If you’re here, it’s likely you want to be the next celebrated filmmaker. And while no one is going to stop you from dreaming, there’s a huge gap between fact and fiction. So, how do you become a director? Let’s take a look at the cold hard truth.
Directors are hired on the strength of their reel.
If you don’t have a reel yet, you’re not a director and you should starting working on one. If your reel is awful then keep making and improving. Your reel represents what you’re capable of working on as well as your best features. This shouldn’t be a montage but something like your greatest hits.
You won’t land a great directing gig on the strength of your film degree.
Regardless of which prestigious film school you graduated from, it will still boil down to how good your reel is. This will decide if a producer hires you or not. Instead of spending all that money on film school, you can learn, experiment and improve in putting together a film reel that will blow your potential clients away.
You can either be independent or get hired by a producer.
These are the two general routes a director can take. If you get hired by a producer, it means they have a script, they hire the actors they want to use and they hire the director to direct the film – you.
If you go the independent route (which is where you’ll need to start anyway but have the option of moving out from) you essentially do everything. You secure the finances for the film and worry about the distribution. And even if you’re lucky enough to get it done, sometimes only a few people will ever see your film. That’s the truth. It’s not pretty but it’s reality.
During this time, your goal should be to do the work and create the best films possible. This will act as your reel and will in turn land you gigs if the films you make are good enough.
Bottom line is that becoming a director means having a good reel to show for what you can do. To make your dreams a reality, you have to realize projects won’t magically fall on your lap. You have to make it happen yourself and that means learning, experimenting, making mistakes and trying again, until you have a solid reel you can showcase.