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What degree should I get if I want to be a Film Director / Producer?

#director #film #film-acting #television #film-production

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Subject: Career question for you


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Jay’s Answer

As others have mentioned, there's a distinction between being a producer and being a director. They require different skill sets, and sometimes different degrees depending on the arc your career takes you. A producer, being on the business side of the industry, sometimes has both a BFA and a BS, or just a BS, while a director typically has just a BFA or MFA.

It's important to recognize how the film industry operates, and how that corresponds with the process of getting a degree from an accredited university. From my experience, film education occurs on set primarily, and in classes secondarily. This is to say that getting a degree for film and being a successful director is not intrinsically linked the way other career paths are linked to their educational prerequisites.

So the question becomes: what are the advantages of attending a film school like NYU or USC? The keyword is connections. The students you will share classes with will help you on film sets and vice versa, and you'll establish a network of individuals that will most assuredly enter the industry and continue to collaborate with one another as they rise up the ladders. It is still a business of who you know, and attending a school for film accelerates that process.

Film directing is a craft and requires one to invest time and money into the process of exploring it. Attending a film school, you'll be given a crew, equipment, time, and mentoring to help harness your talent. You're also paying (or borrowing for) a premium to attend a school that is meant to pay you back in dividends through the aforementioned connections you make. But lucrative post-graduate employment is never a guarantee.

Now more than ever, filmmaking is made accessible to smaller crews with remarkably cheaper equipment. Those with the ingenuity to invest time early in the development of their craft are often more able to ride the waves of career ups and downs than those who relied on formal education to give them what they need. This is to say that the best thing you can do to begin a filmmaking career is to start making movies! Don't wait to get a degree or start schooling.

Jay recommends the following next steps:

Study film! There are free courses on sites like Coursera which provide a curriculum to enrich your creative mind
Read scripts! There our resources online like SimplyScripts that give access to produced screenplays.
Make movies! Find a crew, shoot on your phone if you have to, practice writing scripts, editing. Learn the process
Find your favorite filmmakers and see what career tracks they took.
Look at the top film schools in the world, and their graduates, to determine if you'd like to attend.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Charlize,

Education for Film Director / Producer

To become a successful film director or producer, there is no specific degree requirement. However, many individuals in these roles have pursued degrees in film production, film studies, cinematography, or related fields. The choice of degree largely depends on the individual’s career goals and interests within the film industry.

Film Production or Cinematography Degree

A degree in film production or cinematography provides a comprehensive understanding of the technical aspects of filmmaking. Students learn about camera operation, lighting techniques, sound design, and editing. This knowledge is crucial for individuals aspiring to become directors or producers as it allows them to have a deep understanding of the production process.

Film Studies Degree

A degree in film studies focuses on the theoretical and historical aspects of cinema. It provides students with a strong foundation in film theory, history, and criticism. While this degree may not offer as much hands-on experience in production techniques, it can provide valuable insights into storytelling, visual language, and the cultural impact of films.

Business or Management Degree

In addition to creative skills, successful film directors and producers often require strong business acumen. Pursuing a degree in business or management can equip individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the business side of the film industry. This includes budgeting, project management, negotiation, and marketing strategies.

Fine Arts Degree

Some aspiring directors and producers opt for a fine arts degree with a focus on filmmaking. This type of program often combines artistic expression with technical skills, allowing students to develop their creative vision while gaining practical production experience.


Ultimately, the best degree for aspiring film directors or producers depends on their specific career goals and interests within the industry. While technical knowledge of filmmaking is essential, understanding the business side of the industry and having a strong creative vision are also crucial for success in these roles.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Used:

The Hollywood Reporter: A leading source of entertainment news and industry insights.
American Film Institute (AFI): A renowned institution dedicated to advancing and preserving the art of film.
Variety: A reputable source for entertainment industry news and analysis.

These sources were used to gather information on educational paths pursued by successful film directors and producers as well as industry trends and insights related to education in filmmaking.

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Wilson’s Answer

Hello Charlize M

Career as a Filmmaker
About Filmmaker
A filmmaker, or film director, is someone who is in charge of making, leading, and developing movie productions. It is a career that allows an individual to use their leadership as well as creative thinking skills to lead and direct major motion pictures or made-for-television films.

A filmmaker spends very long hours making sure the film is being shot in a way that will provide entertainment for the audience and will highlight the actors and actresses' strengths. They will see each film through, from where the film is shot, to how the script will be played out, to what actors and actresses best fit the roles of the characters. The filmmaker also manages the financial end of the production.

Eligibility to become Filmmaker
Candidates who are motivated and have a strong passion for films, theatre and arts can get into the film industry either through talent or by the means of formal education. Aspiring directors/producers can gain experience by assisting renowned directors or by joining school production.

Some producers assist in production houses to build a career. Apart from this a bachelor’s degree in fine arts can enhance one's knowledge and increase their skill set. Depending upon one’s career interest one can go for a bachelor’s degree or for MFA degree courses.

MFA programs may begin with production work and include courses in history, drama theory, and literature and criticism. Some of the programs guide students through the direction of a classical play, such as one by Shakespeare, and an internship with a community play ensemble. The direction of a final full-length production. These subjects help them enhance their knowledge about production and direction which is very helpful for them in the long run.

Music directors and dance directors can join some dance or music school to get some formal training in their field. With the increasing competition, formal training along with talent will help improve their skills which will ultimately increase their employability.

