If you're thinking that you really should be a film director... maybe you should read this modest outline.
1. DON'T DO IT. REALLY.
You're much better off forgetting about the whole thing. Today, EVERYONE wants to make a movie. Just ask the first stranger that you meet on the street. Chances are he/she has started a screenplay. The truth is that the film industry (and I mean the business of making films, as opposed to the magic of watching a great film) has captivated the imagination of the world. Hundreds of thousands of very intelligent people, who in past generations would have wanted to be doctors or architects or engineers or lawyers or The President -- now want to direct films.
Movie Stars now view becoming a Movie Star as just a stepping stone to directing (just ask Gary Oldman, Johnny Depp, Jodie Foster, Kiefer Sutherland, Tom Hanks, Timothy Hutton, Kevin Bacon, Griffin Dunne, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Clint Eastwood, etc. etc. etc.). Sure, some of them ARE great directors, and some aren't. But who's a studio gonna give a film to -- them or you?
So imagine the SHEER FLOOD OF PRODUCT when every bright and ambitious person on the planet wants to make movies. In 1997, there are more than 400 films being released in North America. That's more than ONE A DAY. That means many good films are not going to be seen, period.
And consider this: If you are not A) a movie star, B) born into the right showbiz dynasty or C) very, very, very wealthy -- it's going to be a very rough uphill climb. Think "brutal." Think "humiliation" and "despair." Hollywood is littered with thousands of bright, talented and very bitter people who thought they had the stuff to make it, and didn't get a decent chance. For every SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, CLERKS and SLACKERS there are hundreds of thousands of small indie films, many very good, that never get seen... or never even get finished. In the end, these films really do nothing but eat up people's savings and credit cards and leave a very bitter taste in their mouths.
Even if you make a GOOD film, that doesn't mean that it will be distributed, or that anyone will go see it or that you will ever make a dime off of it. Making films as a Hollywood "outsider" is like playing emotional Russian roulette -- except there are five bullets and only one empty chamber. Not great odds.
Read the next one!