around the world. Steven Soderbergh recently released a film shot entirely on three smartphones in 2018, Unsane.

The director behind the Ocean’s 11 movies, Magic Mike, and the coincidentally named sex, lies, and videotape, also won the Best-Director Academy Award for Traffic. If this new medium is good enough for an Academy Award-winning director, it should be good enough for you.

However, Soderbergh has a skillset earned over decades of experience working with film and video. Despite his “risky” decision to shoot solely on smartphones, he still used all fundamentals of filmmaking, including how to set a scene, block a shot, and position lighting. This means it takes more than a camera to become a TV, music video, or film director.

Experience Counts

In an earlier blog, we discuss the importance of knowing as much as you can about the film production process. The same thing can be said of directors – understanding how a film is made can go a long way to making sure the crew, cast, and others are on the same page.

In fact, many directors didn’t start out behind the camera. Even those that went to film school for four years didn’t just jump into the director’s chair. They started out as production assistants (P.A’s), line producers, 2nd AD’s, film editors, cinematographers, and writers. By paying attention, they got an insider’s view and understanding of the feature film production process.

Study on Your Time

They say there are only seven plot lines in the history of entertainment. Which doesn’t leave a lot of room for new ideas. That’s a bit of a joke, of course, but by taking time to watch movies from the past, movies that you like, and movies that are critically acclaimed, you can begin to establish your style of movie-making.

Quentin Tarantino has made a career of making gritty, darkly humorous films that constantly borrow from the past. Spaghetti Westerns, Blaxploitation, and the Far East thrilled Tarantino in his youth and he continues to lean on that upbringing. Find the movies that move you, and figure out why.

As career training goes, that’s not so bad, right? But put the popcorn down and really study what works and what doesn’t. Watch with the volume off to see what the camera captures. Close your eyes and listen to only the audio – are you noticing sounds that you didn’t before?

You’ll get a better understanding of how the parts of a movie work together. At some point, though you’ll need to start rolling up your sleeves. We have an ideal way to do so.

Get Dirty on Day One

With the Film Connection, you’ll be working in a real-world production studio from day one. Working with a mentor, you could be setting boom mics on a film set, sitting in on pre-production meetings, or working with an editor during post-production for a tv show.

Sound design, special effects, and other creative aspects of a movie will all be covered in our Film Connection Film Producing and Editing Program. Working with an industry insider, you’ll learn tricks of the trade, real-life hacks, and how to work with others.

In fact, working with others may be one of the biggest benefits of applying to Film Connection. For better or worse, it’s not what you know as much as who you know in the film industry. Make sure you use it to your advantage. Show up on time. Be Responsible. Pay attention. And work your butt off.

Your mentor will notice. Others in the studio will notice. And when their contacts call looking for a director’s assistant or a PA, make it so that the name that comes out of their mouth is yours. The first step, apply to Film Connection and get learning and building your experience today.

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