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Occupational Profile

Film Director

Film directors develop an artistic vision for a film production and work with others to implement that vision. 

  • Avg. Salary $55,709.00
  • Avg. Wage $34.45
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook Up
  • Employed 1,800
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Motion Picture Director, Director - Theatre and Film

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

70%
70%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Film Director is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Directors
NOC code: 5131.2
INNOVATIVE

Interest in studying scripts to determine artistic interpretations; and in co-ordinating the activities of production staff to develop desired effects

DIRECTIVE

Interest in co-ordinating the activities of performers, extras and production personnel; and in advising them on the interpretation and delivery of performances, and in conferring with crew and specialists throughout production and post-production to achieve desired presentations

SOCIAL

Interest in instructing cast members and production personnel to develop and achieve presentations that reflect desired artistic interpretations

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Film directors are responsible for making shows come alive on screen. They may work in genres such as feature films, television programs, documentaries, training and promotional films, shorts and animation.

Documentary directors work with a relatively small crew on location. In small budget productions, they may write and produce the film as well as direct it, and work with a crew of two people: a camera operator and a sound engineer.

Dramatic directors work with actors to get the best possible performance from them. Before production begins, they:

  • meet with producers and screenwriters to discuss shots and changes to the script
  • work with the art director to create or approve storyboards
  • identify needed sets, props, costumes and locations
  • consult with producers about hiring crew members (for example, an art director, cinematographer, costume designer, production co-ordinator)
  • consult with producers and casting directors about hiring cast members, holding auditions for speaking parts and contracting larger roles to actors considered right for the part
  • consult with the cinematographer about desired mood, texture, contrasts and dominant colour and plan shots
  • prepare a working budget and shooting schedule.

During production, dramatic directors work closely with actors and crew members. For each shot, film directors communicate the approach they want for the scene, comment on characterization, explain the blocking and perhaps run through the scene once or twice before shooting the first take.

At the end of each day of shooting, directors and producers view the rushes (the day's work on film) to check the work in progress and make changes in future shoots. Because dramatic films are shot out of sequence, directors must visualize the "through line" of the story and judge if the work is on track.

After filming is finished, directors may collaborate with producers, film editors, composers and sound editors as the film is edited and the soundtrack added. On feature films, directors may be asked to help promote films before they are released. This may involve touring major cities and participating in media interviews, talk shows and other public appearances.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Hours of work for film directors often are long and irregular. They may work indoors or outdoors in all kinds of weather. Dealing with time pressures, budget limitations and creative responsibilities can be stressful.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Film directors need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to command respect
  • the ability to visualize a finished product
  • the communication and interpersonal skills required to work effectively with performers, artists and technicians, and to develop a network of supporters and contacts
  • a willingness to accept artistic, psychological and emotional risks
  • the ability to work long days 
  • good time management skills.

They should enjoy being innovative, controlling and co-ordinating the work of others, and dealing with people.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

There are no standard education requirements for film directors but most have related post-secondary education and experience. Many are experienced actors, editors or writers. (Sometimes, they wrote the film they are directing.) For information about related education options, see the Actor and Creative Writer occupational profiles.

Film directors need a good understanding of visual storytelling, photography and lighting as they relate to filmmaking. Formal training in filmmaking also should include theory, history and hands on experience in production.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Concordia University of Edmonton

Grant MacEwan University

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

During the summer months, Banff Centre for the Arts offers a variety of courses, workshops and residencies designed for people who already have some related education or experience. The National Screen Institute in Edmonton also offers training opportunities and workshops for individuals who have some professional experience in film direction, production or writing. The Film and Video Arts Society periodically offers courses in film directing and video directing. 

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Film directors generally are hired on a contract basis to direct:

  • government training films or videos
  • educational films or videos
  • commercials
  • music and other videos
  • travelogues
  • nature films
  • documentaries
  • television dramas
  • feature films.

The film industry is highly competitive and films are expensive to produce so producers are reluctant to hire inexperienced directors. Many years of related experience usually are required before aspiring directors are given full responsibility for directing a film. To gain experience, they may produce projects themselves by financing them personally or through arts grants, and enter their work in film festivals to build their reputations. Organizations such as the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers and Emmedia Gallery and Production Society may help provide equipment and training for aspiring filmmakers.

Film directors are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5131: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations. In Alberta, 89% of people employed in this classification work in the Information, Culture and Recreation (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Information, Culture and Recreation industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 1,800 Albertans are employed in the Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.2% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 40 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As filmdirectors form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for film directors.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Film directors' incomes vary considerably from one director to another and from one year to another depending on the director's reputation and the economy. Some film directors work at other jobs and finance their own projects. Directors who work on a contract basis negotiate their fees before production begins. In some cases, Directors' Guild of Canada guidelines may apply.

Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations
NOC code: 5131

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $37.58 $29.62 $23.39
Overall $19.23 $44.04 $34.45 $28.59
Top $20.00 $59.46 $38.70 $31.19

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

70%
70%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

14%
14%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

N/A

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Drama
    • Visual Arts
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Media, Design and Communication Arts
    • Communication Technology
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Humanities and Languages
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers website: www.csif.org

Canadian Film Centre website: www.cfccreates.com

Cultural Human Resources Council website: www.culturalhrc.ca

Directors' Guild of Canada website: www.dgc.ca

Emmedia Gallery and Production Society website: www.emmedia.ca

Film and Video Arts Society website: www.fava.ca

Film Studies Association of Canada website: www.filmstudies.ca

National Film Board of Canada website: www.nfb.ca

National Screen Institute website: www.nsi-canada.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Jun 01, 2009. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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