How to Become a Film Director in 4 Simple Steps

What Is A Film Director?

A film director interprets the film’s script and translates it into a life production. A film director is a “builder” using the “blueprint”, which is the script, to build a “house”, or a movie. They are in charge of the movie cast and crew. They should have a creative mind but remain organized. Below we will analyze how to become a film director.

They work with the actors, lighting crew, shooting locations, and much more. Many different departments have to come together to create a blockbuster film. Different directors have different styles. Many times, the director can be identified by certain elements common in their films.

They are in charge of three phases of film production, pre-production, production, and post-production. A director will read the script and determine each character’s motivation. They will then convey this to the cast and crew to create a film that makes sense.

The director is also responsible for managing the film’s budget. They will determine the best ways to save money on a film.

Typical Duties of a Film Director:

  • Managing a film’s budget
  • Analyzing the script
  • Determine what shots work best for the final project in editing
  • Push actors to deliver their best work
  • Be on the lookout for the next project

Work Environment

Directors often work under tight deadlines and high pressure. They have to work with many different personalities, some of them difficult. Few, if any, directors work a set schedule. They may work 10 hours in one day. They also work evenings, weekends, and holidays.

The majority of film directors are male, though more females are entering the profession.


To be a good director, a film director should have:

  • Creativity
  • Analytical Skills
  • Business Skills
  • Diplomacy
  • Financial Sense

What Is A Film Director?

Becoming a Film Director

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses for Film Director

It’s never too early to start your studies as a film director. To be a successful direction, an education is crucial. The best field of study for you to pursue at the college level would be a degree in field studies.

Even in high school, there are courses you can take to prepare you for your film studies degree. At the college level, you can study in Los Angeles or New York City, the film capitals. There are plenty of good programs scattered throughout the country as well.

Some high school courses you can take to get you started include:


This may seem obvious, but take advantage of it if your school offers it. Even if you want to direct, study acting and technical work as well. Knowing the perspective of the cast and all crew will help you be a better leader.


Part of a director’s job is analyzing scripts. Pay attention in your English classes to develop the right analytical skills.


A good artist has a good perspective on all the creative arts. Also, having a background in music will open you to new directing experiences.

If your high school has no theater program, get involved in some community theater. You may even be able to volunteer for the experience. Consider a summer arts program for high school students. Sometimes, film programs require an audition or portfolio. Plan ahead so you’ll have the creative experience.

Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree

Film Director Certificate program 1 year

Many schools will allow you to take an undergraduate certificate program, whether or not you are in a degree program. Earning a certificate in film studies is a good way to get a film background while earning a degree in another major.

It will also allow you to take a few courses to determine if a film studies program is right for you. While a film director is not required to have a college degree, a more formal training that you have, the better.

You can finish most programs in a year and they require few admission requirements.


Core Courses

  • Film-making Studio
  • The Art of Film
  •  Advanced Pre-Production and Development
  • Intermediate Film Lab
  • Advanced Post-Production Workshop
  • Advanced Film Production


  • Digital Editing: Fundamentals
  • Cinematography and Lighting: Film and Digital
  • Audio Production
  • The Aesthetics of Directing
  • Experiments in 16mm Film-making
  • Script Analysis
  • Recycled Images and Non-Camera Film-making

Associate of Arts in Film Editing program 2 years

You can finish an associate’s degree in two years on a full-time schedule. An associate’s degree will prepare you for work as a film director in a variety of genres. You’ll gain skills in direction, camera operation, screenwriting, production management, and more.

Usually, the second year of study in an associate’s degree program is entirely filmmaking. You’ll not only learn how to direct movies, but works such as commercials, educational videos, and documentaries.

If you plan to transfer to a four-year film program, you’ll have the prerequisite courses you need to get started.


