Movie Director: What Do They Do?

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Movie directors are one of the most important roles in the film industry. From developing the story to making the final cut, a director has the ability to shape the story and bring it to life on the big screen. They are responsible for casting, shooting, and post-production of a film, as well as making sure that all the elements are brought together to create an engaging and entertaining project.

In this article, we’ll explore the role of a movie director, and some of the different tasks they fulfill in the film-making process:

What is a movie director

Definition of a Movie Director

A movie director is a key creative element in the making of a film. These professionals are responsible for realizing the artistic vision of the script, overseeing all aspects of filmmaking from pre-production through post-production.

Movie directors precisely control every element of production to capture and shape the overall tone, style, and storytelling arc for their films. Movie directors have a strong artistic eye and understand how to visually communicate story elements with careful use of editing, design elements, camera angles, and music. They also have exceptional leadership skills to motivate actors and crew members towards producing a successful film.

The role requires directors to constantly assess new ideas for spiritual scenes and problem solve on set with technical difficulties or unanticipated occurrences. From casting choices to tone, directors are expected not just to direct but also coach actors on how they should deliver their lines or move throughout a scene in order to achieve everything that is required by the story arc.


Overall, movie directors simultaneously must be able to empathize but also remain objective when faced with any on set difficulty that could turn into a potential obstacle in attaining the required results desired by scriptwriter(s), producer(s) or investors investing in the production. In this way, movie directing combines both creativity and management skills as delivering desired results also involves:

  • managing budgetary considerations
  • adhering to schedule milestones secured by contractual agreements at times prearranged prior commencement of filming process itself.


As a movie director, pre-production is a critical stage of the filmmaking process. This is when the director must develop the story and the script for the film. The director must also scout for possible locations and roles, coordinate casting and rehearsals, and organize any necessary props, costumes, and special effects. The work during pre-production is essential for creating a successful film.

Writing the Script

Writing a movie script is a crucial part of the pre-production process. Movie directors typically work closely with their writing team to craft the story for their film. While the director has ultimate authority over what makes it into the final cut, the first draft of any script usually begins with a discussion between him and someone responsible for producing and developing ideas, such as a screenwriter.

The director and his team need to be knowledgeable about genre conventions, story structure, character development, dialogue and subtext so they can create an effective narrative that meets all requirements. The initial draft of a script often goes through multiple revisions and rewrites before it reaches shooting readiness.

Once finalized, the next step depends on the type of film being produced. For television series or movies produced in two parts or more (such as action films), a shooting script is written which breaks down scenes by setting, actors involved and props needed for each scene–this type of script must also clearly outline camera angles in order to make production smoother. For movies shot in one take (such as drama films), an unstructured script is often used which covers broad strokes but leaves room for improvisation on set where necessary.

Getting started with your own stop motion storyboards

Subscribe to our newsletter and get your free download with three storyboards. Get started with bringing your stories alive!

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

Casting the Actors

Casting actors for a film or television project is a key step in the pre-production process. The Director, Producer, Casting Director and in some cases an Authorized Agent perform the task of selecting actors for the project. When casting a production, it is important to make sure that actors meet certain criteria; most importantly, they must fit the role they are playing both physically and emotionally. Additionally, they must possess acting ability that meets industry standards and be willing to work within any budgetary constraints.

The casting process typically starts with an audition where actors read lines from the script out loud. This allows the directors to get an idea of how each individual actor might fit into their project. Depending on the size of the production, auditions may take place in person or remotely via video or phone call. Once these initial auditions have taken place, producers may then call certain actors back in for callback sessions where they can read lines with other cast members and learn more about their choices for each role.

At this point in time, it is also important to consider any relevant legal obligations associated with hiring professional performers such as:

  • Recording any necessary contracts
  • Confirming work permits as needed (for productions shooting outside of the country)

By ensuring all necessary steps along this process have been taken prior to shooting can alleviate any potential issues that could delay or disrupt a project down the line when decisions need to be made quickly during filming or editing processes.

