How To Become a Director

Have you ever wondered how to become a director?

You’re not alone. It’s an ongoing joke out here in LA that “all I want to do is direct.”

As a filmmaker, bringing your vision to life and sharing your story with the world is one of the primary reasons you make movies. Add the fact that making movies is a lot of fun.

How To Become A Director

How To Become A Director

The sexy appeal and ability to share your vision with the world should be enough to motivate anybody to get their movies made. And yet very few would-be filmmakers will ever make and direct a movie. Why is that?

While I cannot speak for everybody, I can tell you the most people who want to know how to become a director are simply afraid that their movie will suck.

We can attribute all this to fear. So instead of actually producing a movie, these fearful filmmakers decide instead to produce a list of excuses that goes something like this:

Top 10 Excuses Why You Won’t Become a Director

  1. I don’t have enough money.
  2. There is no talent where I live.
  3. We don’t have a camera (or lights, locations, insurance, et al.)
  4. Nobody cares about our movies unless we live in Hollywood.
  5. My movie is not a real movie unless it has name actors.
  6. I don’t want to make a short. I am waiting to make my feature.
  7. Maybe next year. I’m busy with my day job.
  8. I am too old to direct a movie.
  9. I am too young to direct a movie.
  10. I don’t know how to become a director.

If you want to know how to become a director, the first thing you need to do is recognize that you are making excuses. If you’ve never directed a movie before, the odds are very good that your movie will suck… And even if it doesn’t suck this year, I guarantee that you will look back years later and know your movie sucked.

Don’t believe me? Check out one of my first short films. (It’s the YouTube video below.)

Do you see what I mean? We shot that movie on 16mm film. Film!

And YES. I KNOW!  It’s a steaming pile of pretentious dog poo…

But… Working on that movie helped me meet other creative types, including one of my good friends, Jared. Him and I have worked together on several shorts and a few features.

So my point is this. If you want to know how to become a director, you need to really pick up a camera and direct something. Even if it’s a short movie. Even if the movie is only one minute…

Doing this is something. And having something, is better than nothing.

What You Need To Know

The truth is, people will never hire you to be a director unless you have already directed something.

Nobody cares about your vision or ideas. These people want proof that you can actually make something. And the only way you can give them proof is by answering this question:

“Given the resources that I have right now, what is the movie that I can make this year?”

Once you conjure the courage to answer this question, great things will start to happen for you. You will be forced to abandon all self limiting beliefs. They you will grab a camera, find some actor friends and make your movie now!

how to become a director courseIf you produce a short film, you will put it on YouTube and share your work with the world. If you produce a feature, then you will figure out how to market and sell your movie. But you will not make excuses.

Figuring out how to become  a director involves, directing. You will need to take action and actually directing something. You will need to build off each project and “level up” your career.

If you’re seeking the next steps, you might benefit from Peter Marshall’s course on how to become a director. In it you’ll get tips to help you take the next steps. And his real world experience may help you finally figure out how to become a director.

Comments

  1. Christopher says

    Direct Plays!!! seriously, I’m not sure why no one mentions this, but the best education for being a director I’ve had is working with the local amateur theatre. Although it is amateur in name, the level of professionalism that the actors and back stage crew bring will school any novice film director in how to work with actors to construct a scene. So many new film directors I meet have zero clue in how to converse with actors and this is the best way I know to begin to understand their mindset. Plus you will have access to a company of actors who take their craft seriously. It worked for Ingmar Bergman. Take a page out of his playbook; direct a one act play and you’ll be streets head of the rest of the directing pack.

  2. Cecilia says

    Every point is valid, but we are not mentioning what I believe is the starting point of every career; study and learn by doing so I do not necessarily mean a traditional school career but the bountiful resources available now on line or printed materials. I don’t agree that you have to move to LA to be in the Industry and hopefully as more and more independant producers create around the world we will be able to decentralize the myth. Then you have to have a plan and this includes to generate the income that will allow you to pursue your dream. Then it comes the hard part, write, plan, budget, create, dream, be passionate, ignore the butterflies in the stomach and the inner voice telling you “what are you doing idiot? and just keep going, when down read Jason B and keep going, after all the difference is that if you do it, you won’t die with the music inside you.

