What is a Filmmaker?

Also known as: Moviemaker, Independent Filmmaker.

A filmmaker, or film director, is someone who is in charge of making, leading, and developing movie productions. It is a career that allows an individual to use their leadership as well as creative thinking skills to lead and direct major motion pictures or made-for-television films.

A filmmaker spends very long hours making sure the film is being shot in a way that will provide entertainment for the audience and will highlight the actors and actresses' strengths. They will see each film through, from where the film is shot, to how the script will be played out, to what actors and actresses best fit the roles of the characters. The filmmaker also manages the financial end of the production.

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What does a Filmmaker do?

A filmmaker is in charge of deciding what aspects of an actor or actresses' portrayal of the scene need to be altered from the script. They provide the creative flair and edge that sets the movie apart. Giving directions to the actors and actresses is very important because often, the filmmaker is responsible for the tone that the movie takes.

Not only is the film director in charge of the actors and actresses, he/she also plays a role in the technical direction of the movie. Filmmakers work with the behind-the-scenes lighting and filming crew to ensure that the shots taken are of the highest quality and provide the most dramatic backdrop.

Being able to lead a large group of actors and actresses, as well as background staff, is definitely a very challenging aspect of the job. There is a huge amount of responsibility and stress placed on the filmmaker to make the production successful.

How to become a Filmmaker

Aspiring filmmakers should begin by independently watching movies, reading film history books, reading websites and blogs on the film industry and top filmmakers, attending film festivals, etc. Even at the high school level, courses in drama, english and photography would be helpful.

Many filmmakers start out as actors themselves, in order to understand various directing techniques and styles from the receiving end. Someone who has a background in acting would be prime for attending a filmmaking program. In fact, many individuals who go on to take post graduate degree classes in either television or filmmaking generally have an undergraduate degree in a field relating to theatre.

There are many film or multimedia programs offered at colleges and universities. Narrative techniques, sound, lighting, cinematography, editing and computer-generated imaging is learned. As well, reading and writing scripts while enrolled in screenwriting classes teaches the aspiring filmmaker about movie pacing and formatting. Different movie genres such as science fiction, horror, and fantasy are studied. Valuable contacts in the industry and opportunities for internships can be made while enrolled in school.

Qualities that filmmakers should have are a passion for film, leadership, decisiveness, confidence, and organization.

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Further Reading

  • How To Succeed As An Independent Filmmaker

    Sheri Candler is the Director of Digital Marketing Strategy for The Film Collaborative and an independent consultant.

  • 10 Tips For Young Filmmakers

    This article was published in the magazine for the 2009 Fresh Film Festival.

  • Five Young Storytellers You Have To Know

    Film is everywhere today: companies fund them, Facebook users share them and PR firms rely on them. In this post, we celebrate five young storytellers that understand and harness the possibility of good film.

  • So You Wanna Be A Film Maker?

    Blaze your own trails as a filmmaker. You don't have to go the traditional "Hollywood" route to make a living at this craft.

  • 3 Ways - How To Become A Filmmaker

    Many would-be filmmakers do not realize there is more than one way to become a filmmaker. Here are 3 ways how to become a filmmaker.

  • “Should I Go To Film School?”

    I have a lot of respect for higher education and I myself had the privilege of attending a wonderful University, but not every area of human endeavour lends itself to being taught in classrooms.

  • Shane Meadows: How To Be A Filmmaker

    Want to make movies and short films? Acclaimed director Shane Meadows shares his advice for how to get started.

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