The title Art Director is both a contradiction and a pretty good description of what he does, he most likely does very little “Art” when compared to his underlings, but he will “Direct” said underlings so that all their work looks similar, set them tasks and makes sure they complete them.
The job is very much that, a lot of not doing Art and a lot of delegating the work to others, but they also help guide their team so that the work they do fits together, they help to guide their team in developing their strengths, all that plus they have to be able to show his/her teams work to the rest of the company, to show their progress, to ask for constructive criticism and to find out what tasks they have to tackle next.
So not exactly a creative role, its more about solving problems (tasks – design a level) with the resources you have, (aka – your artistic underlings).
Of course you can swap art in the title for programmer, designer, tester and various other roles and you will find that it translates mostly the same, a lot less of what a lower employee would normally do and a lot more managerially work.
Now since the art side in games in very similar in films we should have a quick look at similarities and the differences.
Similarities – Both go through the same design process, each have to make resources which can either be used to show financers that the project is something that might make some cash, or the work is used to help others or themselves create props, settings and characters (swap settings for levels). They get their tasks from the Design team and will often have to show their work to the upper management to show their progress and any ideas that may have popped up whilst designing.
Differences – Games have a shorted time period for the art to be made, a lot more often has to be made, with a good portion not even finding it into the game (same as films, except there is a lot more of it), the range of styles that they may use for their work will be more varied than a film as well.
So not much difference, and its mostly how much is made in comparison with each other.
But what qualities might you need to become an Art Director? Well for one thing you work with a team, so you have to be able to work with them, to be able to recognize each individuals strengths and weaknesses, while to be able to develop them in each individual and to be able to delegate tasks to people according to their strengths.
Everything else you will need is already there, for you either start from the bottom and work your way up to director, or you already have enough knowledge in that subject and so start as a director.