Selecting the Crew

The entire production team consists of several key roles, including producers and directors, as well as many supporting members, such as actors and crew members. As a movie director, it is your responsibility to oversee the entire movie production process and ensure that everything runs smoothly.

In order to do so, you must first select a cast and crew for your project. When selecting crew for your movie project, you should consider a range of attributes including:

  • Experience in the film industry;
  • Desired skills and suitability for the role;
  • Availability;
  • Teamwork ability;
  • Chemistry with other team members;
  • Creativity; and
  • Most importantly, budgets.

With so many variables to consider when selecting your production crew, it is important that you develop an efficient selection process that allows you to make an informed decision.

Once you have chosen your cast and crew for the project, it is essential that communication be maintained throughout pre-production, shooting days and post-production. As director of the project you must ensure that everyone understands their task at hand – ensuring everyone remains on schedule while providing creative direction when needed. It can also be beneficial to encourage open dialogue between team members in order to facilitate problem solving in a timely fashion.


A movie director’s job is to take a script, bring it to life and guide actors and crew during the production. Directors are responsible for the artistic choices of the production, from casting to storytelling to editing and more. They direct the production by interpreting a script, creating shots and edits and overseeing the technical crew and actors. Additionally, they must ensure the film meets the production team’s and studio’s budget and timeline.

Let’s explore the different roles of a movie director during production:

Directing the Actors

The director is the one who sets the vision for the movie, and their primary responsibility is guiding the actors in portraying the characters they are playing. The director will usually tell them what they should be feeling, saying and doing – this allows actors to interpret that direction and develop a more complete performance. A director takes on many roles: mentor, coach and problem solver. They must always remain open to working with actors and make sure that they are offering positive reinforcements while remaining focused on getting high-quality performances from all of their cast members.

Directors also direct throughout the entire production process, from initial casting calls to rehearsals to camera settings and lighting design. This ensures that all elements work together in harmony to bring out truly beautiful performances from cast members. Additionally, directors will adjust blocking of scenes based on how characters interact with other characters or locations during a given scene for maximum effect. Every detail has an important role in how well each scene functions, so it’s up to directors to spot what works best from a holistic perspective.

Setting up the Shots

Once the initial plans for the movie have been made, a director will begin setting up shots. A shot is an individual view that is recorded as part of a sequence. The director will decide on the size, angle, and movement of each shot along with how it should be framed and what should appear in it. They will also tell the cinematographer or camera operator where to put their camera for each shot.

The director will choreograph each scene so there are smooth transitions between shots. They won’t just focus on the immediate action but think about how each shot interacts with its surroundings. This skillful composition maximizes the dramatic effect created by various angles and movements throughout a scene.

The director will prepare extensively before filming begins and then watch closely as it progresses to make sure that every take is executed precisely as planned. Every movement, sound, pause and change of direction should be carefully coordinated to create a certain feeling or atmosphere in viewers when watching at home later on. The final result desired is a work of art that tells an unforgettable story!

Working with the Crew

When a director is working with the crew, it is important for them to know what each role entails and how to communicate effectively with each department. The director should begin by understanding how the production team works together and what responsibilities each person has. As an example, the key departments on a movie set include:

  • Production Design – Responsible for creating the visual world of the film and coordinating art direction, sets, locations, and on-set dressing
  • Cinematography – Responsible for planning camera angles, movements, lens selection, lighting design
  • Editing – Responsible for assembling the shots into sequences that convey the story and themes of the film
  • Music & Sound Design – Responsible for finding or creating appropriate musical pieces to accompany certain scenes as well as designing sound effects
  • Costuming & Makeup – Responsible for designing wardrobe and makeup looks that align with the character’s purpose in any given scene.

The director should also be aware of all of these individual roles as well as their collective importance for combining all parts into a cohesive whole. Lastly, it is essential that directors create an environment on set that nurtures collaboration between disciplines—when actors have support from all departments they are better able to bring life to their characters.


Post-production is the final phase of a movie director’s job. It involves putting together the various audio and visual elements used in a film in order to create the final product. This includes editing the footage, adding special effects, composing music and sound effects, and ultimately creating the final cut. As a movie director, it is important to understand all aspects of post-production in order to create a successful and well-crafted movie.

