Becoming A Film Director: Getting Started

Becoming A Film Director: Getting Started

There are many routes to becoming a film director, and most successful film directors each have a different story as to how they started. Common to all of them, however, is often a passion for film, determination, an ability to adapt, and a creative approach to getting experience.

If you have ambitions to become the next Christopher Nolan or Kathryn Bigelow, then the tips below offer a good place to start.


Many filmmakers began making films before they had any formal training, but all filmmakers benefit from training of some sort. You might choose to embark on a filmmaking degree or Master’s course, or you may attend workshops, masterclasses, and other intensive events. Whether you choose formal or informal education, all of the best filmmakers never stop learning about film and improving their craft.

Build a Portfolio

As a director, a portfolio of work can help to demonstrate your skill, style, and experience. Whether you film a few clips on your phone or a video camera, or organise an ambitious shoot for your own short film, it all contributes positively to your portfolio. Also consider making a showreel (see our previous posts on showreels) to put on a website or share with people you would like to work with.

Enter Competitions

Film festivals and competitions can be a great opportunity to gain publicity and prestige for your film. Many successful film directors began by making short films or music videos and entering them for competitions. You may have the opportunity to win an award or prize, and be seen by influential people in the film industry too. Even if you do not have a film ready to send right away, competitions and festivals can be a positive goal to aim for in the future.

Gain Experience

It can be difficult to gain filmmaking experience when you are just beginning, so think creatively and stay positive. Look into opportunities to volunteer on productions or become a runner or assistant. This can be valuable experience and training because it gives you a direct insight into the filmmaking process. It also allows you to network and make professional connections with people already working in the industry. If you are a valuable asset on set, perhaps other crew members will provide references or recommendations for you. They may even start work on a new production and remember you for another role. A number of filmmakers began as runners and assistants, gradually becoming valued for their skills and eventually having the opportunity to lead whole teams for their own productions.

With patience, persistence, and a willingness to learn, you can pursue your dream of becoming a film director.

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