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How do Director's get hired?


Jonathan Bel
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I guess I never really thought about what the studio hiring process is for new directors (apart from the already influential and famous ones). So there's a hot script floating around. Then what? Does the producer go through a list of names? With so much aspiring hacks in line, how do they filter out or select the right candidate? I assume there are many factors involved.

 

Do they stalk the Tisch and USC graduates just hobbling out of school? Do they choose relatively uneducated talent with strong portfolios?

 

Just curious if studios actually have application forms along with minimum requirements or is it really just an arbitrary decision.

Edited by Jonathan Bel
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The studios don't make that many films but the short answer is that producers hire directors. Director's have agents that attempt to get them work. Most producers see a lot of movies and know who the directors are. They are always looking for new talent but also know that an experienced director can get a movie in on budget and on time which is important to the bottom line. Many directors also push scripts that they have written stipulating that "If you buy my script, I get to direct." Some directors come out of editing. Some come out of camera. Some film directors come out of TV. You have to hustle and you have to have something to show.

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Just curious if studios actually have application forms along with minimum requirements or is it really just an arbitrary decision.

 

I assume you are new to the business and young, therefore I will not make fun of you for this statement :) But taken at face value, it's funny, sorry.

 

Anyway, no, there is no such thing as an application form to direct a studio movie. I see very little data out there to support the idea that the studios use new graduates of any film school as directors. Of course there are thousands of twenty-somethings out there who may believe that a studio chief will see their amazing student film and hire them as a big time studio director. Statistically speaking....not gonna happen.

 

Yes, there are many factors involved in getting to direct any large scale film financed by the studios. If you can figure them all out let us know, there is no one prescribed course that everyone follows. Many roads up the mountain as they say.

 

The vast majority of directors these days push their own projects forward with themselves attached as director. This is a process that can take years.

 

I do know of one guy that came to the attention of the right people via a short film he made, and was given the job of directing a large scale studio movie. He just wrapped production on his second big studio film. So that's one person I know who went that route.

 

As for the big film schools like USC, yes, they produce a good number of successful people in film. They also have a lot of graduates "flipping burgers" like many other film schools.

 

R,

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Sorry I know the question seemed slightly juvenile, I'm aware there is no application process. I was just curious as to the degree of formality that goes into hiring a director for a studio project. The studio system and it's protocols are mystifying to me, especially because there is so much money at stake. When they tie an individual to a multi-million dollar endeavor, the question arises as to how much paperwork and forms have to be filled out. I've met producers who have done the application thing in the independent sector but it was more aimed at getting background information from outsiders and getting things neat and proper for legal.

 

 

 

 

I assume you are new to the business and young, therefore I will not make fun of you for this statement :) But taken at face value, it's funny, sorry.

 

Anyway, no, there is no such thing as an application form to direct a studio movie. I see very little data out there to support the idea that the studios use new graduates of any film school as directors. Of course there are thousands of twenty-somethings out there who may believe that a studio chief will see their amazing student film and hire them as a big time studio director. Statistically speaking....not gonna happen.

 

Yes, there are many factors involved in getting to direct any large scale film financed by the studios. If you can figure them all out let us know, there is no one prescribed course that everyone follows. Many roads up the mountain as they say.

 

The vast majority of directors these days push their own projects forward with themselves attached as director. This is a process that can take years.

 

I do know of one guy that came to the attention of the right people via a short film he made, and was given the job of directing a large scale studio movie. He just wrapped production on his second big studio film. So that's one person I know who went that route.

 

As for the big film schools like USC, yes, they produce a good number of successful people in film. They also have a lot of graduates "flipping burgers" like many other film schools.

 

R,

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I've met producers who have done the application thing in the independent sector but it was more aimed at getting background information from outsiders and getting things neat and proper for legal.

 

This can all be handled by a lawyer. If you want to direct a studio film you have 500 other things to worry about before you ever make it to the contract phase.

 

R,

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  • 1 year later...

Nowadays with the amount of nepotism in the film industry, 99% of the time it's about who you know and who the person you know knows for you to ever get a shot at directing a studio feature, and even then it's usually after you already have some kind of major experience in features such as a writer or an editor or cinematographer.

 

There is still the very rare specimen who gets noticed for some kind of outstanding "calling card short" that will get a shot by way of a producer who really believes in them. That is so rare that it's almost front page news worthy if it does happen.

 

My conservative estimate would be that around 98% of directors aspiring to direct studio features will probably retire from their day jobs at a ripe old age waiting for their "big break", or direct other types of productions for a living. Some, they say, will even resort to shooting wedding videos when all hope is lost....lol

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