Film Director – Karen

Job Title:

Film Director



Karen Cunningham


Describe your job in couple of sentences:

I turn ideas on paper into film.


When did you know what you wanted to do?

I had always wanted to be an actress. But when I left drama school you needed an equity card to act and you couldn’t get an acting job without an equity card. I needed money so I took a temporary job in an advertising agency. The rest is history.


Did you go to university, go straight into the workforce or do an apprenticeship?

At 16, I studied drama for two years and then had a series of very boring jobs.


What did you study?



What was your first job:

A house model in a fashion company.


Does it relate to what you do now?

Not at all!


Have you done other jobs in your life – if so what were they:

Producing and running a successful company. I ran a production company that made commercials for fifteen years.


Did they have any influence on what you do now?

Yes. I produced for several directors in different production companies before setting up my own production company. It was during my time running my company that I realised that what I really wanted to do was direct, not produce.


How did you find out about your job (how it existed)?

Working in an advertising agency where they made commercials.


How did you get the job you wanted- steps and proces

As soon as I realised the job existed I knew it was for me. But unfortunately there were very few female directors so it  took me another ten years to get the confidence to direct. I knew no one would give me the opportunity so I wrote and directed my own short film to raise funds for a charity.

It won lots of awards and helped me to get other projects. It still wasn’t easy as female film makers were few and far between. Thankfully the doors have now opened for women making it easier for women to direct.



What qualities do you need to have to be successful in your field?

Talent, determination and luck.


Give 3 tips for someone hoping to follow in your footsteps:

Don’t give up.

Make a short film.

Watch other films.


Who inspires you?:

Sam Taylor-Johnson

Andrea Arnold

Tracy Emin

Bella Freud