5 Awesome Tips For Acting And Directing At The Same Time

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Acting and Directing – Are you an independent filmmaker that wants to act and direct in your very own film? While it might sound challenging, it doesn’t have to be.

If you look at great filmmakers like Clint Eastwood, Orson Wells, Spike Lee, and Jodie Foster, they have been able to act and direct in his/her projects with ease. 

They probably made mistakes at the beginning trying to balance both roles while on a set. But it takes a special skill to accomplish both jobs and make an incredible film. 

Acting & Directing in the same feature may sound easy to do, but a filmmaker who wants to tackle this challenge needs to understand certain tips and tricks to be able to pull this off properly.

If you are thinking about acting and directing your next feature, let’s take a look at some useful tips and tricks to help you achieve this goal.

So let’s look at some practical tips and tricks to help you be successful in the roles of acting and directing on your next project.

Related Article: Smartphone Filmmaking 101: Learn to Shoot Mobile Video

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My Introduction To Acting And Directing My Own Film

This short film above was my first introduction to acting and directing in my film.

How I ended up in this situation was all based on the fact that I had actors that all get called in for paid gigs. This left me with my behind-the-camera team fill in as actors.

On top of this, it was part of a local 48-hour film festival that we had to write the script, shoot the film, and edit the project in less than two days.

It was challenging to say the least, but the result wasn’t as bad as it could have been. If you watched the clip, I would hope you laughed, if not, I am sorry.

But during this challenge of jumping in to act and direct this short film, I learned some valuable tips & tricks that I will always use going forward if I am stuck in that situation again.

Oh, by the way, we had to use tinsel as the prop in our film, so that’s why there is so much tinsel in the film.

Get Your Directing Done In Pre-Production

acting and directing

Plan your work and work your plan! This is the motto I use in my daily life, and I use it in film production every time I shoot.

When it comes to film production, the more you pre-plan before shooting, the better your odds at having a successful shoot.

As a director, make sure you have a great support team behind you that can help you in solving problems before your shoot. Have your production team worry about the behind-the-camera stuff, so you can focus on what is in front of the camera.

If you are acting and directing, in pre-production make sure you do lots of table readings and rehearsals to make sure everything like blocking is worked out before cameras start rolling.

Then when you get on the set during production, a simple walkthrough of the rehearsed scene will feel natural.  

Related Article:  Step-By-Step Beginners Guide for Starting a Film Production Company 

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Use A Stand-In During Blocking

When a filmmaker is acting and directing at the same time, they can be in two places at once.

This is where using a stand-in comes into play. Just by having a real person as your body double, you can then worry about the behind-the-camera stuff like lighting, audio, and cinematography.

Plus, by having the body double in place, you can see through the lens of the camera the way the scene will play out.

Have Someone Who Has Your Back On Set

acting & directing

The key to successfully run between two important roles on a film set, you need someone who shares your vision. 

Productions I have been in which the lead actor was the director, I was made the assistant director as a stand-in director to give feedback on a take.

You don’t need an assistant director; it can be your Director of Photography, your Producer, or another actor just someone that can give your actor-self feedback and notes and direction. 

This way you can stay in character when you need to act.

Want to Learn More About Filmmaking?

Become a better filmmaker with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by film masters, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Jodie Foster, and more.

Have Extra Monitors On The Set

acting and directing

I can’t imagine what it was like to be on a set when there wasn’t access to a monitor. With everything going digital on a film set, filmmakers can have a monitor on a film set to watch playback anytime they want.

If you are thinking about acting and directing yourself in your next feature, monitors can aid in watching playback without crowding the camera’s viewfinder to watch a scene that was just shot.

Plus, if you decide to add extra monitors on the set, you can have them pointed at you so you can watch playback without leaving your marks.

Give Yourself Time to Disconnect

acting and directing

When you are acting and directing in your film, the pressure is on 24/7. To avoid having a mental breakdown during the film shoot, you need to give yourself so time to relax and recharge.

Directing is tough enough on a film set, adding acting to the mix can bring the stress to a whole new level. If you need time to step back and focus after acting and directing a scene, do it before you start a new take or scene.

Also, depending on your acting method of getting into your character for each scene, it requires you to focus, so take the required time to get into your character, so you can get the best acting and directing performance each time.

Want to Learn More About Filmmaking?

Become a better filmmaker with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by film masters, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Jodie Foster, and more.


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