How Do You Become a Movie Director?

There are many ways to become a movie director who makes independent, documentary or commercial films. Due to the fact that the film industry is based in Los Angeles, almost everyone who wants to permanently work in the movie business will end up moving to this area. Afterwards, they may spend years volunteering, networking and working part-time jobs until they finally land a union film related job in Los Angeles. Movie directors who want to remain independent can start out their careers by following the advice below.

Analyze Movies

Watching movies isn’t just for entertainment, because there are unique ways to digest this visual art form. Directors can analytically approach film watching through established techniques. For example, turning off the sound will focus attention on how films are visually told and executed. In order to make the most of this experience, read books on professional camera operation and cinematography. Doing so will teach the reader that cinematographers avoid using audio because it distracts them from the camera setup, angles, shot sizes and movements. It is best to study classic masters of directing, such as Orson Wells and Alfred Hitchcock, and modern masters of directing, such as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Related to this, watching a film with the picture off will focus on how dialogue, background noises and the soundtrack add to or detract from a film. The power of soundtracks can be studied through classic film composers, such as Bernard Herman and Aaron Copland, and the modern composing masters John Williams and Ennio Morricone.

Study Scripts

Directors and film crew members rely on screenplays in order to translate ideas, words and action into artistic motion. One of the few ways to break into the Hollywood film industry is through writing successful screenplays, and then transitioning to producing and directing. Some of the best and biggest Hollywood directors followed this path. This includes Quentin Tarantino, who started out his career with his screenplay for Pulp Fiction. He went on to direct Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight and the Kill Bill. Shane Black, who wrote the scripts for Lethal Weapon and the Last Boy Scout, made his directorial debut film with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It is acknowledged as one of the most well-made black comedy crime films of all time. Reading screenplays introduce students to the absolute basics of filmmaking. For example, film scripts should be 120 pages long, which translates to one minute of film per page, and they use unique vernacular, such as FX for special effects and VO for voice over. The Internet Movie Script Database (IMSDb) offers a database of screenplays.

Study the Art and Science of Acting

Directors oversee the entire production of a movie, but their main job is communicating and guiding actors. Dealing with actors can be one of the most challenging aspects of directing films. The problem isn’t always stubborn or conceited actors, but actually directors who micromanage staff and suppress creativity. Some of the most successful directors encourage actors to share ideas, which actually improves the film making process and final quality of the product. For example, when Harrison Ford was filming the famously funny fight scene in the market between himself and an armed enemy in Raiders of the Lost Ark, he was ill and asked Steven Spielberg if he could simply shoot his assailant because he needed to rest. As a result, the assailant demonstrates their impressive sword skills, and Harrison Ford’s character Indiana Jones simply shoots the assailant and walks off.

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Anyone who wants to become a movie director should consider earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree related to creative writing, multimedia editing or film production.

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