CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 17, 2014
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How to Become a TV or Film Director

TV or film directors work in the media and entertainment industries where they control all the activities involved in making TV programs, movies, music videos and commercials. These professionals bear the overall responsibility for the quality of the final product. If you would love to pursue a career that gives you a platform to put your creativity to work and influence the quality of content people watch, you can become a TV or film director.

What They Do

The duties and responsibilities of TV and film directors vary with the nature of a production project. Unlike the production of movies and recorded programs, live broadcasts are more demanding and require experienced directors. Nonetheless, in both productions, TV and film directors commonly have the following roles;

  • Selecting cast members and conducting rehearsals
  • Making creative decisions to guide various production aspects
  • Coordinating the activities of cast and technical crews, such as editors and camera operators
  • Holding meetings with producers to discuss production issues, such as availability of suitable shooting locations.
  • Interpreting scripts for actors or contributors of a television program or movie
  • Raising funds for a TV or film production project

Work Environment

Because the production needs of a TV or film assignment often vary, TV and film directors have irregular work schedules. They can work throughout the week and into the weekend to hit tight production deadlines. Work settings also vary with project needs. TV producers normally work in studios while film directors oversee filming activities in various locations, such as malls and nature parks.

Salary

As of May 2012, TV and film directors in the United States had an average salary of $71,350. The following table provides average salaries for directors in various industries;

Industry

Mean annual wage

Motion picture and video

$94,110

Cable and subscription programming

$83,220

TV broadcasting

$56,950

Performing arts

$49,690

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

It is important to note that pay can vary with your level of experience and nature of production project. For example, film directors overseeing the production of mainstream movies with multi-million budgets can earn much more money, especially if the movie sells millions of copies.

Education, Training and Development

In TV and film production, experience, a strong portfolio and industry connections rule. It is hardly possible to become a TV or film director by earning advanced degrees in film and TV production alone. Most directors rise to this position after several years of working in junior roles, such as video editor, and mid-level roles, such as associate producer. However, pursing a foundation degree in film and television production is crucial to gaining entry into the profession.

Some of the best film schools in the U.S include;

Continually looking to advance your skills, pursuing short, continuing education courses and joining organizations, such as the Directors Guild of America, is a sure way to advance your career. Apart from improving your prospects of securing lucrative production projects, you can establish a reputable TV or film production company.

Essential Skills

To be a competent TV and film director, you will need;

  • Leadership skills to guide and motivate production staff
  • Creativity and imagination to develop and implement captivating and informative ideas
  • Communication skills to get information across to several people effectively
  • Time-management skills to meet tight project deadlines
  • Organization and planning skills to arrange the work of cast and crew

Employment Prospects

Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a meager 3 percent job growth for TV and film producer and directors in the U.S between 2012 and 2022, you should focus on improving your portfolio by working on freelance projects and engaging in personal film projects, such as making documentaries, after which you can hunt for jobs in these places;

  • Media firms
  • Advertising agencies
  • Motion picture and video companies
  • Local theaters

Pursuing a career in TV and film production isn’t all about working to secure projects with million-dollar budgets; it’s also about giving back to the society by ensuring television programs and films are entertaining, informative and engaging.

 

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