Five Top Film Directors Who Didn’t Go to Film School

Many people have great desire to become film director but one big obstacle is get proper education to achieve. In reality, there are many film directors who didn’t go to film schools and some of them manage to achieve great things in the film industry.

David Fincher (one Oscar nomination): Fincher is known for the dark and stylish portrayals in the Seven, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac and Fight Club. Fincher started his film career by working in Indiana Jones, Return of the Jedi, the Temple of Doom and Twice Upon a Time. His directing career began when he directed commercials and music videos.

Peter Jackson (eight Oscar nominations – three wins): Jackson is a New Zealand filmmaker best known for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the 2005 remake of the King Kong. His international recognition started with his slapstick horror comedy films. Although he has no formal education in film-making, Jackson is known for his special effects and editing skills, largely through field experiences. Jackson started his career as a photoengraver and his first film was a feature-length movie about vampire.


Sir Ridley Scott (3 Oscar nominations): Scott is a British director with Academy Award nominations, as well as a few wins in BAFTA Award, Emmy Award and Golden Globe. He is well known for an obsession for details and stylish visuals. His popular films include Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Alien, Kingdom of Heaven, Blade Runner, Matchstick Men, Thelma & Louise, Body of Lies and American Gangster. His first work was a short black and white film, called Boy and Bicycle, starred by Tony Scott, his younger brother and his father. Scott is also a very productive TV commercial directors, directing more than 2,500 of them. The Duellist was his first directional debut.

James Cameron (3 Oscar wins): Cameron is a Canadian-American screenwriter, producer and director, known for diverse range of film topics, from Aliens to Titanic. He is a highly innovative director with significant artistic prowess, although somewhat notorious for his confrontational personality and fierce temper.

Steven Spielberg (12 Oscar nominations – 3 wins): Many would agree if we say that Spielberg is the most popular film director to date. He is considered as one of the most influential and powerful figures in the film industry. With filming career spanning over four decades, his works touch on many genres and themes. From sci-fi to adventure to children-focused films. Later, his films address issues like terrorism, war, slavery and Holocaust. Schindler’s List (1993) earned him his first Oscar winning, followed later by Saving Private Ryan (1998). Jaws, E.T.: the Extra Terrestrial and Jurassic Park broke box office record and became highest grossing films at the time. All his films grossed to nearly $10 billion worldwide.

One thing that we can learn from these directors is that determination is the main characteristic to achieve success. It’s not always about schooling and money. James Cameron said that aspiring filmmakers should stop considering themselves “aspiring”. They just need to do it and become a real filmmaker, regardless of their situations.

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