The Director Vs. The Filmmaker

About three years ago I made a conscious shift to stop defining myself purely as a film director.

Ironically, since then I’ve directed more projects than in the first 10 years of my career combined.

But it’s no coincidence.

I recognized the potential harm in labelling my creativity so narrowly. So I changed my mindset, and it changed the course of my creative life.

I’ve always loved directing. To this today, it’s the heart of my creative process and the thing I am drawn to most. I’ll probably do it for the rest of my life.

But at a point, I realized that strictly labelling myself a director was actually holding me back.

It led to me to (falsely) believe there was one right way to approach a career in film, and one set of goals that I had to subscribe to like every other director. 

It also led me to turn a blind eye to my other creative skills and interests, all of which would later benefit my directorial efforts in profound ways.

The more specifically I defined myself, the less ability I had to see opportunity that existed outside of those boundaries.

But as creatives, open mindedness should always be the goal –

Without it, we fail to see the abundance of opportunities and possibilities that could lead us exactly where we want to go.

We hold these rigid beliefs that it’s the straight road that will take us to our destination. So we pass right by the windy roads that would actually take us there, because we’ve been taught to ignore them.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I love many aspects of the craft in addition to directing – cinematography, color, sound, music – you name it.

But for so long, I failed to explore these interests to their fullest extent, because I was led to believe that would hurt my career.

I was taught that a director should never be a jack of all trades. That you’re not supposed to hold the camera or do the sound mix or handle the marketing for the film, because that’s just not the way its done and no one will take you seriously. 

So for years I ignored many of the skills and interests and passions I had. Or at the very least, pushed them to the side while I pursued what I thought a directorial path was supposed to look like.

Only when I stepped back and started working from the perspective of afilmmaker, did things change. 

Around that time, I was offered a few cinematography jobs that I would have turned down in years past. But in the spirit of ditching the labels, I kept an open mind and took the gigs.

Not only were these projects incredibly fun and fulfilling, but they led to my next two feature film projects as a director.

Getting behind the camera again reminded me how much I loved it, and gave me the idea to make a feature film that I could shoot with no crew.

And this no-crew feature film is what indirectly led to the financed/distributed feature film that I was just commissioned to write and direct this year.

Had I not been open minded enough to take those cinematography gigs, I may have had two less feature films on the board at this point.

Only by removing the label of director, was I able to embrace being a filmmaker. And only then did my directorial work start to really click. 

Not everyone can (or should) take my exact approach – that goes without saying. But I think we can all benefit from leaving our ego at the door, and focusing on the work itself, not just the end credits.

As I move toward my next few projects, I will continue to think of myself not only as a director, not only as a filmmaker, but as an artist with an unlimited creative palette to work with.

The path will always be less certain, but the journey far more interesting.

When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

1. Make a feature film today: The No-Budget Feature Film Blueprint

2. Build your network and sharpen your craft in our community: The Backlot

3. Color grade & polish your footage with my post-production tools on: Cinecolor

About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

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