The film industry is huge and commercially advantageous. Individuals who enter the industry dream of big houses, luxury cars, international tours and mass popularity among many other things. They may want to become an actor, lyricist, music composer, or a director, but they are all, in one or another way, smitten by the idea of working in a bulbous billion dollar industry.
The question is not about the film industry, but your skills and experience which will entitle you to a place in the industry. This makes the whole task of becoming a part of the film industry all the more difficult.
Film directors are among the most sought after individuals in the industry, with their pay scale reaching as high as that of contemporary popular actors and actresses. We already know the big shots in the Indian film industry such as Satyajit Ray, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Imtiaz Ali, Vishal Bhardwaj.
Their success story has witnessed a lot of troubles and struggles, which eventually became their driving forces guiding them towards a bright and inspiring career. You can become one, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Freelance film directors earn handsomely and have a stable and steady flow of income. However, it is to be noted that the freelance entertainment industry is huge and highly competitive, and in order to make a name in the industry, you will have to do a little bit of homework.
Here are four points you must keep in mind to become a freelance film director:
1. Job Qualifications to become a freelance film director
Lately, there has been an increase in the number of freelance directors, who have not undertaken an academic course in direction but attained skills through training and experience. While this is laudatory, keeping the competition in mind it is recommended you undertake some or other course in movie direction. Under this head, we shall learn about certain educational qualifications which may help you score big as a film director in the freelance community.
- Although no particular educational qualification is mandatory to become a film director, 10+2 qualification is still considered a basic requirement. This means there is no age bar in this case.
- Upon the successful completion of 10+2, you may enroll in various certificate and diploma courses provided by several film and drama schools in the country and beyond. These courses include certificate courses, which usually last for a year; bachelor courses, which last for three years; Diploma courses, which generally last for two years.
- Let us talk about major institutes along with the courses they offer: Film and Television Institute of India, Pune offers a three-year Post-graduate Diploma course; Satyajit Ray Films and Television Institute, Kolkata offers a three-year post-graduate course in Direction and Screenplay writing; Center for Research in Art of Film and Television, Delhi offers a one-year course; National Institute of Film and Fine Arts, Kolkata offers a Diploma course.
- If you wish to learn direction at an international school, then here are a few options: National Film and Television School, London; Lodz Film School, Poland; Norwegian Film School, National Film School of Denmark; Korean Academy of Film Arts, etc. These institutes rank among the best schools for direction in the world and hence, you may have to shell a lot of money but it is worth it!
- Mere academic qualifications will not suffice unless you have adequate experience. Seek internship under directors to gather on-field experience. The closer you work with a director, the better you understand, and this helps immensely in grooming your practical skills.
2. Necessary skills in a film director
Under this head, we shall discuss the skills necessary in a film director, and these are the skills the employers often require from an applicant. So, you should hone the following mentioned skills and then, you are guaranteed a bright freelance career as a film director.
- Writing: A director is not required to write a script, but he needs to know how one is written. Screenplays require from a director a proper understanding of the three-act structures. Many times, a director will have to amend or re-write a script to fit the story against the screenplay. This makes exemplary writing skills all the more important for film directors.
- Visual Storytelling: The essence of movie direction is the translation of the words in a script into images—visual storytelling. A script may be wonderfully written, but if the same is not being satisfactorily given a visual expression, there is no point. There is a reason why many film students begin with silent movies because such movies teach them the art of conveying actions onscreen without the need of words. If the idea, the very essence of the script, cannot be conveyed to the audience sufficiently, the visual storytelling will serve no purpose.
- Communication skills: It is impossible to make a film if you are unable to maintain coordination among actors and actresses, technical experts, editors, and other professionals on set. This makes communication skills all the more important because coordination cannot be achieved without them. As a film director, you must be able to convey your ideas and directions in the manner best comprehensible by the receptor. For example, if you are dissatisfied with the performance of an actor in any scene, you must clearly convey to him what you require from him and how he should do that part.
- Technical expertise: This goes without saying that directors are expected to be technologically savvy; they should be able to use necessary movie-making equipment efficiently. This does not mean you should know each and every bit of every equipment, but you should not be totally oblivious to their utility.
3. Work opportunities for a freelance film director
- As a freelance film director, you can work for production companies. Major production companies in India are Red Chillies, UTV Telefilms, Dharma Productions, Balaji Telefilms, Disney India. International production houses include Fox Studios, Paramount Pictures, Studio Ghibli, etc.
- You may provide freelance services to ad-making companies, which usually hire freelance directors.
- You can follow the academic route by joining institutes such as FTII.
- There are many other work opportunities available to freelance film director, and to know more about them, you may join popular freelance websites such as freelance.com, upwork.com, worknhire.com, guru.com, and linkedin.com. These freelance websites require the creation of an account, upgrade of a portfolio of skills and submission of application. While applying for the job, make sure you send a proposal stating why you are best suited for the job. This proposal must be nicely drafted and addressed in an appealing manner.
4. Pay scale
- The pay scale of a freelance film director will vary depending on a number of factors such as skills, educational qualification, and experience.
- The pay scale generally varies between Rs. 1,00,000 and 10,00,000 on an average basis.
- In the determination of the pay scale, the place of work will also be material. Those working for top-notch production houses offer lucrative assignments to its employees.
- The film industry will also determine the pay scale meaning thereby that directors working in Hollywood will generally earn more than those working in Bollywood or other regional film industry.
- You can ascertain the pay scale through connections in the film industry.