What Does a Motion Picture Director Do?

Motion Picture Directors Interpret script, conduct rehearsals, and direct activities of cast and technical crew for stage, motion pictures, television, or radio programs.

Typically, Motion Picture Directors perform these tasks every day:

    Communicate to actors the approach, characterization, and movement needed for each scene in such a way that rehearsals and takes are minimized.

    Compile cue words and phrases and cue announcers, cast members, and technicians during performances.

    Review film daily to check on work in progress and to plan for future filming.

    Plan details such as framing, composition, camera movement, sound, and actor movement for each shot or scene.

    Study and research scripts to determine how they should be directed.

    Establish pace of programs and sequences of scenes according to time requirements and cast and set accessibility.

    Confer with stage managers to arrange schedules for rehearsals, costume fittings, and sound or light development.

Most days, Motion Picture Directors perform these tasks:

    Create and approve storyboards in conjunction with art directors.

    Consult with writers, producers, or actors about script changes or "workshop" scripts, through rehearsal with writers and actors to create final drafts.

    Select plays or scripts for production and determine how material should be interpreted and performed.

    Compile scripts, program notes, and other material related to productions.

    Identify and approve equipment and elements required for productions, such as scenery, lights, props, costumes, choreography, and music.

    Confer with technical directors, managers, crew members, and writers to discuss details of production, such as photography, script, music, sets, and costumes.

    Cut and edit film or tape to integrate component parts into desired sequences.

    Supervise and coordinate the work of camera, lighting, design, and sound crew members.

    Hold auditions for parts or negotiate contracts with actors determined suitable for specific roles, working in conjunction with producers.

    Interpret stage-set diagrams to determine stage layouts and supervise placement of equipment and scenery.

    Collaborate with producers to hire crew members, such as art directors, cinematographers, and costume designers.

    Collaborate with film and sound editors during the post-production process as films are edited and soundtracks are added.

Other tasks that Motion Picture Directors perform include:

    Introduce plays and meet with audiences after shows to explain how the play was interpreted.

    Promote and market productions by giving interviews, participating in talk shows, and making other public appearances.

    Perform producers' duties, such as securing financial backing, establishing and administering budgets, and recruiting cast and crew.

    Choose settings and locations for films and determine how scenes will be shot in these settings.

    Direct live broadcasts, films and recordings, or non-broadcast programming for public entertainment or education.

    Create graphics for television broadcasts.

Other Questions about Motion Picture Directors

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How Much Experience is Needed to Become a Motion Picture Director?

A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for this occupation. For example, a person in this occupation must complete four years of college and work for several years in industry to be considered qualified.

  • 48.56% said they needed a Bachelor's Degree.

  • 23.36% said they needed a High School Diploma.

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What Subjects Should I Study to Become a Motion Picture Director?

Communications and Media

Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

English Language

Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Fine Arts

Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.

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What Tools and Technologies Are Motion Picture Directors Using to Do Their Job?

Waveform monitors

Video switchers

Video editing equipment


Hypertext markup language HTML


Adobe Systems Adobe Audition

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What Skills Should a Motion Picture Director Have?

We are still building our database of relevant skills for this occupation. Please check back eventually!

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