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The Director's Journey with Elissa Down

Behind the scenes of 'Suburban Wildlife' | Dir. Imogen McCluskey | Photo: Chelsea Thistlewaite

Become a Working Director

You’ve learned the basics of directing – but how do you become a working director and build a sustainable career? This ten-week, 100% online course is designed for emerging filmmakers, offering insight into the role of the director to help take your craft to the next level. Led by AACTA, AWGIE and ADG award-winner Elissa Down (The Black Balloon, Feel The Beat, While The Men Are Away), who works in both the US and Australian industries, you’ll develop your directing knowledge and skills from the comfort of your own home.

Using an Oscar-winning screenplay as a basis, you’ll learn about the preparatory work and insider knowledge needed for the many facets of a director’s role.

A weekly video chat feedback session will give you real insights into how you can improve your directorial skill set and apply it to your projects and career.

Topics covered include analysing screenplay structure and scene analysis, working with actors, communicating your vision, designing your world, collaborating with your team, pitching for projects and more.

Is The Director's Journey: Online right for you?

This is an intermediate course designed for filmmakers with some experience, offering insight into the role of the director to help take your craft to the next level. There will be some assumed knowledge, so you should undertake an introductory directing course if you don’t have practical experience before doing this course.


  • A working knowledge of screenplay structure and scene analysis
  • How to do a director’s breakdown of script
  • How to use camera techniques, design, sound and editing to tell your story
  • Communicating with actors
  • Collaborating with your creative and executive team
  • How to pitch and do a director’s statement
  • Practical knowledge of working in the industry

Meet Your Tutors

Elissa Down

Elissa’s assured debut feature, The Black Balloon, starring Rhys Wakefield, Gemma Ward, Luke Ford, Erik Thomson and Toni Collette, won the…

Learn More

What you will need

This is an intermediate course. You are expected to have undertaken an introductory directing course prior to enrolling or to have some on-set experience.

You will need to have read a script before starting the course (this will be emailed to you one week prior to the start the course).

Each week you will have exercises and reading to do outside of the Zoom session. You should allow for up to ten hours per week to complete the work for this course (including the Zoom session).

This course is delivered live and 100% online via Zoom video. There is a regular Zoom session every Saturday from 9.30 – 11.30 am AEDT.

You will need access to a desktop or laptop computer with a camera, sound and a good internet connection as well as a quiet place to participate. Headphones are recommended.

Once enrolled we will send you further instructions and a link to the zoom sessions.

Register your interest to stay up-to-date on future offerings, application or enrolment dates, and more information on this course.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ** 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 you are planning to travel to attend a course, please confirm with us via email that the course will be proceeding before you make your travel bookings. AFTRS is not liable for any travel costs incurred due to course postponement, cancellation, or any other circumstance.

If an attendee 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.

Find out more information about discounts and refunds here.

For more information and to get a copy of the course outline email shortcourses@aftrs.edu.au or call 1300 223 877.