Editing the Film

Once filming is done and the cast and crew are wrapped, a film editor is brought in to assemble the footage into the order it was intended to be, as directed by the director. This is when they begin putting together the movie in a very literal sense, by physically piecing together each shot taken on location or set so that it progresses in a logical order. They use specialized editing software on an editing system to clip, splice and arrange these transitions/cuts as desired.

The editor typically works closely with the director during this stage of production process. Depending on their arrangement, an editor may also be welcome to offer creative opinions about how to improve a scene or help deal with issues that arise from continuity errors in shooting. If one of their edits doesn’t work out as hoped for then they have plenty of leeway to go back into their edit stack and try other things until something satisfies them both.

Once finished editing, editors render down their timeline of cuts into a single master file which then gets delivered for post-production work like color grading, sound mixing/editing etc before final delivery.

Adding Special Effects

Creating special effects for a film project is one of the most important post-production techniques used in the filmmaking process. Special effects (also known as SFX) are artificially created elements added to live-action footage that are intended to create a convincing illusion of reality. Commonly used SFX techniques include animation, computer graphics, 3D modeling and compositing.

Animation can be used for a wide range of visual effects, such as creating realistic creatures or abstract animations based on mathematical equations. Animations can be hand-drawn or digitally created using software programs such as Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects. Additionally, motion capture technology allows animators to record the motion of real actors that can be used as reference material for more natural-looking characters in a scene.

Computer graphics (CG) are often used for creating photorealistic environments in an animated feature film or game environment. CG animators use software such as Autodesk Maya and Vue Infinite to create virtual environments that look almost like real life locations. These CG environments are then combined with live action shots from a movie shoot in order to create a seamless experience when watching the finished product.

Compositing is the process of combining background images with foreground elements filmed at different times or with different cameras. This technique is often used when inserting digital special effects into live action footage, or when adding CG elements into scenes featuring real actors and locations. Popular compositing programs include Adobe After Effects and Nukex Studio by Foundry Solutions Ltd., both of which give animators the tools they need to manipulate multiple layers of images and get amazing results!

Finalizing the Soundtrack

Once filming is complete and the footage has been edited and prepared for the final product, the next step is to add music and sound effects. This process starts with the movie director who works directly with a composer hired by their production team to create a score for the film. Composed soundtracks and cues can be used to create a mood from which conversations, action sequences, intense chase scenes or comedic moments can unfold. The director will work closely with both their composer and music editor (and very often in tandem) to choose which tracks will ultimately be used in the film. Music editors are responsible for trimming audio clips to precisely fit without being intrusive, creating transitions between tracks and balancing multiple layers of sound – all while maintaining an emphasis on what is happening on screen.

When an original score isn’t available or needed (as would be common in documentaries), directors may also choose licensed music to enhance certain scenes or reinforce certain motifs. This can be strategically chosen from pre-existing musical works such as old pop songs, rock ballads or classic pieces that fit naturally witin the consistency of each scene without overpowering them. In this case, a director might work closely with rights holders or licensing organizations to secure legal permission for usage within their films – fines for copyright infringement can be expensive!

Composers and/or music editors may also add foley (also known as ‘sound effects’) as needed throughout different sequences within films – from footsteps on gravel surfaces after a dark chase sequence or fireworks during patriotic celebrations; these fine-tuned audio separations help give life and realism to scenarios that must appear genuine on film screens from around the world!


In conclusion, directing a movie is an art form that has developed over time and is now considered one of the most important aspects of filmmaking. A movie director is responsible for having a vision for what the film should be and communicating that vision to the actors and other departments involved in its production. Movie directors take charge of integrating all pieces into a final product that can tell a story and convey a message.

They also make decisions about camera angles, lighting, sound design, editing, and more. As such, it takes skill and creativity to be successful as a movie director.

Hi, I'm Kim, a mom and a stop-motion enthusiast with a background in media creation and web development. I've got a huge passion for drawing and animation, and now I'm diving headfirst into the stop-motion world. With my blog, I'm sharing my learnings with you guys.