How to become a Set Director?

Last updated: 9 months ago
How to become a Set Director?

As the creative and passionate force that drives the making of a film, a set director must fill many roles.

In order to both visualize the structure and style of the film and define it, a set director needs to be effective at finding the right cast, editing the script for clarity, composing shots for maximum effect, selecting the appropriate shots for the film and editing the final version.

Having an educational background as a freelance set director provides a solid foundation. However, the most useful item for becoming established as a set director is a showreel that highlights your best work.

Anybody out there wondering how to become a freelance set director? Well, a set director is tasked with managing all the activity on a set to ensure there’s maximum efficiency.

This includes developing the script, working with extras and the Art Department, etc. to ensure that all aspects are moving smoothly and according to schedule.

He is also tasked with ensuring that the furnishings, the drapery, artwork and lighting fixtures developed by the Art Department are consistent with the director’s vision.

He also selects the best shots to be used in the final edit of the film. Freelance set directors aren’t employed by any film studio or company. They prefer to work as independent agents.

Get some experience

Are you willing to work for free?

Volunteering at various small film projects within your area will give you the opportunity to view the set directing job up-close.

This will enable you to approach the set director and ask him/her questions regarding what it takes to get that job so that you get a feel of what the job entails.

You’re also able to get involved in other aspects of the film development process and this will not only increase your knowledge base but also enable you to understand how all the cogs in the system work together.

Would you go to school?

While practical experience in the field is crucial, getting a formal education will make you an even better set director. Classroom instruction coupled with active participation on set will make you very competent and the best prospect for professional film work.

Build your showreel by working pro bono

You want to get your name out there so that proper well-paying shows can take you seriously. Well, doing some pro bono work will help you in that regard and assist you in developing your portfolio.

Play to your strengths

In order to find success as a freelance set director, you should possess the following strengths:

Be creative, artistic, collaborative and detail oriented

Be an excellent leader by staying calm, working effectively while under pressure and able to work with diverse personalities

Be passionate about filmmaking while retaining a deep understanding of both the creative and technical aspects of the process

Do you have an eye for art?

Information on how to become a freelance set director will be incomplete without mentioning the artistic element involved.

This job requires one to work consistently with a film’s Art Department, and this requires a certain appreciation for the aesthetic elements that would be best for a film.

Great organization skills always come in handy

Having the ability to easily organize a group of people into getting a task done efficiently is a skill that counts as a great resource for any prospective set director. Successful films are the products of remarkable set organization and direction.

Diversify

While set directors notably work in Los Angeles, home to Hollywood, many others work at video production companies or regional television stations.

Other areas that freelance set directors can be found include small independent movies or training films.

A set director could also branch out into other areas related to that career. These include producing, writing, teaching or script development.

Popular articles

  • What is an Underwater Camera?

    An underwater camera is basically a camera that can be used to capture images and videos under water. It can be used for shoots as one is swimming, snorkeling, or with a remotely operated underwater vehicle. Some of these cameras are even automated and can be easily lowered from ...
    Read more
  • What is a Video Editor?

    A video editor is the person who makes production and/or post-production changes to a film. The video editor works closely with the director to achieve the best final film outcome, with the goal of telling the story in the most effective and compelling way. Work heavily involves ...
    Read more
  • What is a Film Director?

    What is a director? Also called a film director or video director, the director is the person who controls the overall artistic and dramatic feel of a presentation – whether it is a five minute infomercial or a feature film. They instruct and guide both the technical crew and ...
    Read more
  • What is a Camera Operator?

    Camera operators work in the television, music and film industry and are usually employed by television and cable companies or by video production houses. They are responsible for capturing different scenes during production and operating a wide variety of technical ...
    Read more
  • What is a Visual Effects Editor?

    A visual effects editor, also known as VFX editor, is the person who is overseeing, and responsible for all the visual effects in a production. The VFX editor must have excellent communication skills, as the job requires the VFX editor to communicate effectively between VFX staf ...
    Read more
  • How to become a Camera Operator?

    A camera operator for video is the person who literally shoots the video or the still photographs during the planning stage. A Freelance Camera Operator is someone who a director hires to handle either a single camera or to manage a team of camera operators. This is a supporting ...
    Read more
  • What is a Script Writer?

