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Director Job Description, Career as a Director, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

income directors television film assistant

Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Median—$52,840 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Directors are the main creative force in the making of films, television shows, and plays. They are responsible for making a wide range of artistic decisions. Together with the producer, the director hires the actors and staff. It is the director who works with the staff from day to day. Thus, the director must be familiar with all of the technical skills involved in producing a film, television show, or play. Directors usually work in only one art form, although some are more versatile.

Motion picture directors choose the location at which the film is to be shot, the setting of individual scenes, the angles of the cameras, and the gestures used by the actors. First, the director reads the script or screenplay and consults with the producer. Next the director devises what is known as the shooting script. This screenplay includes directions for the filming of every scene. Then the director divides the script into a day-by-day schedule. Directors must have a good idea of how long it will take to shoot a film. Budget limitations and the physical and emotional limitations of the cast and crew must also be considered.

During the actual filming process, the director advises and coaches the actors and gives instructions to the camera operator and other members of the crew. After the day's work is completed, the director and members of the cast and crew watch the "rushes." These are the sections of the movie that have been filmed that day. They help to give the director and the others a sense of how the film is progressing. The rushes point out errors and weak spots and lead to necessary changes. After watching the rushes, the director may decide to reshoot a scene.

Unlike movies, television shows are not heavily edited after they are taped. Instead, a process similar to editing takes place during the taping. The director "cues," or gives instructions to, the camera operators during the taping session so that the tape comes out correctly without editing. The director and the camera operators communicate through the headsets they wear.

The stage requires technical skills different from those needed in television or the movies. Rather than decide how a shot should look, the theatrical director must think of how the play looks in the limited space of a stage. Theatrical directors work closely with scene, costume, and lighting directors, as well as with actors. Directors do most of their work when their plays are in rehearsal; however, even after a play opens and has been running for some time, the director may return to make changes or coach the actors.

Education and Training Requirements

There are no formal educational requirements for directors. However, directors must be familiar with all the different aspects of their art form. Many of the technical skills involved are now being taught in college courses. There are many film schools in the United States that offer classroom training and directing opportunities for aspiring directors.

Theatrical directors usually have a great deal of acting experience. Filmmakers and television directors, however, usually arrive at directing by learning the technical aspects of the work. To get a job in the programming department of a television station, candidates may need a college degree.

The Directors Guild administers a training program for second assistant motion picture directors. The program includes seminars and on-the-job training. Applicants must have either a bachelor's degree or three to fifteen years of related production experience. They must be available to work in the United States during the training period. Those who complete the program are listed in the industry Experience Roster. A listing qualifies them to work as a second assistant director but does not necessarily lead to a job as a director.

Getting the Job

There is no single or easy way to get a job as a director. Talent and experience are important. Directors are usually hired because they are known for the quality of their work. Many jobs are obtained through personal contacts.

Those who are interested in television often begin by working for a television station, usually in a smaller market. There, they may start with any one of a number of jobs—such as an assistant to the director—and work their way up to a job with more responsibility in a larger market. Large film companies usually hire only those directors who have demonstrated skills and accomplishments. Small, independent film companies sometimes hire people with little or no experience. Candidates may convince prospective employers of their talent by showing films they have made on their own or for courses in college. Many theatrical directors work as stage managers before becoming directors. Most direct in community and small showcase theaters before working on major productions.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Directors are at the top of their profession. With experience and success, an individual director may achieve fame or critical distinction. Some directors branch out into different art forms—for instance, a theatrical director may become a filmmaker. Others become well known for their work in specialized areas such as documentary filmmaking. A director may also become a producer, which involves more managerial duties.

Directors' assistants, however, advance in a more patterned way. Second assistant directors may become first assistant directors. On the other hand, the move from first assistant director to director is not so assured. These two jobs require different skills. The position of director is basically creative, whereas the assistant director's job is one of management.

There are relatively few jobs available for directors. The job market is very competitive and employment opportunities are expected to grow as fast as the average through the year 2014.

