Posted 07 March 2012 - 09:45 PM
The real answer to this question is much to long to explain in a forum format, which is why I wrote the book "What I Really Want to Do: On Set in Hollywood." Once you read it, you'll understand how the industry works and then you'll get a better idea of what jobs MAY help you become a working Director and which jobs won't and why they won't.
But I'll try to summarize a bit. First, ANYBODY from anywhere has a shot at building a career as a working Director. It doesn't matter if you went to film school or not. Some things can help, like being a whiz in film school, but even that is no guarantee. Many working Directors either begin that way directing a short film that gets attention somehow... or they fall into a directing opportunity coming from other jobs in the industry, such as Screenwriter, Director of Photography, First Assistant Director, Editor, Production Designer. Those jobs in particular are perceived as "artistic" in some way plus they have direct access to studio executives and Producers who have access to the green light.
The problem with trying to work their way up through the ranks as a crew person is that you are seen as a non-artistic cog. This isn't to say that you can't make the leap to Director from Grip or Camera AC or anything else, but the odds are less than if you make a first impression on a Producer in some other artistic way.
If directing is what you really want to do, then you are best off just trying to start off that way by making a movie. Or if you are a great writer, try to get into the industry as a Screenwriter. There is no one way to do this, but there are things you can do to improve the odds and first is understanding how the industry really works.