Keeping it Reel

5 Skills Every Director Needs to Succeed

When you think of being a director, you may picture yourself in a canvas-backed chair, issuing instructions to a competent cast and crew. You may imagine yourself standing on a large stage in front of thousands of people, accepting an extravagant award. You may visualize yourself at the height of glory.

But right now? Right now, you are just a student with a passion for film. So how do you make your dreams a reality? How do you become the director you want to be?

Well, perfecting the five skills below is a great place to start. And you don’t need any high-tech gear or equipment to make it happen.  Let’s take a look!

1. Creativity

It can be pretty hard to identify the editor or sound designer that worked on a film, but the director? The director is usually easy to pick out. Why? Because in filmmaking, the director is the storyteller. It is the director’s voice that we hear throughout the film.

To become a brilliant director, you must learn to harness your creativity in a productive way. You must master your imagination to tell unique and original stories. If you don’t, you’ll end up with film projects that fall flat, due to a lack of distinction.


2. Communication

As a director, you will be leading your film productions. You will oversee the creative process from beginning to end, and in doing so, you will need to communicate with everyone from producers to visual effects artists. To get the best performance from your cast and crew, you must clearly and effectively express your ideas. If you are unable to do this, a part of your story may get lost, or your film may lack cohesion.


3. Decisiveness

If you are the kind of person who takes ten minutes to pick a type of candy out at the grocery store, this skill may be tough for you to master. When working as a director, you will be presented with all kinds of suggestions, ideas, and insights. And it will not be uncommon for them to interfere with or contradict your vision, or the visions of others. In these moments, it will be your duty to choose a path and stick with it.

It is often less important that you make the right decision (a right decision doesn’t always exist) and more important that you decide and move forward. If you lack decisiveness, you may end up costing your cast and crew time, effort, and resources.


4. Open-mindedness

While it will be your responsibility to make a final decision, it will also be your responsibility to keep an open mind when listening to proposals from your colleagues. Your team will most likely be filled with specialists who know their stuff. Your job is not to hinder their creativity with your vision, but rather to use their skills to tell your story in the best way possible.

If you can learn to keep an open mind, you can turn the inventive ideas of your cast and crew members into brilliantly executed aspects of your final cut.


5. Organization

You may think that being a director is all about interpreting a script and telling a story, but that’s only part of it. Directing is also about effectively managing your team to produce the best final product. Along with the skills we’ve already discussed, you need to be a king (or queen) of organization to make that happen.

As a director, you will need to know what cast members need to be where and when. You will need to know which crew members are performing what duties. And you will need to have a plan for each and every scene you shoot. To stay on top of it all, you will need to find a way to get organized and stay that way.


If you perfect the skills listed above, you’ll be on your way to becoming the kind of director you want to be. In the meantime, why not see if you’re a match for our directing program? You can click below to take our degree emphases quiz. After answering a few short questions, you’ll be paired with one of our eight film emphases based on your personality and interests.

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This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.

Columbia College Hollywood is excited to announce TWO new scholarships! Receive awards of up to $5,000 for the 2021 Summer Scholarship for Storytellers and up to $18,950 for the CCH Career Accelerator Scholarship.

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