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Screenwriter vs. Director: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A screenwriter is the creative mind behind the script of a film, television show or video game. A director is the leader of the filmmaking team and is responsible for bringing the screenwriter’s vision to life. Though both roles are important in the filmmaking process, they are quite different. In this article, we compare the job titles of screenwriter and director, discuss the similarities and differences between them and offer advice for those interested in pursuing a career in filmmaking.

What is a Screenwriter?

Screenwriters are the creative minds behind movies, television shows and other forms of visual entertainment. They develop characters and storylines to create scripts that will be used by directors to make films or television shows. Screenwriters may work alone or with a team of other writers to create a script. Once the script is completed, the screenwriter may be involved in pitching it to studios or production companies. If the script is optioned or purchased, the screenwriter may be asked to make revisions or do rewrite work.

What is a Director?

A film director is a person who is responsible for the overall creative vision and direction of a film. They collaborate with the screenwriter to develop the film’s story and characters, then work with the cast and crew to bring that vision to life on the big screen. Directors are also responsible for making sure the film stays on schedule and within budget. They work closely with the film’s producers to make sure all the elements of the production come together smoothly. Once the film is completed, directors work with the editing team to ensure the final product meets their expectations.

Screenwriter vs. Director

Here are the main differences between a screenwriter and a director.

Job Duties

The job duties of a screenwriter and director can differ based on the project they’re working on. Typically, a screenwriter creates the initial script for a film or television show. They may work with the cast and crew to rehearse and film the scenes in order to capture the best performance from the actors. Screenwriters may also attend post-production meetings to discuss editing options with the team.

A director oversees all aspects of production, so they often switch between roles like casting director, location scout and editor. This means that while a screenwriter’s job is primarily focused on writing, a director’s job involves more multitasking. They can edit footage together into a final cut and submit it to film festivals and competitions.

Job Requirements

There are many different paths you can take to become a screenwriter or director. Some people choose to study film at a college or university, while others might study English, communications or another related field. There is no one specific educational path you need to take to become a screenwriter or director, but taking classes in film theory, screenwriting and directing can be helpful. You might also consider participating in workshops or internships to gain practical experience.

Work Environment

Screenwriters and directors work in different environments. Screenwriters typically work in offices, where they can focus on writing scripts for films or television shows. They may also travel to film locations with the crew to ensure that their scripts are being followed correctly.

Directors often work outdoors, as they’re responsible for filming scenes for movies or TV shows. They may spend long hours on set, ensuring that actors and other crew members are following instructions properly. Directors may also travel to locations with the cast and crew to capture footage of certain settings.


Screenwriters and directors share some skills, such as creativity, storytelling and the ability to work with a team. However, they also have different skill sets that are necessary for their respective jobs.

A screenwriter needs to be able to write well and tell a story that is engaging and entertaining. They also need to understand the basics of film structure and how to craft a script that will flow well on screen. A director needs to be able to take a script and turn it into a movie. This includes understanding shot composition, working with actors and actresses and managing a crew. Directors also need to be able to edit film, which requires a different set of skills than screenwriting.


Screenwriters can earn an average salary of $64,012 per year, while directors can earn an average salary of $104,930 per year. The average salaries for both positions may vary depending on the type of company you work for, your level of experience and the location of your job.


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