Directors are the true authors of a film. They translate the written word
and bring it to life with sounds, lighting, setting and action. A director
is responsible for everything on or off the screen, working in each creative
phase of filmmaking and molding them into one dramatic whole.
A director plans a film before visiting the set. One of the first steps
of preparation is the storyboard, a series of drawings that lay out how a
script will be shot. These sketches represent key scenes and demonstrate camera
angles and character movement. A director may also put together a shot list.
Directors spend their time in a variety of places, climates and environments.
An on-location shoot may mean working at night or in rain or heat. Days can
be long. During shooting, workweeks can extend to seven days. When they're
not shooting a movie, directors spend time in editing suites getting the film
Directors work intimately with actors to bring characters to life. They
do whatever it takes to ensure an actor's performance is top notch.
Elia Kazan, director of such classic films as Gentleman's Agreement and
A Streetcar Named Desire, has this advice for those considering a career in
directing: Be familiar with the literature of all periods -- a film director
is better equipped if he or she is well read. Understand the art of the screenplay,
since the screenplay is ultimately the responsibility of the director. Know
the history of stage scenery, setting, costuming and lighting and the tools
of the trade. Know how to motivate and inspire actors.
Breaking into the industry is difficult. Make as many short films as possible
in school, and submit your work to local or international film festivals.
Take part in high school and college plays or work with little theaters and
other acting groups. The best way to start is to use local opportunities and
build on them. Don't aim for the top right away.
"Movies and film -- the entertainment business -- isn't like other businesses
in terms of moving up the ranks. You can go from zero to the top in one step
if you have talent, or beauty, or striking good looks or remarkable luck,"
says director David Schmoeller. "The film business is almost 100 percent word
of mouth. It's really who you know."
Minimum salaries, hours of work and other conditions of employment may
be covered in collective bargaining agreements between producers and unions