Director

So you want to Direct Feature Films. You want to be the one that decides how to tell a story, what shots you will use, how a scene should unfold. You want your name appearing in lights at the end of the credits and all the glory that comes with it. That’s great!

The Film and Media Industry has transformed drastically in the last 10 years, make it more accessible than ever. The truth is that in order to Direct Movies, you don’t need extensive schooling, “connections”, or to “climb the ladder”…

…To Direct, You Need to Understand Film As a Business

That’s the major problem with all Film Schools; they fail to address any aspect of film as a business. A simple assessment of how films are actually created, produced, and distributed to an audience, how money is actually made through this business, will help clear up a lot of the questions you are having about what path to take.

Question: You are in the Film Business. How does this Business make money?

Answer: By creating Full, Feature Length Visual Stories (70 Minutes to 200+ Minutes) and:

  1. By charging $6-$15 admission per person to see them in a theater
  2. By charging $9-$20 for purchase of DVDs or Blue Ray to watch at home.
  3. By charging subscriptions to online streaming services like Netflix or Hulu+ to watch on a computer;
  4. By charging people $1 for a RedBox Rental to Watch at Home
  5. By charging $1-$9+ for a Digital Download to watch on a computer
  6. By charging Cable Companies fees to air the stories on Television
  7. and so on…

 Your Commodity/Product = Feature Films

As you can see, the Industry involved making money in many different ways by charging money to see Feature Films. 

You’ll notice that short films are nowhere on this list.

Seriously, when was the last time you paid to see a short film? Never.

The Short Film and Festival Trap

The typical film school encourages students to pay outrageous amounts of money to make a short or “thesis” film, that is supposed to serve as a “calling card” for their future.

This does not work. And it’s why AFI’s list of working Directors doesn’t include anyone who graduated after 2003.

Many aspiring Directors waste too much time and money making short films and submitting to festivals, hoping to… well, frankly, hoping to get noticed by Agents, Managers, or Producers.

And it rarely happens.

The reality is  that Short films go nowhere. It’s simple logic. Short films aren’t Features.

  • People pay to see a feature and it needs to maintain their interest for 2 hours.
  • Short films are watched on Youtube for free and forgotten about.

It’s very simple:

…To Direct Feature Films, You Have to Direct Feature Films

That’s the Secret that most filmmakers completely miss. Instead of trying to make a short film and hope you get noticed, you have to instead leverage all the low cost digital filmmaking equipment available to you and make your own darn feature length movie.

That’s your “Foot in the Door”. That’s your “Connection” and your “Hook Up”.

To Direct, You Don’t Need “Connections”

Wes Craven nearly ran out of money trying to make “Nightmare on Elm Street”. He had no connections to finance his movie. Nobody cared about his weird “Freddy Kruger” character. Nobody knew who he was. The movie was not expected to do well.. but it was a hit.

THEN, Craven got connections.

Many people are confused about needing “connections” to eventually end up Directing movie. It doesn’t work that way. In film, it isn’t about who you know, it’s about what you can produce. Try to name anyone who went to NYU, USC, or AFI in the last 10 years who got “connected” and transitioned that into a Directing job? It’s extremely rare.

Directing is about Passion, Dedication, Innovation, and being a Leader.

The Time to Direct a Feature is NOW

Everything you need to Direct a Feature Film is available to you. You have access to High Quality Digital Cameras, Lights, and Pro Editing Software on your Home Computer. You even have something never before possible in the history of cinema: a way to reach and sell your movie directly to your audience.

In the past, making a feature film cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And even if you finished one, the chances of anyone seeing it were minmal; you needed a distribution deal, you were competing with major studios to get space in a movie theater or a spot on the shelves at a Blockbuster video.

Now, you can put together your own Production Studio for less than one class at film school. You can shoot a Feature in your Hometown and Distribute it Worldwide via the Internet.

Doesn’t that seem faster, smarter, and more fun than spending your life savings and 4 years in film school?

Visualize and Sell Your First Feature

To make a movie, you don’t need extensive technical experience, you just need to have a clear vision of the story you want to tell.

Cut through all the things you believe you need to be successful… money, connections, school, etc. Just sit down and imagine your First Feature Film.

A First Feature should be: MANAGEABLE. A Small Feature (but not a short).

Some great First Features include:

  • “Clerks” by Kevin Smith
  • “El Mariachi” by Robert Rodriguez
  • “Pi” by Darren Aronofsky

Clerks was shot in a convenience store. It’s mostly people talking and making dick jokes for an hour and a half. It’s great!

Think of a story you want to tell that features a few main characters, only a handful of locations, something you can shoot in your hometown.

