Job Description

Directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Ability to tell stories
  • Great pay
The Inside Scoop
Day in the Life

When shooting a television episode:

  • Arrive before 7am
  • Answer last minute questions about what the team will shoot that day
  • Conduct private, short rehearsal with actors for the first scene
  • Show the scene to the crew
  • Get marks on every position where the actors stand
  • Talk to the DP about how the scene will be shot
  • Watch a camera rehearsal with the stand-ins
  • Conduct a camera rehearsal with the actors
  • Shoot the scene
  • Move onto the next scene
  • WIll shoot on average 5-7 scenes per day
Skills Needed
  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Leadership skills
  • Time management skills
Different Types of Organizations
  • TV and motion picture studios
  • TV networks
  • Independent Productions
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • Irregular and long work schedules
  • Working more than 40 hours a week
  • Travelling away from home
Current Industry Trends
  • Increase in the amount of product for viewing
  • More product is being watched on the internet
  • “Binge watching” is growing
  • Decline and refocusing of micro-budget filmmaking
  • Split between big cinema v. specialized cinema
  • Realignment of release windows
  • Increased demand for female-focused films
  • An ageing film audience
  • Employment shift towards post-production jobs
What kind of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…
  • Acting
  • Making films
2016 Employment
2026 Projected Employment
Education and Training Needed
  • Most directors need a bachelor’s degree in film, cinema studies, or a similar field. Many complete master’s degrees, too
  • Independent directors of small films have no formal educational requirements, but many also hold college degrees or attended formal training
  • Film schools such as New York Film Academy offer short programs as well as full degree programs (see our list of Resources > Film Schools)
  • Additional ad hoc certifications such as the New School’s Documentary Media Studies Certificate can bolster your credentials 
  • Directing requires a slew of people and project management skills, so consider taking courses in communications, leadership, team building, conflict resolution, and project management 
  • Most film studio directors have years of experience working on sets in assistant director or other roles. Many get their start through studio internships
  • The Directors Guild of America offers a highly competitive Assistant Director trainee program 
  • Directors may also need training on various health and safety issues, as well as state, local, federal, international, and studio policies regarding filming and human resources
Things to do during high school/college
  • Make short movies and web series
  • Intern
  • Participate in film projects with fellow students
Some Reputable Film Schools
  • American Film Institute
  • Boston University College of Communication 
  • Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
  • Columbia University School of the Arts
  • Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts 
  • Full Sail University
  • LA Film School 
  • Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television
  • Motion Picture Institute of Michigan 
  • New York Film Academy
  • NYU/Tisch School of the Arts 
  • San Diego State University School of Theater, Television and Film
  • Seattle Film Institute 
  • UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
  • UCLA Extension - Entertainment Studies
  • USC School of Cinematic Arts 
  • University of New Orleans Film and Theatre
  • University of Texas at Austin Department of Radio-Television-Film 
Things to do in High School and College
  • Stock up on courses in art, English, communication, speaking, psychology, design, and photography
  • Volunteer for school activities where you can learn how to work effectively as a team, practice leadership skills, and manage large projects 
  • Consider signing up for confidence and resiliency courses, so you’ll be able to direct teams and actors even under stressful circumstances 
  • Join audiovisual clubs to get hands-on experience
  • Participate in school and local theater productions 
  • Start making your short films for YouTube or Vimeo. Look for friends and community members who want to join your projects!
  • Borrow or rent video cameras, sound gear, and lighting equipment as you save up to buy your own kit
  • Get familiar with video editing techniques and software, plus special effects software 
  • Advertise your freelance filmmaking services in the local area or online 
  • Launch an online portfolio to showcase your skills and work
  • Apply for film internships until you land one!
  • Study books, articles, and video tutorials (see our list of Resources > Websites)
  • Attend film festivals and film school open events
  • Check out Keanu Reeves’ documentary Side by Side, featuring interviews with some of the biggest directors in Hollywood
  • Join professional organizations to learn about trends and grow your network 
Typical Roadmap
TV Director roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  • Move to where the most movie and TV jobs are! Per BLS, the states with the highest employment for these jobs are California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Georgia
  • Work with actors and Direct plays
  • Many Directors start as production assistants or interns. Even these are coveted positions, so contact your state film commission learn about to upcoming opportunities 
  • Build your reputation and ensure your work is seen! Enter film festivals, promote your work on social media, and get published in industry journals or on popular websites 
  • Check out film job sites and forums as well as job portals such as Indeed, Simply Hired, and Glassdoor
    Ask your professors, supervisors, and peers if they’ll serve as personal references 
  • Once you have a reel, apply to television director development programs
Recommended Resources


  • Action-Cut-Print 
  • Adorama 
  • Art of the Guillotine 
  • Association of Film Commissioners International 
  • Awardeo 
  • AWN 
  • B&H Photo, Video, and Pro Audio 
  • Casting Networks 
  • CheesyCam
  • Cinephilia and Beyond 
  • Corridor Digital 
  • D4Darious 
  • Detonation Films 
  • Directors Guild of America
  • Done Deal Professional
  • DVcreators 
  • DVXuser 
  • Filmmaker IQ 
  • Filmmaker Magazine 
  • Filmmakers Alliance 
  • Film Riot
  • Film School Rejects
  • Filmspotting
  • FX Guide 
  • Go Into the Story 
  • Google Art & Culture 
  • Greenlight My Movie 
  • Hollywood OmniBook
  • IMDb 
  • Indie Film Hustle 
  • IndieTalk 
  • IndieWire 
  • InkTip 
  • International Cinematographers Guild Magazine
  • John August 
  • Making Of 
  • Maltin on Movies 
  • MovieMaker Magazine
  • National Association of Schools of Theatre
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Noam Kroll 
  • No Film School 
  • Philip Bloom 
  • Post Magazine 
  • ProductionHUB 
  • ProVideo Coalition 
  • REDUser 
  • SAGindie
  • Script Magazine
  • Shanks FX 
  • Shooting People 
  • Staff Me Up 
  • Stage 32 
  • Student Filmmakers
  • Studio Daily 
  • The American Society of Cinematographers 
  • The Film Collaborative
  • The Gotham 
  • The Production Booth 
  • Twitch 
  • VFX Soldier
  • Video Copilot 
  • Videomaker 
  • Videvo 
  • Vincent Laforet
  • Visual Effects Society
  • WIRED - Design FX
  • ZapSplat


Words of Advice

”Directors direct! If you have an iPhone and a computer, you have the first tools you need to make a short film.....”


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Source: Interviews, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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