What does a Director do? Where does a Director work? ACR takes a look:
Directors help create films, television shows, videos, live theater, animated productions, and other performing arts productions by supervising actors, camera crews and other staff. In a nutshell, the director “directs” the entire production. In some cases, the director is also the creator of the project, so he may provide the vision and determine the visual style of the production. If the director has not already written the piece, he will work closely with the filmmaker, screenwriter, designers, and producers to come up with a final design and direction for the piece before production begins.
Directors have a lot of responsibility. The final product is largely in their hands and it must be delivered according to clients’ desires. If the piece is the directors own creation (from screenplay to final product), he still has to answer to investors, meaning, the final product must be good enough to turn a profit. In addition to producing a film, television series, commercial, or video that sells, directors must also handle management, budgeting, scheduling, hiring, and firing.
Directors work for film production, television, and animation studios, as well as theaters, gaming companies, advertising agencies, and more. However, many directors work on a project to project basis as independent contractors.
Director salaries vary greatly based on experience, the size and type of company, location, production, and many other factors. According to several Bureau of Labor Statistics reports updated between January and April 2014, directors average a mean annual wage of $90,240 per year and a median wage of $69,480 to $71,350 per year. The lowest earners averaged $31,650 per year and the highest earners averaged $187,040 per year.
It is important to note that some industries offer higher salaries than others (the average salary for film industry directors is $94,110 per year) and just about every famous film director earns millions per year. This includes famous animation directors. Animation directors such as Ron Clements (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid), John Musker (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid), and Tim Burton (A Nightmare Before Christmas) and live-action filmmakers/directors Steven Spielberg and Jerry Bruckheimer are just a few examples.
Becoming a Director
Directors are extremely creative, driven, disciplined, focused, and intense. They are elite members of the most competitive industry in the world. The hours are long and grueling, so stamina is at the top of the list of requirements to make it in this field. Rising to the top is quite difficult, so if you’re interested in becoming a successful director, make sure you have all of the qualities listed above—for starters.
In addition to creativity, drive, and stamina, many directors have bachelor’s degree or higher in film, art, or drama. Directors in the animation industry may have a degree in animation, computer animation, fine art or other related degree. Directors typically have a proven track record in the industry and have worked in it for years. They also have proven leadership abilities and advanced business and financial skills.
Directors rarely graduate from college and go right into directing. They might work their way through various departments for years before catching a break.
Job Trends for Directors
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for directors (and producers) is expected to increase by three percent for the 2012-2022 decade. Although this will increase the talent pool from 103,500 to 106,400 by 2022, job growth for directors (and producers) is still slower than average for all occupations. However, according to the Bureau, “some job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for more movies and television shows,” an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films, and “new content delivery methods, such as mobile and online TV, which may lead to more work opportunities for producers and directors in the future.”
While large, well-funded venues in big cities will provide more opportunities for theater directors, “small- and medium-sized theaters may see slower job growth because many of those theaters have difficulty finding funding as the number of performances decline,” says the Bureau.
Awesome Animation Fact: Speaking of famous directors/filmmakers and their million dollar salaries: did you know that Walt Disney mortgaged his house for the $1.5 million budget for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? While this is still a pretty penny today, it was a colossal amount of money in 1937. Fortunately for Mr. Disney, when adjusted for inflation, Snow White still ranks as the top grossing animated film of all-time.