View Full Version : Advice on becoming a Director

05-13-2005, 06:21 AM

Any advice here? I write my own screenplays and of course serve as my own editor. Do those who direct their own shorts/features go to film school/take workshops or did you read a bunch of books no the subject and go to it?


05-13-2005, 11:02 PM
You know Chris, there are a lot of answers to this but there are a few things to keep in mind.

I worked as an actor in Hollywood for over 10 years where I was actually making a living at it. But eventually I decided that my creativity was needing a better outlet. So, I decided to start producing my own stuff. But, I was ahead of the curve in some ways as I was pretty familiar with the whole film business and I could stick myself in a film and actually get some sales :)

Anyway, I wrote a script and put together some "name" actor friends of mine and then spent 6 months raising money from friends, family, etc. to make the film. I eventually put together about 400 grand and we shot it. We got lucky and I have produced about 6 films since then.

I just finished my favorite one which we did for 100 grand and shot on HD 24P. It was a western/thriller and a very great experience as I had no producers hounding over our shoulders. But, that will usually be the case so you have to deal with it. I have directed two films, second unit directed four films and had three screenplays produced.

Guess what I am trying to say is, the best thing to do is just start doing it. I never went to film school, but was around a working environment that taught me a lot as an actor. When I started directing, I was very familiar with sets and the proccess of how they work. Just start small and start entering film festivals. Do a couple shorts and see the problems and work load that comes with that. You can learn a lot that way.

Good luck and get to work!

05-13-2005, 11:15 PM
The best advice I could give you is don't ever pick up this guys attitude. (http://www.dvxuser.com/V3/showthread.php?t=26206)

05-15-2005, 11:22 PM
Hey Chris just start shooting shit. Anything, nothing, everything. Direct everything if that is what u want to be. Just keep working at it. Go to film school if you want to gain the knowledge that way. Or if you’re more a self learner, just start working at it. I have worked with allot of different directors and have directed allot of different things from features to shorts to commercials, to live concerts. And every one of them has been different and a different learning experience. I just won two Telly awards for two live musical concerts that I produced and directed, that is a fact that I am very proud of. But all I did was just kept working at it and asking for help and listening to other people’s opinions and that helped allot. You will learn in this industry you are only as good as your reel. No knowledge from a film school matters to anyone if you don't have a reel that shows what you can do.

05-15-2005, 11:56 PM
think in shots
that will make sense
in your original way

05-17-2005, 10:35 AM

05-17-2005, 10:44 AM
If you want to learn how not to do things, than go to film school. You will come out broke, and starting out as a PA, anyway you could do that without film school. Save the money you would spend on film school, and put it towards your own movie. Yeah the best thing is to shoot, than shoot some more. There is not any better practice than actually getting out there and doing it. You will learn so much from production to production. More than you would at any film school, I gurantee it. And one last thing,don't brag about how much money you spent on your movie(unless it was under $10,000) Throwing out numbers, and names will get you nowhere.

05-17-2005, 12:05 PM
Advice? Don't be a dick!

05-17-2005, 03:57 PM
Wow! You guys bummed me out! I have spent alot for film school in the last 5 years. Also alot of my friends have gone on to LA by just shooting "the beeyyetch". I have these experiences. Each one different than the last.

Advice! Keep shooting, shoot for yourself, don't give up and love her like there is no tomarrow.

Yes, you are only as good as your last job or show real, yet do not let that slow you down.
Somewhere, there is a need for what you have to offer.

05-19-2005, 06:38 PM
The answer is what do you want to be? A director is a big term. For 99.999999% of the people that think they are going to make a movie of commercial success as a director or get into the hollywood system, they are wrong. You'd get into the NBA and the NFL before you'd become a director in hollywood. If you want to do the film festival route, then start watching films, reading scripts and start directing. Most folks that think they can direct can not, but it seems easy. Certain people are good as directors. Just like certain people are good as writers. School may or may not help you. I know plenty that wasted six ears of school and never got into anything and others who never went to school and did well for themselves. In the end it has more to do with socializing and getting to know people than anything else. I can tell you story after story. Here's a few of various production stories. One guy I know well used to own a generator and do low budget features. He worked for me for years. Never knew much about cinematography and never seemed like he wanted to. Then he started dating a girl who was a rep. Suddenly and to this day he's one of the most popular DoPs of music videos out there. Another friend went to school with me. He worked for years as an AD in television. GOt under the wing of a well known director and today he directs Who Wants To Be a millionaire and that means he works about three moths out of the year, then paid for the rest of the year and for every time the show airs in any market he gets paid again. Then I have another college buddy who spent all the money he had to make "his film" plus some others ($150,000). He lost all his money and realized how hard it is to make a successful story that anyone likes. Then their is another friend who never went to school and owns and alarm company and started to get to know folks and now produces lower budget films and makes a living off it. And another high school buddy went to Hollywood and was a script reader. He hooked up with some friends and now produces all those Rob Schnieder films. There are 100 more...

Jim Brennan
05-20-2005, 08:27 AM
Do what you do for the right reasons. Then get really good at your craft. Everything follows that.

If what you want to do is direct, then direct. Make a lot of movies, learn as much as you can. There is no right way. It's whatever works for you.

I don't know anything about film school. But I surround myself with people who know more than I do (including the people on this site), and constantly pick their brains. I read about filmmaking constantly. I just think of myself as a filmmaker. I think about it all the time. I do whatever it takes to make movies. The world looks different through those eyes.

05-20-2005, 09:13 AM
that was a great reply walter. i think that's the hardest thing - finding a path. I always feel frozen because i don't know what the hell to do and people say 'well figure out where you wanna be in five years." Unfortunately, with this sort of thing, there is no clear five year path - it's not like going to law school or something. There are no guarantees. And there's a fine line between making your dreams happen and screwing your life up.

05-20-2005, 09:25 AM
Do what you love and do what you have to to make money. If it makes you happy then why not stay happy. If one is different than the other, so be it. If you can make money at what you love then all the better.

Jim Brennan
05-20-2005, 02:40 PM
Statistics are a funny thing. You might hear that half of all marriages fail, or half the people who go to college never finish. That however, doesn't mean that those are the odds for you. Of all the people who talk about being professional filmmakers, few actually get there. But in many cases that is a choice. People's priorities change, they find out how much work it is, they find something else they have more passion for, they decide that security (or the illusion of it) is more important, etc...It's not a random role of the dice as to who "makes it"

My point is that you can be a professional director if you are willing to learn the craft, are open to opportunities (often disguised as hard work), treat people with honesty and respect, are willing to hustle and continue learning, and you PERSIST.

But, I am one of those annoying optimists that believe in the power of the human spirit. Feel free to ignore me.

Rogue Crew
05-20-2005, 08:36 PM
Your first instinct is to get a sorta script and a camera and some lights, assemble a cast and crew and start directing. That's natural. But really, most of the work is like house painting - preparation, preparation, preparation. Get a pair of scissors and cut the script up and tape it back together so that all the scenes in each location are together. Make notes on this copy - did you really allow for all the coverage shots? Do you have access to all the stuff you need for each scene? Damn! Where's that copy of the Declaration of Independence? Did anyone remember to bring lemons? The first few times you do it, I'll guarantee you'll be your own line-producer as well as director. Run through the setup of every shot in your head and make notes. Get others involved to lessen the burden. Then go have fun.