How to become a film director can seem like a difficult question to answer! Many professional film directors began their careers in different ways, and the industry has changed a lot in the last few decades, so advice from a seasoned pro may not apply today. Since you don’t need a specific degree or license to make a film, filmmaking is one of those careers that doesn’t have a specific path you must follow. However, there are still steps you can take to launch your filmmaking career and get started in the entertainment industry.
Meet other people who are passionate about filmmaking
Even if you see yourself as an independent artist, you won’t be able to make a film completely alone. Many filmmakers move to places like New York and Los Angeles so that they can immerse themselves in entertainment and meet other like-minded artists. One way to do this is by getting an entry-level job on a film crews or at studios, networks, commercial production companies, digital video companies, etc.
However, you can also meet both aspiring and established directors, screenwriters, producers, editors, actors, camera operators, sound engineers and other creative people even if you don’t move to an entertainment hub. See if there are any local film or TV productions near you that you can work on. You can also volunteer (or try to get a job at) a local film festival. Local universities may also offer classes or workshops where you can meet people and learn more about the art of filmmaking.
The internet also makes your geographic location less important. Find other people interested in film using FilmUp, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, Craigslist and other forums. It’s very easy to set up a profile on FilmUp to connect with people in the industry and find positions or fill positions for your own film.
Don’t think of networking as just finding people who are more experienced than you are. Think of it as meeting valuable friends and future co-workers. Even if someone isn’t established now, you can both perfect your crafts and learn together. Ideally, you’ll both in positions to help each other in the future.
Learn from YouTube tutorials
Confused about how to use a camera or edit a movie on your computer? YouTube offers a wealth of filmmaking tutorials to help you get started. Although film schools can be valuable and supportive environments, you do not need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an expensive degree to become a filmmaker. Teach yourself the craft by watching videos and then practicing filmmaking skills yourself, with friends and with the people you’ve networked with, either in person or through the internet.
Here are a few of the top YouTube channels that can help you learn more about filmmaking:
Film Riot – interviews, review, VFX tips, DIY tips and budget tips
Filmmaker IQ – Camera information, audio tips, film history, unboxing and more
Tom Antos – how-to videos about filmmaking that include lighting scenes, color correction and more
Let go of your fear and just make something
As great as the internet can be for filmmaking resources, don’t feel like you need to spend years watching tutorials and becoming an expert before you try to make a film on your own. Let go of your fear and just go out and make something! Don’t wait for someone to give you permission. Directing is something that you must learn by DOING.
Embrace failure – if your first film doesn’t come out exactly the way you were hoping for, you can always make another one. You will get better each time! You’ll learn what works, what doesn’t, what’s expensive, what’s a shortcut, and what you’re particularly passionate about. Maybe you’ll find out that the action genre no longer interests you – or that it’s the ONLY thing you want to do from now on. Maybe you’ll realize you enjoy editing your own work – or maybe you’ll discover that finding a talented editor is a better approach for you.
Also, networking and watching tutorials aren’t things you need to “complete” before you launch your filmmaking career. You will continuously be meeting people and learning new things as you make your own films. The hustle never ends – but this also means that you won’t be doing the exact same thing every day for the rest of your life. Enjoy it! You might also enjoy working on multiple projects at once as they’re at different stages.