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How to Become a Movie Director

Majors Overview January 25, 2013

The creative aspects of film production are typically looked after by an individual called a movie director. Such creative inputs include providing coaching to actors, approving special effects, finalizing costume designs, determining movie locations and making script changes. While no specific education requirements are expected of movie directors, aspiring film directors seeking to embark on a career can select from various training and education programs available to them.

Common Requirements

Degree Level

Bachelor degree

Degree Field

Communication, Arts Management, Acting, Journalism or an equivalent discipline


Advancement is usually commensurate with experience

Key Skills

Management, Leadership and Communication

Other Requirements


The following is a step-by-step guide that should be followed by students who plans to pursue this career field.

Stage One: Getting a Head Start

A film director can begin his/her career without undergoing any formal training or education. Many film directors create short home movies or films as a precursor to undergoing training at a film school; by contrast, other directors hone their creative skills through hands on movie making experience rather than enrolling into a degree program in film making. For instance, some aspiring movie directors prepare for their film making careers by performing work in related aspects such as acting, producing and screenwriting; many movie directors begin by working as assistants to other directors.

Stage Two: Earning a Degree

Aspiring directors can earn an undergraduate degree in a related field such as film, or fine arts, among others. These programs usually takes four years to complete, and students can choose from direction-related majors; coursework includes training in areas such as camera application, acting techniques, text analysis, rehearsal procedures and casting. Students are also taught to shoot scripts and to create storyboards and use them. Production, screenwriting, storytelling and film history are among the common courses covered. Directing experience can be earned by students by collaborating in film projects, which are essential components of the course. Working at an internship within the film industry will likely to improve the career prospects of students by giving them assistance in developing professional contacts, getting an in-depth understanding of film production and developing technical skills. Students can benefit from an internship program by building a network of contacts, which are essential to career growth in the film industry.

Stage Three: Considering a Master Degree Program

Aspiring movie directors could also consider earning a master degree in fine arts that usually spans three years and leverage such training in developing their individual voices as directors. Directing programs usually provide management skills, thereby assisting directors in overseeing people engaged in several distinct film production areas. Prospective directors enrolling into a master degree program are required to develop a thesis and a professional portfolio; the thesis usually takes the form of a short movie. Coursework focuses on subject areas such as screen directing, movie development workshops and theme conceptualization. Enrolling in a nationally recognized theater arts program accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theater (NAST) will enhance the credentials of an aspiring director.

Stage Four: Continuing Education

Many aspiring directors want to get an edge in the highly competitive film industry through additional training and education. They can avail hands on training on an actual film set by enrolling in an assistant director training course offered by the Directors Guild of America (DGA). Graduates can join the DGA as members and could get employed to assist directors on film productions, which could serve as a launching pad for a career in movie production. Prospective directors could select training programs that include compensation to trainees for work completed by them. The DGA offers such programs in which trainees are considered as employees of productions and paid for assisting such productions.

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