Core Courses  (Total Credit hours 64)

  • Camera & Lighting I
  • Director’s Craft I
  • Production Workshop
  • Digital Editing I
  • Screenwriting I
  • Acting for Directors
  • Camera & Lighting II
  • Director’s Craft II
  • Digital Editing II
  • Collaboration Workshop
  • Producing the Short Film I
  • Screenwriting II
  • Intermediate Film Production
  • Introduction to Film
  • Elements of Feature Screenwriting
  • Intermediate Film Post-Production
  • Marketing the Short Film
  • Sound Design
  • Director’s Craft III
  • Visual Effect
  • Producing Commercials & Music Videos
  • Camera & Lighting III
  • Screenwriting III
  • Feature Screenplay I
  • Thesis Film Directing
  • Advanced Production Workshop
  • Screenwriting IV: Short Thesis Screenwriting
  • Thesis Film Prep
  • Production Design
  • Digital Editing III
  • Thesis Film Production II
  • Thesis Film Production I
  • Entertainment Industry Seminar
  • Thesis Film Post-Production
  • Feature Screenplay II

The average cost of an associate of arts in film director program is about $65,470 – $78,580.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Studies program 4 Years

Admissions requirements vary from program to program. Some of the top programs demand a strong academic background in addition to talent and a passion for film.

If you’ve volunteered for your school’s productions and played around with your own films, they will impress and admissions committee. Once admitted, you’ll take courses in film analysis, criticism, and editing. You’ll also study different film forms, directing, and screenwriting.

A bachelor’s degree in film studies will give you a most thorough preparation in your career.


Core Courses

  • Introduction to Film
    Introduction to Digital Film and Emergent Media
  • History of Film to Mid-century
    History of Film after Mid-century
    Classical Film and Media Theory
    Contemporary Film and Media Theory
  • Studies in Ethnic Film
    Studies in Postcolonial Cinema
    Studies in Film, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Seminar in Film History
    Seminar in Digital Film and Emergent Media
    Seminar in Film and Media Theory
    Internship in Film Studies
  • Documentary History and Theory
    Introduction to Documentary Production
    Introduction to Screenwriting
    Film Directing
    Aesthetics of Film Editing
    Topics in Film Form
    National and Transnational Cinemas
    Film Genres
    Seminar in Film History
    Collaborative Documentary Design and Production
    Advanced Screenwriting
    Creating the Fiction Film I
    Creating the Fiction Film II
    Experimental Film and Media
    Senior Honors Project
    Independent Study
    FLM 491: Special topics in Film
    Internship in Film Studies
    Senior Thesis
  • Film and Literature
    Literature, Technology, Representation
    Literature and Visual Culture
    Topics in National Cinemas: German Cinema
    Topics in National Cinemas: East Asian Cinema
    Topics in National Cinemas: Israeli Cinema
    French, Italian, and Spanish Cinema since 1930
    Topics in National Cinemas: Russian and Soviet Cinema
    Plays as Film


  • Marketing & Professional Development
  • New Media

The average cost of a bachelor of arts in film director and fine arts program is about $121,626- $189,200.

Step 3: Get a Graduate Degree (Optional)

Master’s of Fine Arts in Film Studies

Master’s of Fine Arts programs vary in admissions requirements. Unlike bachelor’s programs, they may require more of their applicants, such as a minimum GPA, portfolio or audition, and/or experience.

The coursework is more advanced than a bachelor’s program. You’ll study topics such as film theory, rhetoric, film genres, and criticism. You may have to take as few as 24 credit hours or as many as 40 or more, depending on the program.


  • Tv Theory & Criticism
  • American Masterworks
  • Film Theory and Criticism
  • International Masterworks
  • Writing Film Criticism
  • American Independent Film
  • The Profane
  • Scandinavian Cinema
  • The Documentary
  • French New Wave
  • Film Styles
  • Holocaust on Film
  • Thesis

The average cost of a master of fine arts in film studies program is about $86,592- $137,498.

Step 4: Complete Assistant Director’s Training Program—Director’s Guild (Optional)

The Director’s Guild of America holds training programs for directors. Admission to the Assistant Director’s Training Program is very competitive. Applicants must complete online tests and interviews as part of the application process. A four-year degree and/or film experience are helpful.

Once admitted, you’ll work a minimum of 350 production days (about two years) on a real motion picture production. You’ll earn money for this.

Those who complete the program can work as second assistant directors. They are also eligible to join the Director’s Guild of America as a second assistant director.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Film Director and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1 : Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 1 year
Total 1 year

Option 2 : Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$65,470 – $78,580
Total 2 years $65,470 – $78,580

Option 3 : Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$121,626- $189,200
Total 4 years$121,626- $189,200

Option 4 : Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years $121,626- $189,200
Master’s2 years to 3 years$86,592- $137,498
Total6 years to 7 years$208,218- $326,698

Film Director Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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