Working Conditions

Directors do not work a regular workweek. During the making of a movie, a film director may begin work in the early hours of the morning and work late into the night. Television directors may start even earlier.

The work is strenuous and requires a great deal of time and dedication. Directors may be unemployed for long periods. However, the opening of a play or the completion of a film or television show can offer a great deal of satisfaction.

Where to Go for More Information

Directors Guild of America
7920 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(310) 289-2000
http://www.dga.org/

Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers
1501 Broadway, Ste. 1701
New York, NY 10036-5653
(800) 541-5204
http://www.ssdc.org/

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings vary widely with each production and each director's contract. Income also depends on the industry as well as the experience and popularity of the individual director. The median income for a director is an estimated $52,840 per year, according to the 2004 survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Directors in the motion picture industry earn more than those in radio and television. Top directors command salaries in the millions of dollars.

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about 7 years ago

Right now im in the process of choosing the college in which i want to attend. its a known fact that i want to go into the film industry, but im not too sure on what exactly i want to do! my 1st choice was to be a video/film producer, recently i changed my decision to becoming a video/film director. i feel that fits me more since i like to be in charge a lot! i've been looking for colleges/universities with such majors but haven't been of much luck... maybe i am just not looking hard enough! can anybody please give me so advice???

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about 7 years ago

hi,my name is lisa...i'm 14 and all i do is art,i'm lost in what to become and can't seem to fit in.i never know what my career is going to be,but when i thought of what makes me happy,something i could see myself really doing for the rest of my life was to make movies on life!! not documentaries and such,but more the true meaning behind the lives of human beings and situations we find ourselves in, what about the truth? wouldn't you like to know what really goes on and why?,why is it that we do the things we do? and we have these emotions and our lives are little universes on thier own.Thats what i want people out there to watch...but then agian i'm just 14,and what do i know?

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over 6 years ago

hey, i'm in college and agree with the ppl on here other than about the classroom comment, my teachers for film production are awesome, they've worked on big films, sadly the only one i can think off the top of my head is brokeback mountain, but there were way better ones lol. In class is very difficult and they get us to do a lot of work, we learn A LOT and it's confusing sometimes, learning about lighting and filters and different types of film stock etc, GO TO SCHOOL you'll have a better chance in the industry and we also do a whole lot of filming, i've already shot 3 short films and the last one i did was awesome... i can't wait for the rushes to get back! good luck to all of you and i hope to see you at the top, cuz that's where i plan to be!

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over 6 years ago

hi, just wondering if anyone can tell me if there is an jobsin this sector... i've had my mind set on this for a long time and i'm still in school... any info form directors themselves would be awesome...
thanks dave
(ireland)

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over 8 years ago

For all of you who would like to be directors, get out and shoot. Alot of time is sent in classrooms these days, but its kind of hard to film while seating at your desk. I reccomend seeing if there any local indie films shooting, this will get you experience on a set, and familiar with "set" terms. Good luck...

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over 7 years ago

To all those who are asking for some magical advice on how to become a director, there is none: go out and rent a camera (if you are in college you can usually rent equipment for free), and start filming. Seriously, just start making films. Film is not like medicine where you need a decade of training before you can operate- you will learn film by well... filming. Once you have sufficient footage google for freeware editing software- there's plenty to choose from. This wiki site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_editing_software gives a pretty good outline. Experiment with cuts, sounds, transition, animation if you are into it. If you enjoy the process enough, soon you will have a sizable resume to showcase. Post the videos to youtube, gain popularity, start applying to independent film companies. Heck, make your own independent film. Get noticed! Before you know it, you'll be working in Hollywood!

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about 7 years ago

I agree with Pavel, but i also understand what Lisa is going through. Sometimes my mind can go crazy and wonder what is my next move. Even after college; what is it? But i believe that if you know what will make you happy, then you will have your opportunity and meet people that relate to you from the realm of your spirit. that's what helps me continue on and keep moving towards my goals; which seem to be endless. For the skies are not the limit; their just a stepping stone to endeavors unknown. make Contacts like crazy!!! become a fiend of Networking!!

