When you first start animating, the odds of you getting access to high-level directing positions is borderline nonexistent. After all, the vast majority of directors are folks who have multiple decades of experience and understand the ins and outs of the entire creative process and people management. Fortunately, if you are ready to accept the long-term dedication and effort that you must put in, there is a good chance that you will reach this status one day.
Before starting to work hard, however, you should get a sense of the direction in which your career should go before you can expect to become a director. Moreover, you must recognize the basic premise of what someone in this role does. According to the Animation Career Review, these individuals handle everything from recruiting new creators to coordinating enormous teams. The following roles are a quick overview of the most important positions that you should get some exposure to.
If you fail to learn all the details of proper animating, you will seldom, if ever, get an opportunity to direct large projects. Given the level of responsibilities that you will have, knowing how the creation process goes is incredibly pertinent. Thus, you should start your career by looking for a job where you are drafting and creating animations from scratch. While it may be challenging at first, time will be your most valuable friend here. There is probably no other point in your career where your learning curve will be as steep as it is within the first few years of entering the workforce.
Once you move up the ranks or see that you have enough experience to take your expertise elsewhere, you should focus on a producer role. Although you will still do a lot of creating, the amount of day-to-day animating that you must do will drop significantly. Instead, you will now focus on putting projects together and ensuring that all parts of the multimedia process tie in together well. This means that you must make a transition into the hands-on management and leadership of your subordinates, which could include an occasional opportunity to train new-hires.
Get Into Screenplay
As you produce animations, you will most likely gain some exposure to screenplay tasks. The most common ones are edits related to the scene set-up and directions of the main characters or focal points that are present. In case you do not get a chance to see how screenplay works when you become a producer, you should look for a project that covers this. Doing so will be an essential step toward transitioning into a well-rounded creator who can oversee the entirety of the multimedia process, which is the main duty of a director.
Obtain Some Editing Experience
While you don’t have to spend much time working as an editor, you should do some editing work during your career. Unlike typical animation, this simply means that you are making changes to a draft that another creator already made. Expectedly, most editors are folks who spent a few years doing animation and possess the necessary skillset to give tangible feedback. That way, their subordinates can make appropriate changes and take their knowledge to the next level.
Make Your Projects
In case that you are not pursuing a traditional career path that is built within larger companies, you will have a chance to get into directing a lot sooner. This is because you can work on your projects very early and try to get some exposure to the market that way. You should notice, however, that it is much harder to build a lucrative career as a freelance animator than it is to work for a major provider. Nonetheless, if you want to get into directing without having to climb the corporate ladder, you are much better off doing independent work.
Seek Directing Opportunities
Once you reach a level where you are animating, producing, editing, leading, and training skills are up to par, you should start seeking directing opportunities. Remember to do this in a timely fashion, and avoid spending too much of your career no low-level tasks. If your organization is not promoting you as often as most other organizations promote their creators, consider looking for a different job.