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Hi I'm Emily Maguire

I'm a UK career coach and business coach for individuals in the creative and entertainment industries and passionate about helping people achieve their career goals. I'm also a top voice on LinkedIn for the Film Industry and a podcast producer and host.

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Emily Maguire UK Career Coach and Business Coach for the arts, creative and entertainment industry

Media Jobs and the Director's Chair: A Guide to Becoming a Film Director

Updated: 6 days ago

Working as a film director involves collaborating with a team of professionals, including actors, cinematographers, producers, and editors. You will oversee all aspects of the production, such as casting, locations, set design, and costumes, to ensure that the final product is of high quality. This post provides an overview of a film director's job and directs you to websites that can help you learn more about this exciting role.

 Job Roles on a Film Set - Film Director

Table of Contents


1. So, You Want to be a Film Director?

In this first of a series of posts, we will explore the various job roles in the TV and media industry, starting with the role of the Film Director.

If you already know the role you want to apply for and need help writing your CV, see blog posts with my guidance on creating a CV for TV and Media jobs.

2. Film Director Job Description

So, you want to be a film director but are still determining what skills, qualities and training are needed and are trying to figure out where to start. Any search you do on Google returns hundreds of results, and knowing what information to trust can be daunting.

The director is responsible for guiding the film's creative vision and ensuring that it aligns with the overall goals and objectives of the project. The director must be able to communicate their vision clearly and effectively and possess strong leadership and organisational skills to keep the production on track and within budget.

Most film directing jobs involve working freelance, self-employed, and on short-term contracts, with jobs predominantly found in major cities such as Leeds, Manchester, and London.

Starting as a runner can give you valuable on-set experience and help you build a network of useful industry contacts.

Those already working in the industry will understand how erratic contracts can be. They may find they have to support their directing work with supplementary roles as teachers, passing their skills on to up-and-coming directors.

3. Film Director Salary

What can you expect to earn as a film director?

The average UK salary is £50,440, but this salary is variable and depends on your experience level, the size and type of production you work on, and the company you work for.

You may work long, unsociable hours, often evenings and weekends, from home, in a studio, or on location. You may even travel and stay away from home for long periods.

As a director, you will guide and manage a production team comprising actors and crew to complete the project. You can direct a variety of projects, including feature films, short films, television shows, commercials, music videos, and corporate videos.

Employability Skill Mindmap

4. TV and Media Jobs: Skills and Qualities

Still interested but unsure if you have the right skills and qualities?

There isn't a standard path towards becoming a film director, but having the correct skills and qualities will help you on your career journey.

Directors should have the skills and qualities of:

  • Creativity and artistry

  • Problem-solving and adaptability

  • Ability to pay attention to details

  • Being able to inspire others, including leadership and diplomacy

  • Being self-motivated and able to work to tight deadlines

  • Knowing new technologies and how to edit

  • Understanding the different aspects of the film and television industry

  • Having good stamina, resilience and mental agility

  • Being critical thinkers

  • Good at networking and communicating

5. Useful Subjects

As mentioned earlier, there are no standard routes to directing; however, below are some of the subjects that could be helpful.

  • Business Studies

  • Creative Media

  • Drama or Theatre Studies

  • Editing

  • Film Studies

  • Media Studies

  • Photography

  • Psychology

  • Script Writing

Acquiring a degree in a related subject would be beneficial, as would gaining work experience. Making your own short films is also a great way to get comfortable with all aspects of filmmaking, and anything you create can contribute to your marketing showreel.

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) is highly regarded in the industry and has a range of long and short courses filmmaking courses in media, film and television studies, enabling you to work on all aspects of production.

Film production set

6. Day-to-Day Responsibilities

A typical day-to-day working on set as a director may involve:

  • Discussing the budget with producers or other financiers.

  • Directing production crew, including camera, sound, lighting and actors.

  • Selecting cast and helping them to interpret the script.

  • Reading scripts and giving feedback to writers for further development.

  • Supervising editing and inputting on the final version of the project.

  • Keeping up-to-date on emerging industry trends.

  • Be responsible for keeping the project on time and within budget.

  • Planning the shooting schedule and logistics of the shoot.

7. Where to Find More Information

Still interested in being a film director? Here are some places to find more details about the role. Be prepared to make direct approaches with evidence of your work and a CV detailing your experience.

Organisations like Screenskills and Screen Yorkshire also offer initiatives and subsided training schemes for new talent.

8. Related Careers

Curious about other TV and film job roles in the media industry; have you considered any of the below?

Camera Operator: The Camera Operator is responsible for operating cameras and capturing footage for films, television shows, or other productions. They must have in-depth knowledge of camera equipment, lighting, and shot composition and work closely with the Director of Photography to ensure the camera is positioned correctly to capture the shot accurately.

Film Editor: A Film Editor selects and assembles footage to create a final product. They must have strong creative and technical skills to use editing software effectively. They work closely with the Director and Producer to ensure the final product meets their vision.

Stage Manager: A Stage Manager coordinates and oversees all aspects of a live theatre performance. They must have excellent organizational skills to manage the cast, crew, and all technical aspects of the production and the ability to think on their feet to troubleshoot any issues.

Theatre Director: A Theatre Director oversees all aspects of a theatre production, from casting to opening night. They must have strong creative skills to bring the script to life and excellent communication skills to liaise with the cast and crew. They also strongly understand all technical aspects of theatre production, such as lighting, sound, and set design.

Alternatively, you may consider a film public relations job, where you'll build and maintain relationships with journalists, organise press events, manage communications with stakeholders, and create publicity strategies to promote films. You'll need excellent communication, interpersonal, and organisational abilities and a deep understanding of the film industry and its trends.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what it takes to become a film director. To stay updated with the latest industry news and job opportunities, make sure to follow me on LinkedIn. If you are interested in watching some videos and discovering more creative careers, then you may enjoy my career resources, which can be found here.

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