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Film Director

Film directors develop an artistic vision for a film production. They work with cast, crew, and producers to realize that vision.

Also Known As

Director - Theatre and Film, Motion Picture Director

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5131.2: Directors

2006 NOC-S

  • F031: Producers, Directors, Choreographers and Related Occupations

2011 NOC

  • 5131: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations

2016 NOC

  • 5131: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations

2021 NOC

  • 51120: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations

2023 OaSIS

  • 51120.02: Directors
Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Film directors make stories come alive on screen. They need a strong sense of the story they are telling, to shape and integrate each project into a clear artistic whole.

Documentary directors work with a relatively small crew on location. In small budget films, they may write, edit, and produce the film as well as direct it. They likely work with a crew of 2 people: a cinematographer or camera operator, and a sound recordist.

Dramatic directors work with a larger group of people. They work with actors to develop and guide their performances. They also work with producers and crew members to create the look and feel of a project. They oversee the project during all 3 phases of production:

  • Pre-production: planning and preparation before filming starts
  • Production: filming and capturing audio
  • Post-production: editing, sound design, adding music and visual effects, and others

During pre-production, directors consult with producers about hiring crew members such as:

During this phase, directors also:

  • Meet with producers, screenwriters, cast, and crew to discuss shots and changes to the script
  • Work with the cinematographer, production designer, and storyboard artists to create or approve storyboards
  • Work with the production designer to develop the look of the production including such things as locations, sets, props, and costumes
  • Identify needed special effects, stunts, visual effects (VFX), and additional elements
  • Consult with producers, casting directors, and other stakeholders about hiring actors and holding auditions for speaking parts
  • Work with lead actors to develop their characters and a shared understanding of the overall story
  • Consult with the cinematographer, production designer, editor, and costume designer about desired moods, textures, contrasts, dominant colours, and plan shots
  • Work with the line producer or production manager to prepare a working budget and shooting schedule
  • Work with the first assistant director to manage daily and weekly production

During production, dramatic directors work closely with actors and crew members. For each shot setup, film directors:

  • Communicate the approach they want for the scene
  • Explain their preferred camera coverage
  • Comment on actor characterization
  • Explain blocking and camera movement

It is common to rehearse the scene once or twice before shooting the first take.

Because dramatic films are shot out of sequence, directors must keep the overall story in mind while working on individual shots, scenes, and sequences. When they plan camera coverage, they keep the final edit in mind. They make sure that they’ve captured enough material so that even after editing, the can still realize their overall vision.

During post-production, directors may work with producers, film editors, composers, VFX artists, and sound editors to complete the film. If automated dialogue replacement (ADR) is necessary, directors may need to work with actors in a recording studio to re-record dialogue.

With feature films, directors may help promote the project before it is released. This may involve touring major cities and participating in media interviews, talk shows, and other public appearances.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Film directors often work long and irregular hours. They may work outdoors in all kinds of weather, or indoors.

Some parts of the job can be stressful. Directors may need to deal with rejection, uncertainty, time pressures, budget constraints, multiple crew leads and actors, and creative issues.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Film directors need:

  • A willingness to take risks
  • A willingness to accept responsibility for creative decisions
  • Communication skills to work well with producers, performers, artists, and technicians
  • Networking skills
  • Time-management skills
  • Leadership skills
  • An ability to pitch ideas and gain buy-in from others
  • An ability to earn respect and trust
  • An ability to imagine the finished product
  • An ability to communicate their vision to others

They should enjoy:

  • Being innovative
  • Coordinating the work of others
  • Dealing with people

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations

2016 NOC: 5131

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 30 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Jun 02, 2022 and May 28, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Attention to detail
Work under pressure
Tasks: Co-ordinate and direct the photography of production
Tasks: Supervise staff or team
Tasks: Organize and co-ordinate production
Tasks: Edit motion picture film and arrange film segments into sequences
Construction Specialization: Effective interpersonal skills
Tasks: Interpret scripts, select the cast and advise in the interpretation and delivery of the performance
Tasks: Plan, organize and direct the artistic aspects of production
Construction Specialization: Organized
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

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

Film directors need a good understanding of visual storytelling, including:

  • Photography
  • Lighting
  • Acting
  • Editing
  • Visual effects

Familiarity with the techniques and practices of theatrical arts and cinematic conventions is helpful. Formal training in filmmaking should include theory, history, and hands-on experience in production. This experience can help them gain an understanding of all areas of production, including a basic understanding of the acting process. They need to know the common challenges and realities of various crew departments.


To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Additional Information

These organizations in Alberta offer courses, workshops, or residencies for directors:

There are other training options for directors in Canada, including:

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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 programs
  • Feature films
  • Training and promotional films
  • Shorts
  • Animation

The film industry is highly competitive. Films are expensive to make so producers rarely hire inexperienced directors.

Aspiring directors usually need years of related experience before being given full responsibility to direct a film. To gain experience and build their reputations, they may apply for arts grants. They use these to produce their own projects, which they then enter in film festivals. Aspiring filmmakers may find help getting equipment and training from organizations such as:

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5131: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations occupational group, 76.8% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5131: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.7% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 60 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Film directors’ incomes vary considerably from one director to another and from one year to another. Their incomes depend on their reputation and the stage they’re at in their career.

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 (DGC) guidelines may apply.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations

2016 NOC: 5131
Average Wage
$39.29
Per Hour
Average Salary
$78,713.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.6
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5131 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $17.44 $37.96 $31.41 $32.00
Overall $20.89 $46.61 $39.29 $43.14
Top $26.84 $50.35 $42.21 $44.77

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Information, Culture, Recreation
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
36%
36%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
15%
15%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
0%
0%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Humanities and Languages
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) website: www.csif.org

Canadian Film Centre website (CFC) website: cfccreates.com

Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC) website: www.culturalhrc.ca

Directors’ Guild of Canada (DGC) website: www.dgc.ca

EMMEDIA Gallery and Production Society website: emmedia.ca

Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta (FAVA) website: fava.ca

Film Studies Association of Canada (FSAC) website: www.filmstudies.ca

National Film Board of Canada (NFB) website: www.nfb.ca

National Screen Institute (NSI) website: nsi-canada.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2024. 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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