Acting AND Directing…

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Avatar of Matthew Pryor
Matthew Pryor on October 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I have been thinking about it, and there are two things i really want to do. I want to direct films, AND act in them as well. No one i know does stuff like this so i am taking matters into my own hands. Im currently working on some projects in which i want to act in. i want to know what you guys think about doing this though. Do you think it is a good idea to write, direct, and act in your own film?

Avatar of Josh Bailey
Josh Bailey on October 20, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I did this for my senior project film, on top of basically all the organizing. It’s awesome being that involved in your film, but you really need to prepare a lot, and you need to know how to delegate to your crew. It can be really hard to have to be “on” the whole time, switching back and forth between actor and director. You’ve got to be fully in character when the camera’s rolling, and then as soon as you stop rolling, people are looking to you to make the next creative decision.

Avatar of O'Ryan McEntire
O'Ryan McEntire on October 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I think a lot of times, for us indy/aspiring types, writing, directing, acting in, and shooting your own stuff comes with the territory. Sometimes it’s not a matter of choice. In order to get something done, sometimes we have to be a one man crew.

It does come with is challenges and downsides though. Because you are split between 3-4 people’s roles, you can’t properly focus on anyone of them without the others suffering.

For instance: It’s hard to be both a director and an actor. An actor needs to live the role and sell it. For some people this is a committed role, they have to really be the character. This means they become really attached to every decision they make about the character. They have a reason for what they do and how they do it. It can easily become personal.

It’s the directors job to be above all this and look at the larger story. He needs to make hard decisions on the fly to really tell the story they way it deserves to be told. It’s also he job to be able to delegate those decisions to the crew fast and efficiently. The director needs to be able to juggle a million and a half things in his head at once.

You can probably see the contradiction here. The actor can only see his role and the importance of all his/her lines and actions. The director sees everything. If you are a director and also playing a major role as an actor, it may get very hard to stay objective. It’s common that the director can’t abstract himself from the character he is also playing and starts sacrificing the story so he can better serve the character. He may overlook overacting and may sacrifice coverage for too many takes on his own performance.

Now that’s not to say it can’t be done. Because it can. It’s just very hard and it takes a very specific type of person. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do it, either. Because like I mentioned earlier, sometime we don’t have a choice as independent filmmakers. In that case it’s better to be producing content and practicing than it is to be creating perfect art.

So I would say if you need to, do it, and be aware of the pitfalls so you can correct course when you need to. But I would also use this as a motivator to really find people to work with. People that you can build a repore with and create a trust worth team. Branch out of your current circle, maybe post an ad looking to connect with other filmmakers in your area.

Avatar of Austin Philip
Austin Philip on October 24, 2013 at 9:29 am

I do both in my films (actually I did a lot: act, direct, write, and edit). I usually have another guy acting with me and I’ve taught him the basics of my camera like how to focus and make sure the exposure is set well. It’s not that difficult to pull off. Get a good tripod and know that you will usually be sacrificing getting good shots and angles because your attention is split between directing AND acting.

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