From Lighting to Directing: Is Such A Move Possible?

Moving from studio lighter to director I’ve been getting some great questions thrown my way on my website. Greg, a student in Texas, asked me, “If I start out as a lighter in a studio, is it possible to move up to being a director?”

Although anything is possible and I (mostly) never say never, I have to say it would be a very rare thing – at least in feature animation. I don’t have the experience in TV shows to know if that is the case or not.

I know directors who were once animators, character designers, editors, FX artists, productions designers and writers – but directors in feature animation mostly come out of the story artist pool. They are trained from the beginning to keep story at the forefront of their visions, both written and visually. By the time they reach story supervisor on their way up the ladder towards directing, they have a good idea of how to handle the story as a whole. Not all story artists become directors – for many reasons – but that is where the studios seem to look the most.

I do not want to squash any hopes of any lighters (or any other specialized artists) aiming to be directors! I would just recommend that you do what you can to be a part of the story process and show your chops in that, too. It’s always a good idea to diversify your skills, regardless of what industry you’re in. The better you can demonstrate your understanding of the story process, the more you can improve your chance at getting a shot as a director—even if, at the time, it seems like a long shot.

Still, I’m an advocate on not giving up and sticking to your dreams, even if the path seems convoluted or downright rocky. I hope my input proved helpful, and I wish you the best of luck!

Photo by asteegabo via Creative Commons

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