Strangely enough, many student films have budgets that are ten times what you would need to shoot a decent feature film.

Shoot your movie locally, and then Distribute it directly to your local fans and an online audience using iTunes, Amazon, etc.

Leveraging A First Feature

All Directing careers begin with a First Feature. They aren’t the Director’s final masterpiece, they are a demonstration of your talent and competence in handling a 70+ minute movie.

Every year thousands of people move to Los Angeles with big dreams of Directing Hollywood movies… and few ever do. If you plan on coming to LA, the right way is after you’ve shot your first feature. You will be taken seriously and actually be able to get meetings with Agents, etc.

A First Feature, even if it’s shot in your hometown with no name actors, is not only a commodity that you can sell right to your audience, it’s the best start of a directing resume. You can use it to get more directing work, and even leverage it when pitching investors on your next project.

The truth is that working in the Industry is very brutal. You can actually maintain more creative control as an Independent Feature Film Director. And, thanks to the ever changing face of media distribution, you don’t have to rely on a Studio to get your movies directly to your fans and an audience.

First Feature Directing Skill Set

A Director needs to understand all the technical aspects of Production  but he doesn’t need to Master any. For instance, as a director, you should know how a shotgun mic pics up sound, but you don’t need to spend 2 years as a Boom Operator. Ideally, you should be able to delegate these responsibilities.

Too many new filmmakers become obsessed with the technical aspects of filmmaking, think the Camera is the key to a good movie, when in fact that’s what a DP is for. In fact, you can Direct a film just by hiring the proper crew members, then standing back and telling everyone what to do.

The problem with film school is that you are paying money to crew on other people’s films, in order to learn what these positions do. This is very silly, because you can get this experience for free, as I illustrate in the “Networking Now” section of the site.

However, on a First Feature, the Director will realistically have to take on many more roles. You will have to Produce (i.e. get stuff done), and probably handle aspects of the Camera Department. You may even shoot your own movie entirely, which is manageable with a DSLR camera, unless you have the money to hire a number of crew members.

So the ideal route to Directing your first feature is to be trained certain specific aspects of Producing a movie, as well as the basic technical aspects of lighting, shooting, and editing. This gives you the freedom and power to get your own production in motion, and capture the necessary visuals and audio to get it done.

The Most Important Trait You Must Posses

Directing isn’t about talent alone; it’s about getting it done. In order to be successful, you must be driven, passionate, and willing to take a leadership role. 

You can’t just hope to be handed a Directing career or job; you have to earn it, to prove your worth by producing your first project yourself. And that takes a lot of of focused energy. It isn’t for everyone.

Feature Film Training Resources

Unfortunately, no film school in the world teaches feature filmmaking, financing, or selling your film directly to an audience. 

To find out about our Revolutionary New Feature Filmmaking Training Course,visit filmschoolsolution.com and register for our informational webinar.

2 Responses to “Director”

  1. Gabriel says:

    Very good article! Interesting point. I’m from Brazil, and here we have federal universities. They’re free, and the ones that offer Filmmaking teach all the theory of Cinema as an art (and a bit of filmmaking itself). It is four years of study. I find interesting to understand the academical side of Cinema, but at the same time, I don’t want to be a Cinema specialist. I want to jump to filmmaking. I’m a high middle class teenager, and I’ve studied in a very expensive school for all my life. For that reason, it’s unlikely that my parents will keep me out of college. To cut to the chase, I have a question: It is obligated in USA to have a master degree to work in television or to build a film-based company? Is filmmaking taken as a real job (document-based and officially recognized as so), or you can just get your stuff done considering film direction as an official work? The person (or people) who writes to this blog have experience in working in big sets and releasing full lenght films to large audiences? I’ll be very pleased to get some answers. Again, thank you a lot!

    • says:

      Hi Gabriel,

      It is absolutely completely without dispute UNNECESSARY to have a Masters Degree to do anything in film. In fact, 99% of the working professionals in film do not have a Masters Degree, and those who do are usually just teaching at college, not making movies.

      I recommend you check out my basic course and attend the upcoming webinar, it will answer all of your questions. You do not need ANY formal schooling to make movies. I advise people inside and outside of the industry and my colleagues have worked on recognizable studio products.

      But that is meaningless – as I explain in the webinar, when you are starting out you need to be realistic and understand that your first few movies will not reach a large audience – you have to build that over time.

      Even Steven Spielberg did not have a large audience for his first few projects, and he did 4 made for TV movies before he even made a movie that went into movie theaters.

      One of my students Fabian Santos lives in Brazil – he just shot a feature. You should talk to him.

      Seth

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