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A film director is someone who is in charge of making sure that every component of a movie runs smoothly. Generally, these directors work on a movie from its conception stage to its delivery stage. They have a say in how the scenes unfold, what props are going to be used, how the characters should look, and who should play specific parts. Directors also work with individuals in charge of lighting, scenery, writing, and so forth, to make sure that all of the elements come together. The director is in charge of the three main phases, which are pre-production, production and post-production. Generally, he or she does not actually do the work for post-production, but is in charge of overseeing it.
Note the difference between a film director and a producer: A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects, and visualizes the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision. The producer initiates, coordinates, supervises and controls matters such as raising funding, hiring key personnel, and arranging for distributors.
In addition to having control over nearly every aspect of the movie, film directors also have a large role in technical aspects. They read over the script to make sure that it makes sense, and they decide where the actors are going to stand and how they will move. Directors also help the actors to truly understand the characters. They might explain the characters’ motivation for a particular action or their back-story. One of the goals of a director is to push the actors to do their best work.
Once the editing team gets to work, the film director has the final say as to how the shots look and how they should be blended together. The movie director can also decide that the crew needs to do another take of a particular scene or scenes. They also decide when one scene should fade into the next.
A film director also has the responsibility of handling most of the budgetary concerns of a film. He or she will have to figure out how to make the movie work on the allowable budget. This might involve hiring actors who will work for lower pay, asking family members or friends to help out with some of the behind-the-scenes work, or coming up with less expensive strategies for executing an idea.
There is often a lot of pressure in the work environment of a film director. Film directors need to make most of the decisions; therefore, the success of the movie depends on them. Furthermore, while film directors are working on a movie, they also need to be looking for their next movie. Many film directors have to hop from one job to the next.
The entire production process of a film can take over a year. When the movie is in the production phase, the director is very busy. When the movie is in post-production and the director just has to oversee things, there may be a bit more spare time.
When on a job, a film director’s schedule can vary considerably. For example, he or she might work for ten hours on Monday and then an entirely different set of hours on Tuesday. It is not rare for a film director to work on weekends, evenings and holidays.
Film directors are not required to have a college degree; however, the extra training and experience can make it easier to find a good job. Both bachelor degree and graduate degree programs are available in this field. The New York Film Academy, with master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees as well as a conservatory program, is a highly regarded program. Other programs with strong reputations include the American Film Institute, University of Southern California and the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. While students can earn a degree specifically in this field, many film directors also have degrees in writing, journalism or another branch of communications.
Experience is an important component. Film directors have usually spent several years in a related field such as acting, writing or supervising scripts before they move on to directing.
You may think film directors are rolling in cash and, in certain cases, you wouldn't be wrong. The truth, however, is that most directors make a more modest living.
Generally, one individual is responsible for overseeing the labor that is relevant to a single facet of production, whether it be cinematography, writing, editing, music, sound, production design, or costumes. With the notable exception of the producer, however, the range of the director's tasks is quite broad, and involves coordinating innumerable creative activities throughout the course of developing, shooting, completing, and marketing a film.
Much more goes into directing a film than telling (or showing) actors what to do. The film does not consist of performances alone, and performance itself is more complex than this characterization implies.
A day in the life of a freelance film director.
Simon West is multilingual in the way directors must be. He recently spoke with Fortune about what it takes to manage the many moving parts of a big picture. After over a decade in the business, West says, he's finally starting to have some fun.
A good director makes sure that all parts of a film are creatively produced and brought together in a single totality. A director interprets the script, coaches the performers, works together with the montagiste, etc., interrelating them all to create a work of art.
This topic has been clouded by wishful thinking and pernicious misinformation for too long. Time to clean up!
John Dowdle has what many men who consider the dream job. I have to say that while I’ve enjoyed all the entries in this series, John’s is one of my favorites, because after all, who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to make some movie magic?