Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star is Born, wowed everyone at the Toronto Film Festival and confirmed the actor’s status as a respected, talented director in Hollywood. Variety even called it “a transcendent Hollywood movie!” If you’re an actor, you might consider following in his footsteps. Here are 6 reasons why actors should direct a film:
1. You’ll see things from a new perspective
Even if your main goal in entertainment remains working as an actor and not as a director, directing a film will let you see the creative process of making a film from a new point of view. You’ll understand how filmmakers make decisions about locations, shots, lighting, cameras and other things. You’ll see why certain takes make it into the final film when others don’t. You’ll also have to direct actors, so you’ll learn about both what actors do that make a director’s job more difficult and what they can do to make the filmmaking process go more smoothly. This can only make you a better actor going forward.
2. You’ll have more power
Have you ever acted in a film or commercial and wanted to give creative input? Did your ideas get ignored? As a director, you’ll be in charge of the creative vision of the film. You’ll get to decide what story you want to tell and how you want to tell it. “I always realized that I was a bit different than the other people I was acting with because I realized I was a little obsessed with the storytelling, how you film it, how you tell a story, and that’s what always interests me,” Bradley Cooper told The Hollywood Reporter. If that resonates with you, maybe you’ll agree that actors should direct. You’ll get to decide how your budget is spent and which elements are most important. You’ll also get to hire the crew members you want to work with.
3. You already like to collaborate
Like acting, directing is a collaborative job. You probably already enjoy working with other people, or you wouldn’t have become an actor! Directing can be even more collaborative, since you’ll be working with more than just the cast; you’ll also be working and supervising assistant directors, directors of photography, production assistants, editors, costume designers, makeup artists and more.
4. You already know some of your peers
Another reason why actors should direct is that directing and acting are completely intertwined – and if you’ve ever acted in a film, show or commercial, you probably already know directors. “One of the best parts about being an actor is that you get to watch all these great directors work, and I think the name of the game there is just steal everything,” says John Krasinski, the actor who also directed A Quiet Place.
Many of your acting instincts can be applied to directing, and you can ask your contacts about the parts of the job you’re less familiar with. Maybe you haven’t worked with George Clooney, but you might be surprised by how willing an experienced director might be to give you advice.
5. It’s okay to have multiple interests
People often pursue a path in entertainment and then think they’re stuck in one lane forever. Don’t feel trapped! You’re allowed to change your mind, and you don’t necessarily need to know if you ONLY want to be an actor or ONLY want to be a director in the future. Maybe after directing a film, you’ll realize it’s not for you – and that’s fine. It’s okay to have multiple interests, whether that involves directing, producing, writing, editing or anything else related to a film production. There’s nothing wrong with pivoting to a new area or having a diverse resume.
6. It’s okay to fail
Directing is hard! It’s okay if you direct a film and it doesn’t turn out to be a masterpiece. Even if directing a feature teaches you that you don’t want to continue to directing, that’s still a useful lesson. Or if you end up loving directing but your film doesn’t end up how you wanted, you can keep persevering and honing your skills as a director. Actors should direct if they’re passionate about a story – let yourself take a risk. “Shots kept coming into my head,” Cooper said of A Star is Born. “I would dream about it. I realized I had to [direct it], whether it fails or not.”
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