How to Become a Movie Director: Education Requirements
Research the requirements to become a movie director. Learn about the job description and read the step-by-step process to start a career in directing.
Do I Want to Be a Movie Director?
A movie director is the chief person responsible for the creative aspects of film production. While creating the look of a film, movie directors may make script changes, determine movie locations, finalize costume designs, approve special effects and provide coaching to actors. Jobs may be stressful, with often working under deadlines. Filming and directing in a wide range of weather conditions is also common in this profession.
Although there are no specific education requirements, a bachelor's degree in a related field and relevant work experience are common preparation for prospective film directors hoping to launch their careers. The following table contains the main qualifications and requirements needed to become a movie director, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Journalism, communication, acting, arts management or a comparable discipline|
|Experience||Advancement is typically commensurate with experience|
|Key Skills||Communication, leadership, management|
Step 1: Get a Head Start in the Industry
Formal education and training as a director is not required for a career in the field. Many movie directors begin making movies, such as short films or home movies, before going to film school. Others learn basic skills creatively without ever earning a film degree. For example, some professionals develop an interest in directing by working in various aspects of film development or production, such as screenwriting, producing or acting; generally, these professionals begin as assistants and work their way up.
Step 2: Earn a Degree
Aspiring directors may pursue a bachelor's degree program in fine arts, film or a related field. These programs typically last four years and offer directing concentrations, which help students develop skills such as casting, rehearsal procedures, text analysis, acting techniques and camera application. Students also learn how to create and use storyboards, shoot scripts and brackets. Common courses include film history, storytelling, screenwriting and production. To gain directing experience, students are typically required to participate in a set number of collaborative student film projects as part of their coursework.
- Work at an internship. Most film schools strongly encourage internships within the film industry in order to develop technical skills, understand the ins-and-outs of film production and develop professional contacts. Internships can also help students build a network of contacts, which can be essential to career growth in the film industry.
Step 3: Consider a Graduate Degree
Master's degree programs in fine arts are often three years in length and help filmmakers develop their own voices as directors. Directing programs often focus on management skills, helping directors to oversee people across many different areas of film production. Most master's degree programs require the development of a professional portfolio and a thesis, typically in the form of a short film. Coursework covers areas in theme conceptualization, movie development workshops and screen directing.
- Find an accredited program. The National Association of Schools of Theater (NAST) accredits theater arts programs throughout the nation. Aspiring graduate students should look for master's programs accredited by the NAST to ensure that they are enrolled in a quality program that is nationally recognized.
Step 4: Continue Education
Due to the highly competitive nature of the film industry, many prospective directors seek additional education and training. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) offers an assistant director training program in which students receive hands-on training on the set of actual films. Graduates may become members of the DGA and are often hired as assistant directors on film productions, which may help launch a career as a movie director.
- Get paid while training. Aspiring directors can find a program that compensates trainees for the work they perform. Training programs, such as that offered through the DGA, pay trainees when they assist productions, and essentially the trainee is considered an employee of the production.
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