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How To Become A Film Director

Here Are The Steps To Becoming a Film Director

This article will lay out the steps to becoming a film director, by featuring the advice from film directors who have already made the journey.

Director Sam Raimi's Advice 

Make a movie every week in super 8 or high def. Write every night. Every weekend shoot for two days. Work with actors. The next weekend work with sound. Get a response from the audience and understand where it doesn't work. Go out and make another picture. Make films and no matter what anybody says, you'll become a film maker.

Director Martin Scorsese's Advice 

Make your own industry, do your own thing. You want the work to be seen. You can make a film on a camera the size of that doorknob. Break open the form. 

Director Sir Ridley Scott's Advice 

"I didn't know how to become a director, there was no film school."

Big tip: Get your foot in the door. Scott started as a set designer and got his break at BBC, and the rest is history.

Producer & Actor Brian Harrington's Advice 

1. Have the resolve to make this a full time pursuit and get ready for rejection - This doesn't mean you can't have a cash flow job while you're starting out, it just means, climbing the slippery slope of any entertainment endeavor requires a daily checking in with yourself to see where am I and what is the next step.

2. Just do it - Seriously, you're not an "aspiring" director. You are a director. It's not "just" a short film. It's a short film. Start with any and all gigs you can get your hands on and start directing. No school is not necessary. Work and experience is necessary.

3. Put everything you have on a website, it doesn't matter if it's good. Just put all of it in a youtube playlist and embed it on a website. Then as you get better and get cooler gigs, drop the old ones off and continually make the site better.

4. Network - Go to everything and say yes to everything. Then once you've said yes to everything and have too many people calling you. Start saying no to everything and pick the best things to work on.

5. Repeat steps 1-4

Bio: Brian Harrington is an Actor/Producer/Sales Agent. Visit his IMDB page here.

Director Hyapatia Lee's Advice 

"There are as many ways to become a film director as there are to scale a mountain. Lighting, cinematography, and editing are all essential information and a director must have a good working knowledge of these fields before ever getting to a set. Script writing is also paramount as there is no sense shooting something that no one wants to see, but you have to know what actually can be filmed before putting ideas on paper. A good director knows that there are three steps to filmmaking: Pre-production, Production, and Post-production. Of all of these, pre-production is by far the most important and time-consuming. If you skip steps in pre-production, it will cost you money down the line. No Film School, YouTube, the local library, and "learning by doing" are all valuable resources.. has tutorials on lighting, editing software, and many other important aspects of filmmaking. There are far too many steps to becoming a film director to list them all here, but the resources I provided above can give people a start.

Take aways:

Must learn

  • lighting 
  • cinematography
  • editing
  • script writing
  • understand the three steps to filmmaking: pre-production, production, and post-production

Bio: Lee has an IMDb page that credits her with directing 2 films (she has written 10, produced 2, worked on the music for 1, and acted in 65) and she is currently in production on a TV series called Native Strength, which airs on channel 10 in Washington, DC and on ROKU channel OSI74. Episodes of Native Strength have been featured at the Peak Film Forum and Emerging Filmmakers Project film festivals in December of last year. It starts with determination. One cannot be afraid to delve into a variety of subjects that seem overwhelming.

Have any other tips for aspiring film directors on what path to take? Comment below. 


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