When actors are building their careers, they must have as well-rounded an experience as possible. Directing can help actors gain new insights on stagecraft, leading them to become more believable and stronger actors in general. Brian Posen, an experienced actor, and the director gives several reasons why actors should consider taking their turn in the director’s chair.
1. Getting a New Perspective on Acting
When actors take the opportunity to direct, they may be able to gain a valuable outside perspective on their acting. Directors are responsible for interpreting the writer’s text for the stage or screen. Actors can sometimes disagree with directors’ decisions, but taking on work as a director can help an actor to understand the conflicting situations which make a director’s task more difficult than it seems.
Directors need to be in charge of how people in the cast interact with each other and how their overall harmony makes for a good performance. Actors may be so focused on their own parts that they do not understand how their performances add up to make a cohesive whole. Getting behind the camera may give an actor a better sense of how to make their characters fit into the production.
2. Understanding Casting Decisions
Being a director can give an actor a better understanding of how casting decisions are made. Actors sometimes feel resentful because they have not gotten a particular part, but stepping back into the director’s position can help an actor learn how this process takes place. Actors who have a better grasp on why certain people are cast while others are not can give them a leg up in the audition process.
3. Approaching Actors with Respect
Directing may help actors learn how to approach others with respect for the part they have to play in the production. Even the least experienced actor is worthy of respect. Their learning process may be difficult for more seasoned actors to cope with, but they will find that their acting is enhanced when they learn to work with fresh talent.
Directing can also give an actor the tools to deal with the rest of the cast diplomatically. Rather than looking out for his or her own interests, the director needs to make sure that the entire cast works toward one common goal. Actors may be able to put away their egos when they have directing experience.
4. Flexibility in Genres
It is an exciting opportunity when an actor branches out into directing. Directing a project that is outside their usual course of business broadens the mind. For example, a comedy director should consider directing in the genre of suspense. The rhythm of acting and directing is completely different in these contrasting genres, but the commonalities make it possible for directors to cross over. After directing in a new genre, the actor may feel free to take parts in it as well, further expanding their skill set.
5. Understanding the Importance of Rehearsals
Directors know that the best productions are well-rehearsed. Even on a film set, where people do not always take the time to rehearse, the director can spend time imparting their vision for the scene and try out a variety of approaches before the crew arrives for work. This avoids wasting the crew’s time and keeps production costs down.
6. Building Relationships with Actors
When an actor has been behind the camera, they come to understand why directors work in certain ways. The director must build individual relationships with all of the actors in the production, and they need to be able to mediate disputes. A cast is like a family, and the director is the parent. How the director handles conflict can spell trouble for the entire production. Learning to mitigate the effects of conflict is one of the most critical aspects of learning to direct.
7. Learn How Not to Talk to Actors
Actors dislike being compared to others. They do not like to be treated like children, even though there is a familial aspect to being on a set. They do not need to be talked down to or lectured. When an actor is in the director’s chair, they become aware of these bad words and are less likely to use them against other actors.
Directing is a Great Opportunity
Brian Posen encourages all actors to give directing a try. It is a broadening experience which can help actors get in touch with all of their creative impulses. It can also teach actors how to get along with their castmates and to understand the decisions that a director makes to shape the course of the production.