    If you’ve ever watched a movie or television show and cringed at the clunky dialogue or poor plot development, thinking to yourself “I could do better than that,” script writing or screenwriting may be a viable career path. This primarily freelance role can provide you wit ...
    Read more
  • What is a 3D Graphics Artist?

    A three-dimensional (3D) graphics artist designs digital animation or footage that is used for characters, landscapes, backgrounds and other elements in film, television or video game production. The still or moving creations have the appearance of depth in addition to height an ...
    Read more
  • What is a Director of Photography?

    A Director of Photography (DOP) also known as Cinematographer is a creative leader during a video production. It’s a position full of responsibility, and the Director of Photography must have camera skills, lighting knowledge and the ability to work with the entire camera crew ...
    Read more
  • What is a Stunt Coordinator?

    Just about every dangerous or unbelievable act of skill you see on television or in the theaters has been coordinated and sometimes even performed by a stunt coordinator. Every good production requires a stunt coordinator to pull off the extraordinary scenes seen in television o ...
    Read more
  • What is a Slow Motion Camera?

    Slow motion refers to an effect that is common in the film-making industry where motion pictures appear to be moving slower than normal. Previously, the effect had only been applied more in films, commercials and television. But with major advancements in phone technology, one c ...
    Read more
  • What is a 360 Camera?

    A 360 camera, also known as an omnidirectional camera, has a 360-degree field of view so that it captures just about everything around the sphere. 360 cameras are needed when large visual fields need to be covered, such as shooting panoramas. As virtual and augmented reality (A ...
    Read more
  • What is a Costume Designer?

    A costume designer is someone who designs costumes and wardrobe items for use in film, stage productions and television. The main role of the costume designer is to create the styling for each of the film’s characters and balance each of the actor’s appearance in a specific s ...
    Read more
  • How to become a Voice Over Talent?

    Becoming a freelance voice over talent is a popular career option for many in the entertainment business — and for good reason. Voice over artists enjoy relative anonymity — a big perk for those with day jobs — and a huge amount of flexibility. It’s also quick work with l ...
    Read more
  • How to become a Pro TikTok Creator?

    A Pro TikTok Creator produces short-form video content that is to be published on TikTok. They would typically be involved from the pre-production to post-production process, should there be required edits and additional animations to make.  Pro TikTok Creators should id ...
    Read more
  • What is an Action Camera?

    An action camera, also known as action-cam, can be defined as a digital camera that has been designed for filming while it is immersed in the action. Since they are immersed in the action they have a compact and waterproof surface. They are tiny and lightweight and can produce h ...
    Read more
  • How to become a Director of Photography?

    A film director of photography (DoP) is the person who provides a film with its unique visual identity, feel and look. They help to tell the story of the film by making artistic and technical decisions regarding lighting, shot selection, camera operations, film stock, and other ...
    Read more
  • What is a Fisheye Lens?

    A fisheye lens is like a wide-angle lens, but a lot larger. The shape of the lens causes the camera to produce images using extreme visual distortion so that they appear hemispherical or as very wide panoramas. The lens got its name in 1906 based on how the physicist and invento ...
    Read more
  • What is a Producer?

    Film producers are the people who keep the film’s quality up while ensuring that its production is on time and stays within budget. Producers can manage hundreds of individuals in any one production, in addition to dealing with the film studio and distributors. The producer’ ...
    Read more
  • How to rent a Slow Motion Camera

    Renting a slow motion camera is a great tool for when you need to film a slower scene that still has the clarity of a normal image. Slow motion cameras work by increasing the frames per second as well as the shutter speed. In a normal video, the frame rate is 24 frames per secon ...
    Read more
  • How to rent a 360 Camera?

    The term “360 camera” seems straightforward, referring to a camera that films and photographs from every angle. In fact, there is a wide variation in what such cameras can do, and you must be aware of this before renting. Some cameras have an effective viewing angle of only ...
    Read more
  • What is a Green Screen?

    A green screen is a green background that video production teams use to place visual effects later during the post-production phase. The technology of using a green screen (or Chroma key) has been around since the 19th century. Entertainment and Hollywood have become legendary fo ...
    Read more