Cinematic history is chock-full of iconic film directors, with Total Film Magazine ranking Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg amongst the best ever practitioners of this art-form.
Given the world-renowned nature of such names, it should come as no surprise that becoming a film director remains a highly glamorous and aspirational career path for people across the globe.
In this piece, we’ll look at the precise role of a film director, while asking what qualifications and experience are required to fulfil such a role.
What Does a Film Director Do?
In simple terms, directors serve as the creative leads within a film, maintaining an overall vision for the production process from initial conception to the final edit.
Typically, a director will be employed by an executive producer, who assumes overall control of the film’s production. Starting with a script, directors will also work closely alongside a skilled screenwriter or editing team, in a bid to maintain close creative control and implement a more holistic vision.
This is an interesting observation, as one of the main jobs of a director is to imagine or replicate the script in visual form.
This will also involve liaising with a director of photography and assistant director, while working closely with casting agents to select the actors who will bring your vision to life.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Film Director?
Interestingly, there are no formal qualifications required to become a film director, which is why many of the most successful practitioners have emerged from various walks of life.
However, there are certain characteristics that a successful director will need to have, including keen attention to detail and outstanding communication skills.
The latter is particularly important, as they’ll need to clearly communicate their ideas to colleagues while also convincing producers and financiers that they’re somebody who’s worth supporting.
Experience working in the industry is also crucial, which is why so many directors have made an extended transition from being actors.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Film Director in the UK?
Because there are no formal qualifications required to become a director, this process is variable in terms of the length of time that it takes.
This can vary wildly too, particularly as there’s also no need for any kind of entry test or the requirement to hold a professional membership or union card.
Ultimately, the best route into direction will require you to gain a foothold in the movie industry while demonstrating some of the aforementioned skills and attributes, while also developing a network of contacts and a reputation for producing consistently good output.
Of course, those who have worked as prominent actors can enjoy a fast-track route to becoming a director, thanks to their knowledge, experience and the fact that they’ll already be well-connected in the sector.
What are the Different Types of Film Directors?
Obviously, not all directors have been created equal, and there are many different styles and approaches adopted by those who work within the industry. We’ve broken down three of the main director types below:
The Technical Director: This type of director will work closely with the crew on the technical aspects of each shot and scene, while only giving very little time giving direction to actors. As a result, they will try to control the scene and its presentation while affording actors creative license to perform freely.
The Performance Director: Conversely, a performance director will work with and understand their actors and the processes that they use while shooting. Sure, they’ll still spend time focusing on the technical aspects of each scene, but their main focus will be helping actors to successfully convey the emotion and meaning behind each shot.
The New Director: This term may refer to a director who’s relatively inexperienced. This type of director will have some knowledge of the industry and the director role, while they may have previously worked as producers, writers, actors or editors. You’ll typically find new directors working on independent films or low-budget offerings.
So, How Much Can I Earn as a Film Director?
As you can imagine, the average salary of a film director boasts a relatively broad range, with the annual wage that you’re able to command dependent on factors such as your experience, background and past performance.
If you’re a new director working as part of a well-financed production, you can expect to earn between £250,000 and £500,000 per film. At the other end of the spectrum, studio film directors can bank around $1 million per movie, while the very best in the business can earn £2 million per film and upwards.
Of course, startup directors working on truly independent films may not command a salary at all, primarily because these vehicles often lack an official source of funding.