  3. Tory - Kids Spooky Move, Finding Grandpa's Gold. says

    Hello Jason,

    Well OK, your point is well taken, however there are way to become a bit more knowledgeable. Go get a job on a film, make friends and learn film making from the bottom up. This of course will at least teach you the technical aspects of film making. Now the hard part, talent, artistic vision, the art of story telling with a camera and then comes writing.

    I know you all want an instant answer, instant artistic skill and the art of craft because this is the now generation and you want it all now. You want the truth, I’ll give you the truth, but you can’t handle the truth. Take your passion, put it in a bag, move to Hollywood and get a job on a film just like Jason did and learn the ropes. Within a short period of time, we’ll find you on some movie set and you’ll be on you way! No one can do it for you! Now pack you bags and show us your passion.

    Film Director- Tory Von Wolfe

  4. Simon King says

    In the past I have produced/directed several commercials. Loads of equipment, people, lights, etc. Looking back the results were dull. The same projects could now be done for a TINY fraction of the original budget in less time with fewer people and better results! If you don’t have a camera… use your cell phone! Shoot SOMETHING! Then review your work and get ready to move up to a cheap camera and shoot SOMETHING. Review that work and then rent a better (Canon 5D, etc.) camera and find better qualified talent and crew by showing them what you have done previously. The whole process is exactly like a ladder: you cannot step on the top rungs (multi-million $ studio film) without treading the lower rungs first.

  5. Bertzie says

    How to become a director in one easy step.

    Step One: Direct something.

    Congratulations! You are now a director.

  6. Froud Khodaifar says

    I agree with you Jason,I live in Iran. And making my first future film. And there is nothing to it. Just get up and do it. There is since I do it : there is more resourses and people which help me do the actuall work. I thank you for your work and writings Jason. It helps me be more directive and productive.Thanks again. May you succed in your work.

  7. varun says

    I am not a director but director should have minimum knowledge. He should have more imaginative power.

  8. dean says

    I live in the small city “Bengkulu” in Indonesia. I can’t agree more with what you’ve written above.

    But I’ve only a t2i 550d, and I really wanna make a movie. Can’t you give your email? There’s many questions I wanna ask about filmmaking.

    It’s my desire to make a movie or become a director, but the classical problem is budget. How do you manage about planning when you shoot a video but you don’t have any dolly, steadycam, crane or anything? Can you help me?

  9. says

    I think this article should have been titled differently. Like 10 myths that hold you back from being a director. IMO money is really the biggest, and credit can be an option if really necessary.

    In working on funding my film through crowd sourcing the amount of money received was low.

    This can be due to a number of things, I tried funding for over 4 years. Just for a short. It came down to having to put this on credit to get my baby done for my degree. Barely anyone works for free and when they do a lot of the time they have the upper hand. I didn’t have enough to afford a production manager or assistant director and no one from any ads I posted for free help ever followed through.

    It was very disappointing. But with the resources I had and yes I did have to fork out for production insurance and workers comp.

    If you want to work with any kids legally in California you have to have that and it’s not free. So you can’t expect to direct kiss movies unless you have worked with kids before and developing that reel can be costly or you can risk being caught by enforcement. That’s your call.

    All the while I’m happy that my film is in the can so to speak and feel that my directing had been compromised due to wearing so many hats during the production. Which is no bueno, but you have to work with what you have and still try your best. I would really appreciate a post on how to become a paid director for those who have films and projects under there belt.

    My advice to others save as much as possible if you want to make a film that’s your vision. If you want to just build a reel on a budget, work with adults and use friends houses for locations of other low cost options that don’t require insurance.

    Thanks!

  10. says

    Scott –

    My suggestion is to get a job so that you can survive and pay your bills. Then get some money in the bank. Once you get these things checked off the list, you can focus on screenwriting.

  11. says

    I have an MA in cinema and I live in a homeless shelter because I keep running into walls trying to get my scripts made and in trying to get any other kind of work.

  12. says

    I am making every story I have! Three shorts in the last 3 months and working on another! You are right! If you have never directed anything, you won’t direct anything! Into the fray I say, make everything a movie!

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