Film director jobs are not just limited to top-billed positions on feature films. Many film directors work their way up through the ranks of the film industry, gaining knowledge and contacts as they move from position to position. Learning about different film director jobs can be the first step for many young film directors who dream of seeing their name in lights.
Beginning directors who wish to gain some insight into their field may start out as an assistant to an established director. The duties of this job may vary, but usually contain a lot of menial work such as running errands, getting coffee, and being blamed for not doing things right. While this job may lack the glamor of higher-ranking film director jobs, it can offer a novice a personal peek into the complex life of a director. Working as an assistant can also give an aspiring director valuable contacts which may develop into useful relationships later on.
Being an assistant to the director is a very different job than being an assistant director. An assistant director, or A.D., is an intensely valuable member of any film set. Charged with making sure all departments are communicating and working on schedule, it is the difficult job of the assistant director to make sure a shooting day stays as close to the timetable as possible. The assistant director may have a second-in-command, also called the 2nd A.D., charged with shepherding the actors to scenes on time and attending to their needs.
Becoming an assistant director requires extensive onset experience, as well as great communication skills and a near-mythic level of patience. A good A.D. will be able to gently push department heads and crew members to where they need to go, without alienating or infuriating anyone. Serving as the liaison between the director and his crew, the A.D. has a difficult job that can often land him or her in hot water. For aspiring directors needing to learn the value of patience and time management, training as an assistant director may be one of the most beneficial film director jobs available.
Film director jobs often spill into areas typically considered to be in the realm of producing. The Director's Guild of America (DGA) serves as the labor union for all film director jobs in the United States, and its members include non-directing workers such as unit production managers, stage managers, and technical managers. Working in any of these capacities will give young directors the opportunity to observe how a film is made, and give insight into the delicate politics and practical aspects of the film industry.
Since the late 20th century, a growing number of popular directors have been termed auteurs, or “authors.” Auteurs typically both write and direct, and may receive producing or cinematography credit as well for their work. Classically, they are typically seen as creative visionaries, and understandably have a reputation for ego. In the age of digital film and low-budget productions, however, auteurs often start out as someone who writes a script and gets his or her friends to help make it for no money. For many, this is the most ideal job as a film director, as it includes almost total control of the filmmaking process.
For many young directors, the urge to get out and start making movies will be overwhelming. It is worthwhile in many cases to merge that enthusiasm with some practical experience, which can be obtained by having low-level film director jobs. While they may not pay well or feed the creative soul, entry-level film director jobs offer a lifetime of education about the business, and may give a glimpse of the future ahead.