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You may also find our page on ‘Becoming a Freelance Photographer or Videographer‘ helpful.

A director will make a script into their own by using their imagination and visualisation skills, they will decide both the structure and style of the production – ultimately becoming the storyteller of either the film, television programme, show etc.

The main duties of a director are:

  • Interpreting scripts and then creating storyboards
  • Supervising the editing of the script
  • Casting roles, locations and guiding technical crew
  • Directing! Deciding what direction to take the production, directing actors (where to stand, how to speak etc)
  • Deciding on music and costumes
  • Taking both the schedule and budget into consideration
  • Motivating their team.

There will be a large amount of input from other people who are a part of the team, such as editors and producers – but it is the director that has the final say.  As it is their personal interpretation, they will have specific ideas and a certain direction they want things to go.

The same goes for how an actor is performing; if they feel an actor needs to be funnier, have different timings concerning their lines or they need to be more serious, then the director is in charge and what they say goes!

There are certain skills that are expected of a director:

  • Creative, artistic and have a vivid imagination
  • Self-belief and confidence
  • Have a good attention for detail
  • Patience and passion.  As a director, you would have to work very long, irregular and perhaps unsociable hours
  • Able to work under pressure and remain calm.  There may be situations where something doesn’t go to plan, and as you would be in charge, it would be up to you to decide how to overcome these obstacles!
  • Being able to problem solve, make decisions and use your initiative!
  • Communication skills.  So that you are able to convey what you have in your mind to your team – whether it concerns the set design, the acting… everything.
  • Good organisational skills.

Qualifications and Training to become a Film Director

Due to the competitiveness of the industry involving film, television and theatre, it is always a good idea to take part in some sort of training to give you an advantage – whether you decide to take a short course, go through a college or university.

By choosing to study, it usually means that you will be able to make useful industry contacts that you might not otherwise have had. It’s also really important to gain up-to-date filmmaking and equipment techniques.

By having practical experience, you can eventually work yourself up if you decide not to go down the educational route; many people start off as runners on set and then move on to assistant directors or floor managers and then a director!

Having experience is absolutely vital in helping you to succeed in your chosen career, taking a course will provide both the practical and educational side of things. Here are some useful links for finding directing courses:

  • The London Film Academy
  • London Film School
  • National Film and Television School
  • British Film Institute

Finding work as a Film Director

As with the majority of careers that are based in the entertainment business, there will always be tough competition. The best way to stand out is to make sure that you sell yourself effectively and look in the right places for jobs.

Here are some useful suggestions on how to find work and market yourself:

  • Join the Directors Guild Trust. Provides all the latest news and events in the industry and can help with funding.
  • Create you own professional website / YouTube clips / use social media. Using the internet to demonstrate your talent is ideal. You can also use this to show off your own personal projects that you may have been working on.  Try setting up links between your website, social net-working profile and online video clips.
  • Have a look on Broadcast Freelancer.  This is a source for job leads, connections, news and career guides within the industry.
  • 4rfv.  A UK online film and television industry directory.
  • Film TV.  An independent website that gives career advice and the chance to have your own profile.

Benefits of freelancing as a Film Director

Freelance directors can work for production companies, where they are usually paid for each individual project or contract, or can even develop their own personal projects.

There are many advantages in becoming a freelance director, some of which include:

  • Flexibility and time management – you can decide when and where you want to work.
  • Job satisfaction.
  • The opportunity to make more money as well as having greater tax benefits.

By using our Freelancer Calculator you can work out exactly how much you could potentially take home.

Having made the decision to become a freelance film director, whether full or part time, and whether to set up as a sole trader or limited company, you’re going to need a wide range of tax and accountancy advice and support in the early days when setting up as a freelancer.

The most daunting thing about going freelancing for most people is the thought of having to engage with an accountant. At first glance it’s easy, you go down to your local high street accountant who quotes you anything from £250 to £800 plus VAT to do your end of year accounts for you. This sounds great, however what happens if you want to speak to your accountant for advice throughout the year on things like:

-Tax planning (i.e. what should you pay yourself)
-Employing other people
-What you can expense through the company

Therefore, it can be very useful to pay an accountant a monthly fee so that they can advise you throughout the year, and not just prepare your year end accounts.

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