What is a film choreographer?

A film choreographer is the creative mastermind behind the dance and movement sequences in movies, combining artistry, technical skill, and storytelling to bring cinematic dance, coordinated movements, and even fight scenes to life. Aspiring to this role means diving into the world of motion, rhythm, and emotion on the big screen.

Your primary focus as a film choreographer is to conceptualize, design, and coordinate dance routines that seamlessly integrate with the movie’s narrative. This involves collaborating closely with directors, producers, and costume designers to align the choreography with the film’s vision and aesthetics.

Your creative flair and understanding of various dance styles—be it contemporary, ballet, hip-hop, or cultural dances—allow you to craft sequences that captivate audiences. The job demands a keen eye for detail, impeccable organizational skills, and the ability to adapt choreography to different filming conditions and actor abilities.

Often, you’ll conduct rehearsals, guiding actors and dancers through routines and ensuring they translate flawlessly onto the camera. It’s a thrilling, demanding, and immensely rewarding career for those passionate about dance and visual storytelling.

What does a film choreographer do?

As a film choreographer, your role is to plan and coordinate dance routines into a film or TV series. You’re the architect behind the movement and rhythm that ramp up the emotional impact of movies. Your primary task is to create captivating dance sequences that align seamlessly with the storyline and characters.

Collaborating closely with directors and producers, you conceptualize and design movements that work with the narrative, evoke emotions, and mesmerize audiences. You’ll spend time researching, developing, and rehearsing routines, ensuring they fit in with the overall vision of the film.

You might find yourself choreographing everything from intimate duets to large-scale ensemble pieces, each tailored to suit the mood and context of the scene. Additionally, you’ll work closely with actors, teaching and guiding them through the choreography, ensuring their movements appear natural and fluid on camera.

Collaborating with costume designers, set decorators, and cinematographers, you integrate choreography seamlessly into the film’s visual landscape.

How do you become a choreographer?

Begin with a solid foundation in dance by enrolling in various dance classes to get a handle on various styles of dance like contemporary, ballet, jazz, and hip-hop. Mastery of different genres will broaden your skill set, allowing you to choreograph a wide range of scenes. Additionally, studying acting can be beneficial, aiding in understanding the nuances of conveying emotions through movement.

You’ll also need to understand the art of filmmaking and familiarize yourself with camera angles, editing techniques, and storytelling principles. This knowledge will enable you to choreograph dances that complement the cinematography. Your ability to interpret a script and translate it into captivating choreography is the entire point of being a good choreographer.

Practice by creating choreography for scenes from scripts or songs, focusing on conveying the intended emotions and enhancing the storyline through movement. By attending dance workshops, film festivals, and industry events, you can connect with other industry professionals in both fields. Collaborating with aspiring filmmakers on student projects or short films can help you gain hands-on experience and build your portfolio.

Staying dedicated and adaptable to different styles and directorial visions will set you apart. Becoming a film choreographer requires dedication, continuous learning, and a blend of artistic and technical skills.

Additional Information

While a formal degree can provide a valuable foundation, it’s not always a strict requirement to become a film choreographer. This career thrives on talent, experience, and a deep understanding of movement and its relationship to the story. Many successful choreographers have their way through practical experience, dedication, and networking.

A degree in dance, performing arts, or film studies can offer a structured education, exposing you to various dance styles, theories of movement, and film-related coursework. However, what truly matters in this field is your creative vision, ability to collaborate, and your portfolio showcasing your choreographic work.

Hands-on experience often holds more weight than a degree even if some formal education helps inform that experience. Apprenticeships, internships, and working on independent projects provide invaluable insights into the practical aspects of choreographing for film and filmmaking itself.

Building a diverse portfolio through these experiences demonstrates your adaptability, creativity, and understanding of the film medium. While a degree can offer base knowledge and connections, it’s your creativity, practical experience, and networking efforts that often define success in the field of film choreography.

Becoming a film choreographer demands a diverse skill set that blends creativity, technical abilities, and a deep understanding of both dance and filmmaking. Mastery of various dance styles is fundamental, allowing you to adapt choreography to suit diverse film narratives. Translating emotions, character traits, and plot elements into captivating choreography requires creative vision and an innate sense of aesthetics.

Being able to work with different directorial visions and working closely with directors, cinematographers, and actors is vital. Collaboration is key to aligning dance sequences with the overall cinematic narrative. Understanding camera angles, shot composition, and editing techniques is crucial as you’ll need to coordinate movements that complement the camera’s perspective.

Clear and effective communication is essential when conveying choreographic ideas to dancers and production teams. The ability to articulate concepts and collaborate smoothly ensures the realization of your artistic vision. Knowing technical aspects such as lighting, set design, and costume choices lets you know how to choreograph scenes that work best with the film shoot.

Depending on how much of a background you have in dance and/or filmmaking, you may need to enroll in classes to build a strong foundation in various styles. A solid understanding of dance technique forms the backbone of choreography. On the other side of the camera, familiarize yourself with the intricacies of filmmaking.

Study cinematography, editing, and screenplay analysis to comprehend how dance sequences integrate into the visual storytelling process. Understanding the language of film enhances your ability to choreograph for film. From there, you’ll apply what you’ve learned by creating choreography. Start with small projects, student films, or music videos.