Types of Job Roles Filmmaker

There is no end to the number of job roles available for the filmmaker. Moreover, It totally depends upon one’s career interest, personal choice and ability to opt for a career. Some people enjoy the limelight and creative sight, therefore, opt for careers such as actors, producers, directors etc. Whereas some of them like working behind the scenes like cameraman, technicians. Check out some of the popular film industry job profiles here:

Casting Director: They are the professionals in the film industry who gather a number of actors for a given role in a film. Their role is just not limited to this, as it is necessary for them to stay in close contact with producer, director and writer to understand and get an idea of the type of person a given role calls for. As a casting director, it is your responsibility to meet with individuals and shortlist and select the best candidates suitable for the role. They are one of the most important people as they help identify the right actors for the right role which is the basic need of any film. They say- A foundation of a great film is a great actor.

Dancing Director/Choreographer: They are responsible to oversee the production of a dance performance in the film. Their job is to hire dancers, choreographers, run rehearsals, choreograph a song etc. No formal education is required in the respective field but with increasing competition, some formal training or a bachelor’s degree in the same can help one establish their career.

Film Director: They are referred to as the godfather of the film as it is their vision or creative that gets made into a film. Film directors are responsible for multiple job roles, from hiring talents, selecting a script to manage the work of crew and casts, to oversee the work of costume designers to actors to makeup artists. There is a lot taken care by film directors. Rather than a formal degree in this field, a film director must have creativity, interpersonal skills, communication skills and critical thinking to excel in this field.

Film Producer: A film producer is a person who oversees the production of the film. Their main job is to arrange finances for the film. They are with the film from its start once accepted, they secure funding and resources for creating the film.They work with directors and production staff to plan and schedule the filming of the movie. After filming is complete, the producer works with the post-production crew to polish the film. The final stages include screening the movie with test audiences, developing a promotional campaign with advertising and marketing firms, and creating a business plan for distribution is what a film producer does.

Music Director: Their job role is to select music to perform, arrange performances and work with musicians as per the needs of the films. They lead rehearsals and performances. They are often also responsible for many of the administrative details of leading the musical group. Music Directors work closely with directors and producers to understand the demand of the film and deliver as per the same.

Theatre Director: Theatre directors are responsible for many aspects of staging a play, from casting to costumes to performances. They have an extensive knowledge of different, plays, their background, histories etc. Theatre directors who have a bachelor’s degree in the field like literature, history, have an edge over those who don’t

Screenwriter: The screenwriter is the person who writes the script of the film. They create the dialogue, the characters and the storyline of a movie script. The screenwriter is often the most essential person in film production because no movie can start without the script and it is the base of any film.

Planning to choose Filmmaker as your career?
Pay Scale/Salary of Filmmaker
There are no specific salaries or pay packages in the film industry. Well known and renowned music directors, directors, producers, casting directors make a lot of money as compared to the one who has just started their careers.

Books & Study Material to Become Filmmaker
There are no such books which can help you build a career as a filmmaker. However, reading inspirational books, histories, plays can enhance the knowledge of film directors and theatre directors. Filmmaking is a career where you learn more by doing practical work or by assisting some director or producer as it provides you with the exposure and experience which is the most needed in this field.

Pros of becoming a Filmmaker
Film industry provides you with an opportunity to explore your creative sight. You will have the freedom to express yourself and live out your talent! Some people can only dream about it, but you can make a living at it.
Most of the people in the film industry have ambitions, dreams, and mindsets similar to yours. So if filmmaking is your passion, you can connect with like-minded people who share the dream of telling stories and artistically expressing themselves.
One of the best thing about being a part of the film industry is the interesting environment and experiences you get to live. Apart from this, one also gets to travel the world.
Cons of becoming a Filmmaker
At a start of the career in the film industry, you tend to do a lot of odd jobs. Basically, you do everything that no one else wants to do. This situation can get quite frustrating since interns are usually underpaid.
There are tons of passionate artists out there, but no one can guarantee that you will be successful. The truth is that it takes a lot of talent and luck to climb up the career ladder.
You will get to face a lot of criticism in this industry but the tip is to keep going and follow your dreams.
Top Colleges to pursue career as Filmmaker


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Madison’s Answer

There are numerous degrees you can get to be in the film industry. To be a director, you can get a Bachelor's Degree in Film and Cinema. If you want to work with cameras, look toward a degree in Cinematography or Film and Media. I hope that helps!
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Hank’s Answer

Of course "Director" and "Producer" are pretty different career paths.

But here's the thing: If you go to film school to become a director, your view of everything is going to be skewed. Far better may be to get a degree in something which has both broad and deep general knowledge accompanied by a skill you can make money with in the event you don't end up working as a director every day of your life. Which, by the way, is EVERY director's fate.

The less you know, the less you've experienced, and the more narrow your focus, the less you can bring to the art of directing. Understanding people, being able to tell a story, and becoming confident enough to "let go," are all necessary skills for a successful director.

It's not just shouting, "Action!"

Hank recommends the following next steps:

Figure out what you would do if you did not become a director (or producer).
Learn how to do the above well.
Apprentice yourself to film and/or TV productions -- you will learn more from watching them than studying them.
Become a "people person" if you're not already -- or at least try.
There's a whole DVD series out there on "Directors." Have a look.