How to Become a Director

If you have great management skills and a passion for film or theatre, you might wonder how to become a director. Directors are the professionals who manage the creative efforts that go into a life theatrical performance, a film, a television show or a radio broadcast. They choose a script for a theatre company to perform or movie studio to produce and decide how to bring the story to life. Directors audition, hire, instruct and manage actors and crew members. They oversee set and costume designs to make sure that the movie has a unified feel. As the leader of the creative endeavor, it’s a director’s job to keep the production running on schedule. Though directing is not always an easy career path to go into, it is exciting and rewarding.

To begin preparing for a career as a director, candidates should pursue a degree from a college or university. Popular majors for aspiring directors include acting, theater arts, communication, writing, journalism, or a radio/television/film program. To enhance their leadership skills, some students choose to major in business or arts management, instead. An aspiring director may seek first-hand experience by taking part in school drama productions or film projects.

A job as a director is not an entry-level position. To develop the skills to manage such a large production as a play or movie, aspiring directors must first learn about various aspects of the performing arts. They become actors themselves, or they write scripts or screenplays. They may dance or choreograph musical numbers. Aspiring directors may even experience the performance from the other side of the camera as a cameraperson or become part of a film editing team. Through immersing themselves in the culture of performing arts, aspiring directors learn what makes a performance successful and witness firsthand how good directors manage their actors and crews. Often, a candidate will begin his or her director’s career by taking a position as an assistant director. Though the role is often unpaid and rarely glamorous, it provides the aspiring director with more experience.

Directors earn a median salary of $68,440 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Actual wages of directors vary significantly, with the directors of major motion pictures typically earning much more than directors of smaller films or local theatre productions. The BLS reported that movie directors typically earn the most, with a median annual salary of $92,820, with cable and subscription television network directors earning a comparable $81,290 per year. In contrast, directors of radio and other televisions shows earn a median salary of $54,120 per year, and directors of life theatre and other performing arts shows make $51,960 per year. If you have the artistic vision to shape the performing arts and the leadership skills to bring out the best in actors and stage and film crews, knowing how to become a director could be the start of an exciting new career in the entertainment industry.

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