Could You Work as a Film or Video Director-For-Hire Today?
- What does it take?
- Can you break a script into scene beats by doing a director’s script analysis?
- Can you create a story-motivated shooting plan?
- Do you know how to block actors to enhance relationships?
- Do you know how to deal with a moving 180-degree line?
Don’t worry if the answer to any of these is no. These are procedures that can be taught.
The most important question is – Do you love using cameras to tell stories?
I’ve made a good living making independent films, corporate videos and television commercials. Now, I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned.
If you’re still reading this blog post, I suspect the idea of getting paid to make movies intrigues you. And if you’re saying, “I don’t care about working as a director-for-hire, I want to make my own films,” I urge you to read on.
Making good films and videos is a process that takes a lot of time, people and resources. Which means if you’re making your own films, you’re selling yourself, the script and the promise to complete the film or video project in a way that pleases those who are supplying these resources. You’re asking the crew for their services, strangers for locations and benefactors for money.
Even small independent film projects require a boatload of goodwill to be successful.
Each of these people is assessing you and the smartest ones are assessing your plans and abilities. They want to know if you’ll do what you said you’re going to do. You haven’t made the film yet, thus you can’t sell the product yet. This means you only have your skills and vision to sell.
You’re always a “director-for-hire.”
Even if you’re not yet working directly for money, you’ll need to constantly make more movies because eventually you’ll need real money. I bring this up not because I think you should work on your selling skills, but because you’ll need to increase the value of the biggest and best resource you have: you. You’ll need to become a director with the skills and vision to get the job done.
So, coming around full circle, I ask you: “Can you do the job?”
It depends on if your skills match the complexity and expectations of the job and those evaluating the finished product. Can you knock it out of the park?
Like you, when I started shooting video, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Ignorance was bliss, for a while anyway. I was self-taught. I put a lot of effort into experimenting.
I half-heartedly read a few books.
I took some workshops and continued to grow.
I was in a small market and was quickly getting a good reputation. I had received Telly and Addy Awards and had made two well-received shorts, but I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be.
Or, maybe better said, I wasn’t performing at the level I wanted to be performing at. That’s when I decided to find out “what I didn’t know”. I’ve since spent ten years traveling the country interviewing filmmakers, taking courses, reading books then re-reading those same books and studying the works of masters.
And, I’m happy to say it’s not rocket science.
Directing is ninety-percent about being a craftsman and knowing the basic processes, techniques and methods needed to make a film. These can be easily taught and practiced. The other ten-percent is art and that’s a subject for a different time.
If you think this is a path for you, I encourage you to remember “we don’t know what we don’t know” and commit to discovering just what that means for you.
If you’re interested in this topic, my other blog posts, upcoming workshops and/or directing opportunities, please stay in touch by subscribing to my newsletter.