Experiment with different styles and storytelling techniques to develop your choreographic voice. Talk with aspiring filmmakers, directors, and dancers and see what works for them–the more the better. Attend workshops, film festivals, and industry events to build these connections: collaborating on projects helps you gain practical experience and expands your professional network.

Identify mentors in the field—established choreographers or directors—who can provide guidance and valuable insights. Learning from experienced professionals accelerates your growth and understanding of the industry. Document your work because a portfolio showcasing your diverse styles, ability to adapt to different narratives, and collaboration with filmmakers serves as proof of your skills.

The answer to this question won’t be the same for everyone. If you already have some experience with dance, your path to becoming a film choreographer will be shorter than someone with no experience. There’s no fixed timeline and several factors come into play.

Education will play a role in some shape or form, although you may not need a full four-year degree. Many successful choreographers have entered the industry without formal degrees, focusing on practical experience instead. Even with a degree, you’ll still need to get hands-on experience to truly be able to create choreography that translates to the screen.

Becoming proficient in choreography involves practical experience and skill refinement. Starting with smaller projects and gradually working on larger productions helps develop your craft. This process (as you work your way up the ladder) might span several years as you hone your creative voice and adaptability to different storytelling requirements.

Networking and establishing yourself within the film industry take time, too. Building relationships, gaining recognition, and securing consistent work opportunities often need perseverance and dedication over several years, especially if opportunities to learn and work are limited in your area.

A choreographer and a cinematographer play distinct yet interconnected roles in the filmmaking process, each contributing unique expertise to create captivating visual storytelling. A choreographer specializes in designing and creating movement sequences, primarily dance-related, that enhance the narrative and emotional depth of a film.

They work closely with directors, interpreting the script or vision and translating it into choreographed sequences. Their focus lies in understanding body movement, rhythm, and expression, choreographing dance pieces that complement the storyline and character development.

On the other hand, a cinematographer, also known as the director of photography (DP), is responsible for the visual aspects of the film. They collaborate with the director to craft the film’s overall look, utilizing camera angles, lighting, lenses, and composition to capture the desired mood and atmosphere.

While they don’t choreograph movement sequences, cinematographers work closely with the director and choreographer to capture the choreography effectively on camera. Basically, a choreographer focuses on crafting movement and dance sequences that elicit emotion and contribute to the narrative, while a cinematographer concentrates on capturing these sequences and the overall visual aesthetic of the film.

Your toolkit may not be filled with traditional equipment seen in other filmmaking roles, but there are essential elements to creating captivating movements for the camera. Music is the heartbeat of your choreography, so a reliable sound system or music player allows you to experiment with different tracks, tempos, and rhythms, syncing movements seamlessly to enhance the emotional impact of the choreographed sequences.

Depending on the project, specific props and costumes might be integral to your choreography. Having access to these items during rehearsals helps dancers embody the intended character or story. Some kind of recording device–even if it’s just a smartphone–will help you record and review rehearsals.

While this isn’t really gear, you’ll need access to a studio or rehearsal space that can accommodate your vision for the choreography. The size, flooring, mirrors, and overall ambiance greatly influence your creative process. Your equipment might not be tangible in the traditional sense but combined with your creativity, you’ll be better able to create captivating movement on screen.

The earnings of a choreographer in the film industry can vary a lot based on several factors, including experience, project scale, location, and industry demand. For those just starting out, earnings might be modest. Entry-level choreographers working on smaller independent projects, student films, or low-budget productions might earn anywhere from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars per project.

This initial phase is more about gaining experience, building a portfolio, and establishing oneself in the industry. As you progress and gain more experience, your earnings tend to increase. Choreographers working on mid-level projects or with moderately-sized production budgets can earn between several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars per project.

Established choreographers, especially those involved in big-budget films, renowned productions, or working with A-list directors, can command significantly higher fees, ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more for their services.

Choreographers may have diverse income streams, too. Aside from film projects, they might earn through teaching dance classes, workshops, stage productions, or commercial gigs, contributing to their overall income. Building a reputation, networking, and continually honing your craft play vital roles in elevating your earning potential as a film choreographer.

Learn the skills you need to take your idea from paper to the big screen.

Real world film education by filmmakers for filmmakers, optimized for today!


Meet Our Mentors

Adam Weber

About This Mentor

Daniel Lir

About This Mentor

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs

About This Mentor

Alejandra Huerta

About This Mentor

Daniela Larsen

About This Mentor

All Job Opportunities

Explore diverse film careers, from choreographer to film director, offering vast creativity and technical growth.

"I had an amazing experience with the program. Got the chance to learn and know what to expect in the industry I'm interested in working in.. Working with a follow…"

Reymond Gutierrez – Las Vegas, Nevada

"I got great movie recommendations that gave me many creative influences. My mentor gave constructive feedback on my script. I learned about how to work on a film set and…"

Josh Chacko – Arlington, Washington

"The curriculum offered a fantastic jumping off point for me and my mentor to dig deep into any and everything filmmaking!"

Miranda Bellio – Newton, Massachusetts

Fill out the form below to contact admissions and learn about your opportunities.

Contact Us Form

"*" indicates required fields

*Not all programs are available in every state. Consult an Admissions Representative to learn more.



Bring Your ideas to life


Our admissions team is ready to help you.