Hey, all film and media students. I’m referring to the ones who have their heart set on becoming a director. Maybe not straight away, but the end result of their ambitions involves them being the guy or gal in charge of a movie set. These types of people are probably making student films right now as we speak and they are probably pretty amazing. Seriously, if you are bored and free for a few hours, just go on Youtube and watch some student films. Some of them are pretty impressive.

However, student films will only get you so far, so when these directors turn their hand at actually getting work as a unit director or part-time writer, they will struggle to get work. Other than the insane amount of competition in that particular field, there are three good reasons producers are going to stay away from these young directors, even if they have fantastic scripts ready to be made. So if you are in this situation, pay attention, because this could help you out.


Quick! Who is your favourite director? Answers I will accept are Danny Boyle, Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch. Answers I won’t accept are Michael Bay – get out of here! OK, now it’s just us sensible people, what links those three directors and probably any other than popped into your head. They’ve all got a unique style that you can instantly recognise. You can always tell you are watching a Hitchcock or Tarantino from usually one scene – they are so damn original. And of course, any new director wants that, so they go about trying to get their own style that people will recognise in years to come.

Producers don’t want that. They want a simple director who can handle a script, get it out as fast and as smoothly as possible. Any kind of style comes when you’re a household name. Even the ones prepared to take a risk, have no idea what your style involves. For all they know you could be the kind of guy who loves shooting things in reverse and there’s no telling how the audience will take that, especially if they are just tuning into their favourite TV show. Of course, new directors are scared that when they finally adopt their style, in later years, people could go back through their filmography to find out where they all started. Then they’d find some run-of-the-mill soap or TV drama that is pretty plain and ordinary. No famous director has that.

Well, actually…

That is an episode of ER, directed by Quentin Tarantino. Don’t get me wrong, it is some pretty damn good directing, but it’s nothing quintessentially Tarantino. Also, Guy Ritchie started on music videos. Basically, what I am saying is, don’t worry about a unique footprint until later. Get the work, become a name for yourself and then work out how you are going to leave your mark on cinema.


As someone who has his eyes set on the movie business, a lot of your friends will jump to the conclusion that you will be in the position to cast them from the get-go. That will not be the case, unless a lottery win is involved somewhere. This is a fair enough request from some friends that actually want to be a part of the movie business. If I ever get asked if I know any good camera men or a little-known actor that fit the part in question, I will instantly reel off a group of talented people I met in University or Sixth Form. I hope that they would do the same for me, if they got there first. However, where this becomes a problem is when your mate, with no movie experience, assumes that one day you will get into the position where you can make a buddy cop movie casting the two of you as the mismatched, yet loveable leads.

I blame Neill Blomkamp for this one. He came into some money, made an awesome Sci-Fi movie and cast his best mate as the starring role. The thing is Shartlo Copley, the actor in question, was phenomenal in that part. He really captured the desperate man on the run in a way that someone famous probably wouldn’t have. Let’s be honest, Gerard Butler or John Travolta wouldn’t have pulled it off as well. But that casting choice was made possible, because Blomkamp had enough faith in Copley to convince the producer (who was Peter Jackson, a guy known for his left-field casting choices), to take a risk on the lead. Most producers are not going to give a new-time director that liberty.


OK, answer this honestly. Let’s say you write an awesome script. A producer catches wind of it and instantly loves your story. However, as you are a new director, he offers you a load of cash and says he’ll take it. The one condition is that you have no further part in the film, as he wants to hand it over to a famous director, like James Cameron. This is probably the smart thing to do as it can convince for investors to put money into it and will make the film seem less Indie and more blockbuster. However, this means that you are just credited as a writer, the guy who rarely gets the full brunt of the glory. Do you accept the offer or decline?

My movie is called 'Superbad Zombie-Squad 43'.

My movie is called ‘Superbad Zombie-Squad 43’.

It’s a tricky one. Of course, as you were writing the script, you imagined yourself directing it. You already cast your leading lady as Emma Stone and had an awesome soundtrack picked out in your mind. However, surely just the idea that your story is out there in the cinemas is good enough. Personally, I would hand the script over to the producer. I have no particular desire to take up directing and I have already posted a few game and TV ideas on this site for any able producer to take from me, leaving me out of the credits. I am just happy knowing that something I thought of is being made, but I imagine a lot of new-time directors would want more. Just look at the two teens on LA Complex, the TV show. They are living examples of new writers on the block, blindly demanding to be made joint directors on their script.

Just some food for thought, directors…

3 thoughts on “3 Ways New Directors Sabotage Their Own Career

      • I do love Quentin Tarantino movies. But John Waters for me is absolute genius (Even if he does do everything you mentioned in this list!)

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