Is it your dream to yell "Action!" on a movie set? Do you want to command the show, and execute your vision for a big screen production? Are you a natural born leader with artistic capabilities? Then a career as a director might be the job for you. For international students, there are many different ways to go about getting a career as a director.
How to Become a Director
There is no right way to become a director. No formal education is required, however it does help. There are many benefits to attending film school at a college or university. Many of the professors are still working in the industry and are well connected with other professionals in the industry. This opportunity to network could give you your big break. Professors could know the perfect person to pitch a screenplay or hand over your student film. Another benefit of international students attending a film schools is that you can learn the business. You learn who does what in a crew, how to produce a film, how to operate equipment and understand the technical basics of lighting, sound, as well as editing.
Choosing to go to a college or a university in New York City or Los Angeles would be wise. Just getting an entry level job or internship in production is getting your foot in the door and giving you the much needed experience that will be helpful upon graduation. A possible entry level job or internship can be an assistant director. Assistant directors can then move up the ladder by becoming a second assistant director and then a first assistant director.
The Directors Guild in New York City also has a training program to help you become a second assistant director. However, it is only open to candidates who have a bachelor's degree. The program selects a limited number of students and is two years long with up to 350 days of on the job experience.
If you don't have the resources to live in Los Angeles or New York City, finding a school that has a good film major around the U.S. isn't hard. For example, Florida State University, across the nation from California has a very good film program. You can also find local production companies in the city of your college and university to work for and gain valuable internship experience.
Having a career as a director means you will be doing a lot of different tasks. Often a producer will come to you and ask if you would like to direct a film they believe in. During the pre-production stage, you will consult with the producer(s) and writer(s) on the vision for the film, locations, crew, casting, storyboarding and revising the script. But during production is where you play the biggest role. You direct the cameramen on angles and shots you want, advise the actors and pretty much run the show. The director also decides if a scene needs to be reshot.
Hours and Salary
Any type of job in the film industry is going to have irregular hours. Directors often work long hours for weeks at a time. Since productions are not long term commitments, after the production is finished, directors could be without work for months. You have to actively search for other productions to work on.
Median annual wages of directors were $64,430 in 2008 in the U.S. But it varies from country to country and what kind of production you are working on. For example, in the United Kingdom, the average salary is 35,677 euros.
Competition to have a career as a director is fierce. There are many directors out here with more experience and a better reputation. However, a career as a director is expected to grow 11 percent during the next decade in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Internationally, the film industry is alive and well too. Film production and movie attendance is up in the European Union. Bollywood outsells Hollywood in ticket sales and also produces more films than Hollywood does in a year.
A career as a director may seem like a glamorous job. However, it takes a lot of hard work to make it to the top of Hollywood, Bollywood or any other production company and industry throughout the world. Directors work long hours and international students just out of college will not be a director of a large production starting out. Instead search for entry level jobs such as a second assistant director, in the industry and work your way up. Or, if you are feeling creative, direct your own small film or independent film.