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Friday, July 2, 2010

Wanna be a..... Director

“This isn’t personal, Kay. This is business”, Michael Corleone - The Godfather , (1972)

Wanna be a..... Director

Want be part of the glamour but don’t know what to do.? Can’t make up your mind if you want to be a Director or a Cinematographer or a Music Director... read on as I give you an insight which no film school will ever tell you. This blog is on if you Wanna be Director.  Most of this is based on my experience in India and figures would vary as time passes.

POST: Director


A Director is the leader of the project mainly in terms of vision and direction. He is responsible for decision making and it’s his style and effort that shows in the end. He is responsible for the acting, style of shoot, the technical direction etc. The director is the one who takes it from the story to the screen, he also participates in choosing the team, at least that of the key crew,(mainly the head of the departments) also the cast gets finalised only after the director’s approval. He has meetings with head of almost all departments before the film goes into production and also has rehearsals with the actors sometimes (if time is available) He uses scripts, storyboards, references when meeting with these departments to show and explain to the team what he feels the film should look and feel like.
Lots of time the director becomes or feels like an answering machine. A yes or no, eg, when costumes come back after the briefing with references then it’s the director who says yes or no to colours, material and so on and so forth. Same goes with all other departments. The director has also to work with the post team, influencing the grade of the film, with the editor to check for cuts and the flow of the story etc.


Anyone with a vision can become a director, there are people who become directors based on experience, some on qualification, and some just by the influence they bring. 
Experience can be gained by working closely with good and bad directors, working with different people show you different styles of working, also different production houses also function differently, so it helps in choosing a way that suits your style and also one that is right for production. 
For people who are new to the industry and wants to be part of it, there are various courses that one could take up  to learn the art. These days one can graduate with a BMM degree – Bachelors in Mass Media, this is a 3 year course and teaches you the basics of all media related industries including journalism, market research. Although this course does not prepare you for direction, it gives you a overall about media. There are also government run institutes like the F.T.I.I. - and private ones that offer specialised and general courses for those who have already done their graduation. One could also choose from courses abroad like 

You could also check these site’s out which has a list of schools from across the world

The way to choose the best schools to learn is check the course duration, the syllabus, topics covered, the teachers, their real life experience with film making, what are the practical’s the course offers, the library, and of course the fees, if one is leaving their country then place to stay and those expenses of upkeep also have to be kept in mind while choosing what’s best for you.  
If you trying to get through this industry then you better hope that you come from  a family with a lot of influence in the industry or are just plain rich to finance your ventures.


Depending on experience and how quickly he can make decisions the time spent by directors at work may vary. During the shooting phase the director almost always is there from the start to end. (except during pre light) the time and effort of Pre and post varies. 

Documentary directors = since a lot of research goes into documentary’s lots of time the research time is the same as shoot as usually the documentaries is made up of findings and interviews which are usually shot at the first attempt. In other words the amount of time spent would be equal to the passion towards the subject.  

Daily soap / Serials = minimum time few hours a day ranging from 2-6 hours during the planning days, and during shoot depending of the availability of actors and locations the time on shoot days are the normal one and half shift, to even 2 shifts sometimes.  

News (non news episodes) / Mtv kind of serials (where the director and producer are the same person) = usually full days ranging from 8 – 12 hours or even more, most f the times these are hired employees so office timings would apply,  the shoot timings are generally ranging from one shift to 2 shifts.

Promos and Advertising = depending on the team provided and the quickness at which the director takes decisions’ time spent could be ranging from 8 – 12 hours to sometimes even 20 hours if things don’t fall in place in pre (especially just before PPM’s and shoot days). During shoot which usually lasts 2- 4 days generally, it’s a similar one and half to 2 shifts.

Features = depending on the time spent in Pre production the director would give that much of time per day. Since pre in feature films usually take months the director usually doesn’t need to kill himself at office every day, time spent could be ranging from 2-4 hours on a average to 6-8 hours on some days. Most of these are time spent in meetings. Shoot lasts sometimes for months, and mostly its the standard one and half shift per day.


Documentary Directors – depending on if it is commissioned or if it is being done out of passion one could make nothing to a few thousands. Documentary’s are rarely very profitable monetarily at least. The commissioned ones, at least some of them do make a decent amount.

Daily soap / Serials – directors here get paid per episode usually, though some do get monthly salaries. Money ranges from 10,000 Rs per episode to 25,000 Rs per episode could go up to 80k approximately which is mostly for weeklies. So on a average it could range between 40k – 80K for beginners to 80K – 4lacks per month as experience increases.

News / Mtv kind of serials – here the amount of money the director makes is in the hands of the director himself, especially if he is a freelancer and not on pay roll. What generally happens is a budget is given to the director and the amount he saves is up to the way he plans and makes deals with the crew they are hiring.

Promos and Advertising – the money made here depends on the deal made with the producer, the two ways are the director chargers a fee for the project (usually when the director is a freelancer or a beginner) or a percentage of the profit. In the first case a director could make 1 to 2 lacks per day of shoot or a higher deal as agreed between him and the producers. Sometimes the deal also works in percentages of total budget, 2% - 15% of the figure usually.  As far as percentages go a beginner could make anywhere between 10% - 15% and this could go up to 60% - 80% as experience and demand goes up.  

Features – experience plays a huge role in the figure that a director makes. A first time director could make 5- 9 lacks for the film and as experience and hits come his way the figures could go up and there is no end figure that one could say he could make.


The director is the captain of the ship and all are the crew that get hired to work for him. The immediate people who report to him is the direction team which is made up of DA’s and AD’s. The DA – Director’s Assistant sometimes also doubles up as a assistant director, and the number of assistants hired depends on the budget so ranging from 2 – even 7 and 8. The rest of the crew are Production and their team, line prouder and his local team, DOP and his team, camera, lights, grips, gaffer, special equipment like crane or a Milo, costume’s, hair and make, stunts team, VFX team, transport, caterers, food stylists, and the list goes on and on. The hiring of these are obviously based on requirement.

So now that you know what it is about being a director you can decide if you want to be one or specialise in some other department. Remember a director like any sportsperson is only as good as his last film, so if you have the talent for it I would say go for it and all the best.

Auggieism:- What do you call a loyal Auggie... . 
Ans:- Doggie..

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