Becoming a movie director can be thrilling, artistic, and financially lucrative. However, it’s an extremely hard industry to break into. If you can endure no pay and plenty of frustration at the beginning of your directing career, you just may end up an appreciated and award-winning movie director.

A movie director must have a vision for every detail of a film. This includes everything from auditioning actors to rehearsals, sets, camera angles, music, special effects, costumes, crew supervision, and much more. Tight schedules, deadlines, budgeting, and even the occasional attitude or tantrum of a high-strung actor are all pressures a director faces. If this still sounds like a dream to you, then you just may be the next hot director to hit the scene.

Typically, there are two ways to become a movie director: conventional and unconventional.

The Conventional Way

The conventional process of getting into directing movies is to go to college and major in filmmaking.

You will find many great film schools in the movie hot spots of New York and Los Angeles. The easiest way to make contacts within the industry is to simply go to school in New York or Los Angeles so you are close to the action.

Consider interning (no pay) or getting hired as an assistant producer on a movie or television show. Even working on a documentary will help further your film directing career. You won’t get to direct, but you will make more contacts, gain experience, and continue to learn. You’ll deal with background talent and extras, feeding the cast and crew, making schedules, and maybe even get the opportunity to use some movie-making equipment every now and then. (Who knows, you might even get someone to look at the students films you’ve made in film school.)

As you finish film school, keep working on your craft while gaining experience and promoting your own directing clips and ideas to your new contacts in the industry. Start with directing small films, such as music videos and commercials to build a name for yourself before jumping into directing movies.

Join the film director’s associations for which you are eligible. This is an important step in mainstream film directing!

The Unconventional Route

  1. Find creative ways to raise the funds to produce your own independent film. It can be a full-length movie or a short film you write yourself or collaborate on with a writer. It is possible to digitally film the right screenplay successfully on a low budget. Simply enter your film into every film festival you can find and hopefully you’ll be “discovered.”
  2. Build a successful acting career first, and then move from actor to director. Your “star” actor name may even get you some directing work from the major studios and production companies.

Whichever way you become a movie director, always develop your own style. Don’t copy other famous directors. Be unique in your style to make a name for yourself. Who knows, you may just be the next big thing in movie making!