What Is The Job Of A Film Director?

2nd June 2022

What Is The Job Of A Film Director?
Georgia Carter

Georgia Carter

Have you always wanted to break into the film industry by directing films but don’t quite know how to get there? We will tell you all the necessary info, like what is a film movie director and what does their job entail? How much do they earn and what you need to do to become one. So stay tuned to find out more. 

Job Description Of Film Director 

So what does a film director do you ask? Well they are the creative influence of the project and have a say in casting, locations etc., and lead the creative vision for the entire production, from start to finish. Directors work very closely with the producers, cast and crew to achieve this, right from the start at pre-production until the editing process in post-production. 

Working with Producers & Screenwriter

They will be hired by an executive producer and start by looking at the film script. Working with a screenwriter is common – or this could ultimately be them as well in some cases.  Their job is to visualize how to take the script and make it into a film. 

Recruiting Crew

A film requires a budget, so once this is secured by the producers, then the director can then go ahead and recruit their crew, most importantly the DOP (Director of Photography), Assistant Director and Production Designer. These people collaborate at the early stages of the project with the director in order to ensure the main points of the story will be portrayed. 

Casting Directors

Directors work alongside Casting Directors, who help cast the actors needed for the film. It is the same in the case of television as well. Casting Directors need to know exactly what the director and producer require from them, so this is all set out in pre-production. This may be done by creating storyboards. 

Director Of Photography

Directors need to collaborate with the DOP, to assess issues such as camera shots and if there has been any changes to the script which would change how a scene would be shot. Each director will have their own individual filming style. For example, there are differences between any Quentin Tarentino film and that of Christopher Nolan.   

film director

1917 Case Study 

Depending on the director, there may be time to rehearse with the actors ahead of time, but this doesn’t usually happen until the day or maybe even the week of the shoot. There is a clear distinction between theater and film here. It is well known that for the film 1917, there was 6 months of rehearsal, even before any sets were built, as this was because of the nature of the shoot. Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins wanted to film as it was one continuous take. So every movement had to be rigorously rehearsed, hence it was as smooth as possible when shot. For if a mistake was made, then they had to start again.

Now for those who don’t know, of course they filmed a number of scenes which were then pieced together to make the one ‘continuous’ shot. In turn this fine tuned the actors blocking and camera movements. The sets were measured out in terms of length and size so that the action could take place without any breaks. The shortest unbroken shot was 39 seconds long, while the longest single continuous shot was 8 1/2 minutes long. 

Sam Mendes also wrote the film and it was based on his grandfather’s stories of the first world war – Lance Cpl. Schofield.  

Led by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, there was a critically acclaimed cast, which included Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden and Mark Strong. The film won awards such as Best Achievement in Cinematography (Oscars), Best Achievement in Visual Effects (Oscars), Best Director (BAFTAs), Best Film (BAFTAs). It was nominated for plenty more categories too across many award ceremonies. 

Liaising With Wardrobe, Lighting And Make-Up

Directors will liaise with costume, lighting and make-up supervisors, so the visual needs are met. Costume can transform a film and as I have written about this before, it can be vital to storytelling. They will work closely with the actors on set and this is where creativity can really come to life. It is the director’s job to truly engage with the actors so they have the best understanding of the story they are trying to tell.

Post Production

Once filming has finished, they ensure the editing of the film in post-production is done. The directors cut is the editing of both the audio and visual materials, which is then approved by the producers and finance team. This then can be distributed and screened at film festivals and then onto the public at cinemas internationally.  

What Skills Do You Need To Be A Director In A Movie? 

In terms of the role of a director in film, you need to possess all of these qualities – 

  • Leadership skills
  • Imagination 
  • Arts Knowledge
  • Being able to stay calm under pressure
  • An understanding of the production process, from start to finish

How To Become A Film Director 

You need to have a wealth of knowledge of the film industry and making connections and becoming well known will help you in a career as a film director. 

You could start out as a runner on set, and work in a production office. That is the best way to learn – on the job and then you can start to make your own contacts, who then you will hopefully work with again. Networking is key in this business. If you are liked and respected for your work, overtime, people will want to work with you more, especially actors and generally people in the industry so impressions count. 

Get to know your way around a camera and maybe even take a course as a camera trainee. 

Greatest Filmmakers Of All Time

  • Francis Ford Coppola 
  • Sofia Coppola
  • Kathryn Bigelow
  • Ava DuVernay
  • Jane Campion
  • Peter Jackson
  • Spike Lee
  • Chloé Zhao
  • Ingmar Bergman 
  • Greta Gerwig
  • Amma Asante
  • Autumn Wilde
  • Olivia Wilde
  • The Coen Brothers
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Christopher Nolan
  • Ridley Scott
  • Sam Mendes
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu

I could go on, but there would just be a never-ending list, so I will stop there. I will write another article maybe on famous directors and discuss in further detail what they have filmed over their careers. 

So there you have it, I have covered the basics of film directors and how to become one. If you enjoyed this article and think that you would want to know more about other jobs on set, maybe read the article about being a costume designer or casting director to learn more. 

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