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What does a Director do?

Directors provide the creative vision for theatrical, broadcast and movie productions. To create scenes that keep audiences involved and entertained, successful directors need a unique combination of talent, creativity, technical, business and management skills.

Directors are responsible for interpretation of the script, guidance of the cast members and management of the entire production from start to finish.

Directors typically audition actors, select cast members, conduct rehearsals and coordinate the activities of the production crew. They make scores of creative decisions:
  • Characterization and movements of the actors
  • Design of sets, costumes, lighting
  • Use of music, sound effects, orchestration, choreography
  • Script changes
  • Camera angles, film editing, special effects
  • Settings or film locations
Depending on the size and type of production, a director might oversee anywhere from a handful of actors up to a "cast of thousands". Also dependent on the size of the production is the need for assistant directors, who may coordinate activities at a second location or help give cues to actors or crew members. Directors need to keep a close eye on finances and are ultimately accountable to the executive producer for staying within an established budget.

Training for a career as a director

Competition for directing positions is fierce, so formal education is advised. You might pursue a bachelor's degree in film, theater, radio and television broadcasting, or communications. Some universities offer degrees in film direction. Additional course work might include stage directing, play writing, design or dramatic literature.

Many aspiring directors gain experience in a related field like acting or writing, or learn on-the-job by assisting established directors. Some start their careers with small local or independent productions and progress to larger venues.

New York and Los Angeles may be the "Big Time" for stage, screen and television productions, but you can find directing opportunities across the country in regional theaters, repertory groups, indie film or video companies, local or cable television studios.

Prospective directors can even direct commercials, make corporate or educational videos, or oversee dramatic productions at resorts, universities or community theaters.

Career outlook for directors

Employment for directors is expected to grow at a rate of about 10 percent, as reported by Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued development of interactive media, portable electronic devices, online movies and cable television operations should fuel the need for directors.

It's worth noting that many directors' salaries are covered by collective bargaining through unions like Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC) for stage directors and Director's Guild of America for film and television directors.

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