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How to Become a Strong and Amazing Director

I wrote and contributed to books on film and worked in the modeling and film industries. I like to share insights into both businesses.

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Film Director Basics

Directors are the individuals who "translate" the script from the written page into a film. A conventional director supervises hundreds of people at a time, from scriptwriters to costume and set designers. Directors are in charge of all technical and artistic aspects of the film. They conduct auditions, supervise rehearsals and approve location, scenery, costumes, choreography, and music. In short, they direct the entire cast and crew during shooting. They frequently have several assistant directors helping them with such details as handling extras, transportation of equipment, and arrangements for food and accommodations.

The job of the director is not an entry-level position. Usually, individuals start in another phase of filmmaking and then take advantage of the opportunities, and then advance to directing jobs.

Music videos provide experience for budding directors. Directors who got their start directing music videos include David Fincher, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, Michael Bay, and Marc Webb.

Successful directors are involved in all three phases of production, from beginning to end. Some directors assume multiple roles, such as director-producer or writer-producer-director.

Whatever other roles they take on, as directors, they must know how to hire the right people, and how to fire the wrong people, and how to handle people, so the crew works as a dedicated team.

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Kazan Speaks About Being a Director

In the autumn of 1973, Elia Kazan, director of such classic films as Gentleman's Agreement, A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront, was honored by a two-week retrospective of his films at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. After the program, Mr. Kazan gave this timeless talk to students. It is what he said about the role of a director.

"What kind of person must a film director train himself to be? What qualities does he need?" he asked. Here are a few: A construction gang foreman, who knows his physical problems and their solutions and is ready, therefore, to insist on these solutions...A hypnotist who works with the unconscious to achieve his ends. A poet, a poet of the camera, able both to capture the decisive moment of Cartier-Bresson (Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French humanist photographer known as the master of candid photography, an early user of 35 mm film) or to wait all day like Paul Strand for a single shot, which he makes with a bulky camera fixed on a tripod. An outfielder, for his legs -- the director, stands much of the day, dares not get tired, so he has strong legs. Think back and remember how the old-time directors dramatized themselves -- by puttees, right?"

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Patience is a Virtue

Kazan continues with his talk, "He also needs to be cunning of a trader in Baghdad bazaar -- the firmness of an animal trainer --obvious tigers! A great host -- At a sign from him, fine food and heartwarming drink appear. The kindness of an old-fashioned mother who forgives all -- the authority and sternness of her husband, the father, who forgives nothing, expects obedience without question, brooks no nonsense -- these alternatively. The elusiveness of a jewel thief - no explanation -- takes my word for this one. The blarney of a PR man, especially useful when the director is out in a strange and hostile location as I have many times been. A very thick skin -- a very sensitive soul – simultaneously -- the patience, the persistence, the fortitude of a saint, the appreciation of pain, a taste for self-sacrifice, everything for the cause -- cheeriness, jokes, playfulness, alternating with sternness, unwavering firmness. Pure doggedness -- an unwavering refusal to take less than he thinks right out of a scene, a performer, a co-worker, a member of his staff, himself."

Reginald "Reggie" Alan Hudlin is a prolific American writer, director, and producer who has worked in both TV and in the movies.

What Do You Think?

The Mountain Between Us - Hany Abu-Assad - Director

Film Director Salary

The film director's salary varies according to the Directors Guild of America, such as the standards upon the director's talent and success at the box office. Directors shooting a high-budget movie at $11 million or more earn minimally $19,143. Working a week on a short film or documentary, directors earn $13,672.

If a movie production takes longer than a week, directors shooting high-budget productions earned $4,786 a day. Short film or documentary, they earn $3,418 a day. Directors working in the industry earn, on average, an annual wage of $111,320.

Directors successful at the box office earn anywhere from $1 million to $75 million per movie.

"The Man Who Invented Christmas" interview with Director and Dan Stevens

Drives the Production

Being a director is a huge responsibility because the crew, cast, producers, and audience are counting on you, delivering a piece of professional art.

A director beats his heart and soul throughout the production from pre-production, production, and post-production. He is the drive that makes the film a believable and understandable story. He is the drive that makes the film a credible and coherent narrative.

So, if you are thinking about becoming a director, you need to have an open heart. You need to care about people in general. Then, you know you can care about your crew and actors. Otherwise, reconsider your desire or quest because a director is a people person as well as a technical whiz-bang.

Good luck with your career, and let me know about all your successes.

© 2007 Kenna McHugh

Comments

Zia Uddin from UK on December 16, 2018:

I see

Kenna McHugh (author) from Northern California on December 16, 2018:

I directed a few plays, commercials, and cable shows. It is a fun process where one has complete control...as long as everyone does what I ask of them. : )

Zia Uddin from UK on December 15, 2018:

Hmm, quite interesting things about directors and the role they play in film making.