Work your ass off. Day and night. Making a movie is hard. It is a miracle when a movie is actually made to completion. As the director, always be the hardest working crew member on set. I am always the first to arrive, and the last to leave. If my crew call is 7am, and my actor call is 8am, I am on set at 5am. You can rest when the movie is over. The other actors and crew might not know the hours that you are putting in. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are a strong and consistent leader. Most will recognize that you are doing everything in your power to make the production happen. This should inspire them. If it doesn’t, then they are too self absorbed and may not be worth working with again.
All that directing is, is storytelling. Very organized storytelling. It is up to the director to convey a story that has clarity, meaning, emotions, pacing, and appeal.
Know the story. Don’t be afraid to beat up the script. It’s okay to do rewrites, even up until the day you film. This might make the actors upset, but that will be forgotten when the scene turns out beautifully.
Know your actors. Get to know them really well. The director needs to know the range and capabilities of his/her actors. I found that it's easier when there is comfortability between the actor and director. If I was an actor, that is what I would want. It can sometimes be an uncomfortable job being an actor, so be understanding. Try to always be sympathetic to what they have to go through in a scene.
Hand pick your crew. I like to work with the same people over and over again. Some of my team members I have been with since film school, and thats because we work well together. The crew is your army, and you are their commander. Be sure to provide yourself with a group of hard working, talented, and loyal filmmakers.
In my opinion, the Director of Photography (DP) should be a good friend. The Director of Photography and the director need to have a close relationship. They need to be seeing the same vision, and be able to communicate effectively, time efficiently, and respectfully. It is easiest when you can find a DP that thinks the same way as you in terms of cinematography and style. When I work as a cinematographer, I enjoy it the most when I have a director who trusts me, and isn’t looking over my shoulder every minute and trying to take the camera out of my hands. Because the director should never take the camera out of the DP’s hands.
Write your own shot sheets and draw your own storyboards. Part of directing is knowing the shots that you need for a scene. Usually the Assistant Director (AD) will carry around the shot list, or shot sheet, and will manage it for you during the shoot. But make sure that you and the DP design a list of all of your shots in advance.
Directing a feature length film is fucking hard. There is a lot of business involved in directing a movie. Make your life easier, and surround yourself with intelligent people.
Despite the hard work, directing films is fun. If you love your career, then you wont ever work a single day in your life. Make every movie like it's the last movie you’re ever going to make.
Hustle, grind, eat, sleep, repeat.