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Film Director

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

  • Avg. Salary $67,553.00
  • Avg. Wage $33.86
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 2,300
  • In Demand Lower
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: Directors (5131.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Producers, Directors, Choreographers and Related Occupations (F031) 
  • 2011 NOC: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations (5131) 
  • 2016 NOC: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations (5131) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Film Director is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).

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


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


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

Updated Mar 31, 2017

Film directors make stories 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 films, they may write and produce the film as well as direct it. They likely work with a crew of 2 people: a camera operator and a sound engineer.

Dramatic directors work with actors to get the best 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, camera operator or 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, directors and producers view the rushes (the day’s work on the 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 whether the work is on track.

After filming finishes, directors may work with producers, film editors, composers and sound editors as the film is edited and the soundtrack added. On feature films, directors may 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 Mar 31, 2017

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, budgets and creative aspects of the job can be stressful.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Film directors need:

  • communication skills to work well with performers, artists and technicians, and build a network of supporters and contacts
  • a willingness to take risks
  • time management skills
  • an ability to command respect
  • an ability to imagine the finished product
  • an ability to work long days

They should enjoy being innovative, coordinating the work of others, and dealing with people.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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 and Creativity offers a variety of courses, workshops and residencies designed for people who have some related education or experience. The National Screen Institute also offers training opportunities and workshops for individuals with professional experience in film direction, production or writing. The Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta (FAVA) and Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) periodically offer courses in film and video directing.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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. 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. Organizations such as the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) 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 [pdf] 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)
  • size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5131: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2017

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 (DGC) guidelines may apply.

Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations

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
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $36.80 $27.59 $26.87
Overall $15.00 $45.67 $33.86 $34.70
Top $17.00 $47.40 $35.56 $37.14

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.

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.

Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Information, Culture, Recreation
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Humanities and Languages
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) website:

Canadian Film Centre website (CFC) website:

Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC) website:

Directors’ Guild of Canada (DGC) website:

EMMEDIA Gallery and Production Society website:

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

Film Studies Association of Canada (FSAC) website:

National Film Board of Canada (NFB) website:

National Screen Institute (NSI) website:

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

Updated Mar 31, 2017. 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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