The Directors Journey Online

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You've learned the basics of directing, what's the next step? This six-week, online course led by AFI, AWGIE and ADG award-winner Elissa Down (The Black Balloon, Offspring), is a ‘pre-production checklist.’ Designed for emerging filmmakers, this course offers advanced preparatory strategies and theories to take your craft to the next level.

Using an Oscar-winning screenplay as a basis, you will assume the role of the script’s director and learn the preparatory needed for the many facets of a director’s role. You will have a weekly video chat session with director and course tutor Elissa Down. The feedback on your weekly assignments will give you real insight into how you can improve your directorial skill set.
Topics covered include:
• Building and communicating your vision

• How to use camera, performance, design and sound to tell your story

• Establishing style and tone

• Pitching for projects and preparing a director's statement

• Preparing shot lists and storyboards

• Understanding screenplay structure and scene analysis

• Ensuring the script and drama makes sense

• Re-working scenes to make them stronger

• How to cast well

• Understanding the different approaches to performance

• How to track a performance over the course of a feature

• Preparation for rehearsal

• What to expect on set

• Getting an agent and being a working director

• Plus much more!


“Elissa is very knowledgeable in the art and practice of directing as she's a successful working professional and is someone who I for one look up to and will continue to follow. She gave helpful and constructive criticism and taught in a way that was easy to follow and keep up with. Any course Elissa is teaching I would strongly recommend to anyone. This course is worth every cent.”

“The amount of helpful information Elissa gave us has been and will continue to be extremely vital to me as a director in training. This course never has a dull moment! She's honest and realistic, which is the best way to learn.”

This is an intermediate course. You are expected to have undertaken an introductory directing course prior to enrolling.

This is six-week course is completely online. There is an online video chat session with Elissa Down every Saturday morning from 9.30 - 11am ADST.
You will need to dedicate time to weekly assignments, film viewings, plus one 90-minute online chat session. If you cannot make the live chat sessions for any reason, there will be a recording available for viewing at your convenience

Elissa’s debut feature film, The Black Balloon, starring Rhys Wakefield, Luke Ford, Gemma Ward, Erik Thomson and Toni Collette, opened the Generation 14plus section of the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Crystal Bear for Best Feature Film. The film won six Australian Film Institute Awards (now AACTA’s) including Best Film, Best Director, Best Original screenplay. The Black Balloon received over thirty prizes including accolades from the Australian Director’s and Writer’s Guilds, Australian Film Critics Circle; Asia Pacific, Rotten Tomatoes and Inside Film Awards.

Since then, Elissa has directed episodes of the multiple award winning Australian comedy series, Offspring, adapted and directed the best selling Colleen Hoover novel Confess into a TV series for Awestruck (Awesomeness TV) and is currently in pre- production for Honored - a feature film for Lionsgate Digital, starring Meghan Rienks, Sasha Pieterse, Karruche Tran and Arden Cho.

Elissa is also developing a number of projects that she’s set to direct; the Romeo and Juliet romantic comedy Mr & Mrs Montague (Australian/UK/German co-production with Tristram Miall producing) which is currently casting, TV series Love Never Dies with Aquarius Films and Maximo Entertainment and a bio-pic of the infamous Third Reich director, Leni Riefenstahl.

To participate in this course you MUST have an internet connection (broadband wired OR wireless 3G or 4G/LTE) and the ability to enable cookies within your web browser.
Mac Users: It is best to use Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox as your web browser.
PC Users: It is best to use Google Chrome or Explorer as your web browser.
The chat sessions use Zoom (video conference software), to which we provide a link for the free download.

You must have the following to use Zoom:
• An internet connection - broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)

• Speakers and a microphone - built in, USB, plug in or wireless Bluetooth

• A webcam or HD webcam- built in, USB, plug in, or HD camera or camcorder, with a video capture card

Have any questions? Please get in touch: or 1300 065 281

AFTRS reserves the right to cancel any course for any reason at any time. In the event of a course being cancelled a full refund of course fees will be provided. If a participant wishes to withdraw from a course, they may do so up to 15 days before the course commences and get a full refund. Cancellations 14 days or less before course commencement will incur a fee. For more information on AFTRS Open's policies, including refund policies, please see our policies page


The Australian Film Television Radio and School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.