How to Become a Movie Director – Unlocking the Director’s Vision with David Michan

Embarking on the exhilarating journey into the realm of filmmaking, one often finds themselves enchanted by the irresistible allure of the director’s chair—the epicenter of creative power, emotion, and storytelling magic. But what exactly does it take to ascend to this lofty position? 


To uncover the secrets of this captivating realm, we need to look no further than the dynamic and visionary director, David Michan. Renowned for his groundbreaking work not only in film but also in television, Michan stands as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring directors worldwide. As the lead film instructor at InFocus Film School, his insights are more than just guidance; they are a thrilling expedition through the intricate pathways of cinematic excellence. His upcoming film, “The Girl in the Polaroid,” was shot entirely with a crew of InFocus alumni, including co-director Ed Alexander. With Michan at the helm, the journey to becoming a director becomes an exhilarating adventure, full of twists, turns, and unforgettable moments of creative brilliance.

What is a Director?

“A director is an artist, a problem solver, and a visionary,” asserts Michan. In his view, the role transcends mere technical proficiency, encompassing a profound ability to create, innovate, and inspire. It’s about harnessing intuition and forging a unique perspective that sets one apart in a sea of storytellers. Michan’s definition underscores the multifaceted nature of directing—a delicate balance of creativity, pragmatism, and leadership.

According to Michan, a director must possess a comprehensive understanding of various disciplines, ranging from history and cinema to photography and acting. “To have your own vision, you need to delve deep into diverse subjects,” he advises. This broad knowledge base serves as the bedrock upon which directors can craft narratives that resonate with authenticity and depth. It’s not merely about mastering technical skills but also about cultivating a rich tapestry of influences that shape one’s artistic sensibilities.

Directors Embrace Learning

Michan’s philosophy emphasizes the importance of continuous learning—an ethos that he instills in his students. “As a director, you must always be learning something new,” he emphasizes. This commitment to growth ensures that directors remain adaptable in an ever-evolving industry, where trends and technologies are in constant flux.

“Even seemingly unrelated subjects can offer valuable insights,” Michan observes. He encourages aspiring directors to explore diverse interests, drawing connections between disparate disciplines. Whether it’s delving into the history of cinema or studying the intricacies of graphic novels, every piece of knowledge contributes to a director’s creative arsenal. It’s about cultivating a curious mind—an insatiable hunger for knowledge that fuels innovation and ingenuity.

Directors Start Simple and Dream Big

For novice directors eager to make their mark, Michan offers pragmatic advice: start small. “Keep it simple, keep it realistic, keep it within your budget,” he advises. Beginning with modest projects allows filmmakers to hone their craft without succumbing to the pressures of grandiosity. It’s a gradual ascent—a series of small victories that build confidence and competence over time.

“Too often, aspiring directors try to leap from crawling to running,” Michan observes. This impatience can lead to frustration and disillusionment when lofty ambitions collide with practical constraints. By embracing simplicity, directors can focus on mastering fundamental techniques before embarking on more ambitious endeavors.

Directors Must Be Expert Communicators

Central to the director’s toolkit is the ability to communicate effectively with actors. “Actors are not performers; they’re artists living the role,” Michan asserts. To elicit authentic performances, directors must provide clear, concise direction that resonates with the cast.

“Clarity is key,” Michan emphasizes. Directors should eschew pretentiousness in favor of straightforwardness, ensuring that actors understand their motivations and objectives. This transparent approach fosters trust and collaboration on set, allowing performers to fully immerse themselves in their characters.

“Directing is not about being snobby or cryptic,” Michan cautions. Instead, it’s about fostering an open dialogue that empowers actors to explore and inhabit their roles with confidence. By cultivating a supportive environment, directors can coax out nuanced performances that elevate the narrative.

Directors Must Have A Passion for Cinema

At the heart of Michan’s philosophy lies a profound love for cinema—a passion that fuels his creative endeavors. “Cinema is my motivation,” he confesses. For Michan, filmmaking is more than a profession; it’s a means of self-expression—a conduit for channeling emotions, ideas, and aspirations onto the silver screen.

“Cinema has the power to entertain, to provoke, and to inspire,” Michan reflects. Whether through heart-pounding action sequences or poignant character studies, film has the ability to evoke a myriad of emotions and leave a lasting impact on audiences.

“Think about something that makes you truly happy,” Michan urges. “That’s cinema.” For him, the joy of filmmaking lies in the ability to connect with audiences on a visceral level—to elicit laughter, tears, and everything in between. It’s a symbiotic relationship—a shared experience that transcends language and culture.

Navigating the Director’s Journey

In the vast landscape of filmmaking, the path to becoming a director is as diverse as the stories they tell. Through the lens of David Michan’s insights, we glean a deeper understanding of the artistry, discipline, and passion that define this noble pursuit.

From embracing lifelong learning to fostering clear communication with actors, Michan’s teachings offer a roadmap for aspiring directors to follow. It’s a journey fraught with challenges and triumphs, setbacks and breakthroughs. But through dedication, perseverance, and a steadfast commitment to their craft, aspiring directors can unlock the boundless potential within and bring their cinematic visions to life.