Music Video Directors and Producers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

The career paths of music video directors and producers are rather nontraditional. There is no standard training or normal progression up an industry ladder leading to the jobs of director or producer. At the very least, a high school diploma, while not technically required, will still probably be indispensable to you in terms of the background and education it signifies. (A high school diploma will be necessary if you decide to attend film school.) As is true of all artists, especially those in a medium as widely disseminated as music videos, you will need to have rich and varied experience in order to create works that are intelligently crafted and speak to people of many different backgrounds. In high school, courses in music, English (especially writing), art, theater, and history will give you a good foundation. If your high school offers film history or film production classes, be sure to take those courses. Visit the Web site of the American Film Institute ( for a list of high schools that offer film courses and other resources for students and teachers. Don't forget to take computer classes, since computer technology plays a major role in this industry. Finally, be active in school and community drama productions, whether as a performer, set designer, or cue-card holder.

High school courses that will be of assistance to you in your work as a producer include business, mathematics, English, speech, computer science, economics, music, and psychology.

Postsecondary Training

According to the American Film Institute, the most reputable film studies programs in the United States are Columbia University in New York City, New York University, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California. Some organizations such as the New York Film Academy ( offer certificate and diploma programs in video and film to high school graduates. Programs may be as short as one week or run for one to two years.

The debate continues on what is more influential in a music video directing career: personal experience or professional training. Some say that it is possible for creative people to land directing jobs without having gone through a formal program. Competition is so pervasive in the industry that even film school graduates find jobs scarce. On the other hand, film school offers an education in fundamental directing skills by working with student productions. Such education is rigorous, but in addition to teaching skills it provides aspiring music video directors with peer groups and a network of contacts with students, faculty, and guest speakers that can be of help after graduation.

As with the career of director, a college degree is not required to be successful as a producer, but many producers earn college degrees. Formal study of business, film, television, music, communications, theater, writing, English literature, or art at the college level is helpful, as the music video producer must have a varied knowledge base to do his or her job successfully.

Other Education or Training

The American Film Institute offers a directing workshop for women. It also partners with Montgomery College-Takoma Park in Maryland to provide various workshops on filmmaking and how to create film shorts or documentaries. The Producers Guild of America offers seminars and workshops about a variety of industry-related topics to its members. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for music video directors and producers.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience making music videos and overseeing production tasks associated with creating videos is highly recommended for aspiring directors and producers.

Music video directors must have a strong creative vision for their projects, but they must also be able to work with producers, editors, record company executives, and other industry professionals. They should be decisive leaders with an excellent knowledge of music videos and the narrative forms necessary to create them.

Music video producers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some start out as directors, musicians, business school graduates, actors, or production assistants. Many have never formally studied music video production or film. Most producers, however, get their positions through several years of experience in the industry, perseverance, and a keen sense for what projects will be artistically and commercially successful.