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Land a Job in Film -- Be a Director

Updated on November 27, 2017
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna worked on many productions as PA, Craft Services, Talent Scout, Grip, and Producer. Credits include Bowling for Columbine, Wallace.



Directors are the individuals who "translate" the script from the written page into film. A conventional director supervises hundreds of people at a time, from scriptwriters to costume and set designers. Directors are in charge of all technical and artistic aspects of the film. They conduct auditions, supervise rehearsals and approve location, scenery, costumes, choreography, and music. In short, they direct the entire cast and crew during shooting. They frequently have several assistant directors helping them with such details as handling extras, transportation of equipment, and arrangements for food and accommodations.

The job of director is not an entry-level position. Usually, individuals start in another phase of filmmaking and then take advantage of the opportunities, and then advance to directing jobs.

Music videos can also provide experience for budding directors.

Successful directors are involved in all three phases of production, from beginning to end. Some directors assume multiple roles, such as director-producer or writer-producer-director. Whatever other roles they take on, as directors they must know how to hire the right people, and how to fire the wrong people, and how to handle people so that they work as an effective team. They often must combine the skills of an artist, administrator, salesperson, diplomat, and best friend.

Kazan Speaks About Being a Director

In the autumn of 1973, Elia Kazan, director of such classic films as "Gentleman's Agreement", "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "On the Waterfront", was honored by a two-week retrospective of his films at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. At the conclusion of the program, Mr. Kazan gave this timeless talk to students. This is what he said about the role of a director

"What kind of person must a film director train himself to be? What qualities does he need?" he asked. Here are a few: A construction gang foreman, who knows his physical problems and their solutions and is ready, therefore, to insist on these solutions...A hypnotist, who works with the unconscious to achieve his ends. A poet, a poet of the camera, able both to capture the decisive moment of Cartier-Bresson (Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French humanist photographer known as the master of candid photography, early user of 35 mm film) or to wait all day like Paul Strand for a single shot, which he makes with a bulky camera fixed on a tripod. An outfielder, for his legs -- the director, stands much of the day, dares not get tired, so he has strong legs. Think back and remember how the old time directors dramatized themselves -- by puttees, right?

Reginald "Reggie" Alan Hudlin is a prolific American writer, director, and producer who has worked in both TV and in the movies.

What Do You Think?

Would you become an actor like Eastwood and Kazan to become a director?

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The Mountain Between Us - Hany Abu-Assad - Director

"He also needs to be cunning of a trader in Baghdad bazaar -- the firmness of an animal trainer --obvious tigers! A great host -- At a sign from him fine food and heartwarming drink appear. The kindness of an old-fashioned mother who forgives all -- the authority and sternness of her husband, the father, who forgives nothing, expects obedience without question, brooks no nonsense -- these alternatively. The elusiveness of a jewel thief - no explanation -- takes my word for this one. The blarney of a PR man, especially useful when the director is out in a strange and hostile location as I have many times been. A very thick skin -- a very sensitive soul – simultaneously -- the patience, the persistence, the fortitude of a saint, the appreciation of pain, a taste for self-sacrifice, everything for the cause -- cheeriness, jokes, playfulness, alternating with sternness, unwavering firmness. Pure doggedness -- an unwavering refusal to take less than he thinks right out of a scene, a performer, a co-worker, a member of his staff, himself."

Being a Director

Being a director is a huge responsibility because the crew, cast, producers, and audience are counting on you delivering a piece of art that is professionally done. A director's heart beats throughout the production from pre-production, production, and post-production. He is the drive that makes the film a believable and understandable story.

So, if you are thinking about becoming a director, you need to have an open heart. You need to care about people in general. Then, you know you can care about your crew and actors. Otherwise, reconsider your desire or quest because a director is a people person as well as a technical whiz-bang.

Good luck with your career and let me know about all your successes.

The Man Who Invented Christmas interview with Director and Dan Stevens

© 2007 Kenna McHugh


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