Finding a Niche as a Film Director
Most everyone who dreams of working in the film business will at one time or another, imagine themselves as some kind of big time director. They can just picture themselves clad in a black leather jacket, cappuccino in hand, looking through a viewfinder and calling out instructions to an anxious set full of actors and crew members, hanging on their every word.
However the truth of the matter is that very few people are fortunate enough to achieve success as a director at the highest level. But that doesn’t mean there’s not work available for directors, because there is. You just may need to be a little more open-minded about what it is you are going to direct.
While feature films are the golden grail for directors, actors and just about everyone else in the industry, there are many other opportunities out there for talented directors. Television is generally considered the next step down from film and while it may mean a cut in prestige, working in episodic television might mean more job security. While the money earned by top TV directors isn’t quite up there with what top film directors earn, it’s certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Beyond episodic TV and film there are still a multitude of other opportunities out there. Commercials, music videos and reality TV all employ directors. Directing commercials can mean big bucks and earn you a fair amount of prestige in that area of the industry. Commercial directors also sometimes go on to direct sitcoms, episodics and even feature films.
Directing music videos can be one of the most creative jobs out there for the right director. Music video directors enjoy the creative aspects of being able to bring a song to life with visual imagery and are generally not burdened with the constraints of having to deliver a cohesive narrative. This can be very freeing and actually makes music videos one of the most visually creative mediums out there. Because of their ability to move things along quickly with fast cuts and engaging visuals, video directors often breakthrough into the feature film world doing action movies or other cinematic fair aimed at the youth demographic.
Reality TV may be few people’s dream job in the industry, however the most popular shows on the air today are reality TV. Being a director on a reality show presents unique challenges that differ from doing narrative film and TV. Many directors wind up taking a job in reality TV as a means to an end and wind up staying as they enjoy the creative challenge of shaping events that are really happening into a story that will engage viewers.
So while not everyone can be Francis Ford Coppola or Steven Spielberg that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to enjoy a sustainable career as a film director of some kind.