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over 5 years ago

I am 17 years old and in high school. I really want to become a director some day. I'm writing a careers paper for my english class and this page has been very helpful to me. Directing a film is a beautiful thing because its one of those careers that is still true to the heart. You don't need special education or training to do it because I believe it should be a sort of reflection of everyone who had a part in it and be able to show a deep, meaningful message to the viewers.

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about 6 years ago

this website si very helpful to me. I am doing a reporand I Directing and this website geverything that I need.

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about 6 years ago

Like lisa i am 14 too and have been shooting movies with my friends for years. Lisa i would say get to know filmmaking there are lots of great places like filmriot on youtube to learn about filming. If you want some good tutorial places email me nickseinfeld@gmail.com

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over 6 years ago

i am in university student

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over 8 years ago

Hi my name is acia and I am 16 years old and i want to become a movie director can you guys please help me on how to become a director i would apreciate it SO MUCH

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about 6 years ago

how much does a director get paid?/

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almost 6 years ago

To become a director; it's not all business. But it certainly isn't as easy as buying a camera and directing. How do you know what camera is good for film directing and the appropriate price for it? You study. Making home films is better than doing nothing but it certainly doesn't make you ready to become a director.

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over 6 years ago

Hi. :D

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over 8 years ago

Hi My name is Ami and I really want to be in the TV program meaning anything with the backstage work or being a director, producer and so on. My parents recommend me to be a film director. Could anyone please give me some tips for the TV business??



Thank you!!

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over 8 years ago

I am really driven to become a film director. My goal is to one day be making huge Hollywood films. I was wondering if anyone with experience in this would be able to give me some advice in how to achieve this.

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over 5 years ago

Hello,
An organization's athletic director is required to manage the promotional, logistical and financial aspects of the respective athletic department. This will require a bachelor's degree and will often necessitate a master's and or education experience.
No matter which level, athletic directors oversee all aspects of an athletic program, including hiring coaches,
scheduling, budget preparation, promotion, and facility management.

"do follow">director careers

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almost 6 years ago

yea buddy

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over 5 years ago

Hi everybody, lke lisa and nick I'm 14 and am looking into this business. In all honesty it's all really new to me and I'm just getting statred. Last summer I made a short film for the fun of it and ended up loving it A LOT more than anyone could've expected. Right now I want to go out and do another, but I'm struggling to find out what kind of camera I shoud get (I didn't even have one :P) Any suggestions?

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about 5 years ago

very helpful and imformative.

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over 5 years ago

well i love actin,and ev passion 4 directing movies.but hw du i start

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about 4 years ago

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about 4 years ago

I think film directors must be stressed they must be all like "I wanna be drunk when I wake up,' because ya, kno, they're stressed. anyways i'm writing a song for a movie. it's turning out great. complex business thhe film industry is...

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about 6 years ago

Man when I think about my life..this is what i want to do, i could spend hours doing my math homework but the only thing that will be on my mind is movies and music and being on set! School books only suck the creativity out of people and being creative is so important, compare yourself at three..cold you imagine the same things you did now? not a chance, this is where it is, directing, acting being apart of some form of art!:P don't wait, experience and people are everything take the chances you can!:)

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about 5 years ago

very informaitie information,it seems like i am facing a crisis in choosing a career but after reading this article im now certain.i only wish that i could find a mentor or just good advise that can get me there because i have always known that i want to be a film director but how to go about it is the problem.(cape town)

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over 5 years ago

Hi everybody, lke lisa and nick I'm 14 and am looking into this business. In all honesty it's all really new to me and I'm just getting statred. Last summer I made a short film for the fun of it and ended up loving it A LOT more than anyone could've expected. Right now I want to go out and do another, but I'm struggling to find out what kind of camera I shoud get (I didn't even have one :P) Any suggestions?

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almost 6 years ago

Please I would like to know more about Director job discription

Cane you send to me via my mail address inocentshayo@gmail.com

Thanks in advance

Kindly regard

Inocent