Sounds awful right? Standing in front of an audience and pretending you’re someone else. You’re a director after all – you’ve specifically chosen directing as a career because it keeps you behind the camera. But we’re not suggesting you should consider acting in your own films, going on auditions, or prepping headshots. But trust us: Taking an acting class will make you a better director. Here are five reasons why.
1. You’ll communicate better with your actors
Actors want direction that is clear and concise. They get frustrated – rightfully so – when a director can’t communicate with them effectively. In an acting class, you’ll be the one receiving directions and adjustments. Imagine the perspective shift you’ll have on directing methods, how many notes an actor can handle between takes, and the impact of positive and negative feedback. And it’s not just about you. Watch and study your classmates. How do they prepare for a scene? How do they take direction? What is it like working with someone when you have good chemistry with them? When you don’t? Remember these things when you’re in charge.
2. Your expectations will be better aligned with reality
Actors are human like everyone else. But since their job is to become imaginary people, directors can fall into the trap of treating them like malleable props.
Actors sometimes forget lines, misinterpret direction, and might even occasionally mail in a take. Acting class will help you understand how much work performing really is. Many actors go through intense training and years of practice, but still need assured direction to achieve believable vulnerability (especially in view of a large crew). Great actors can make it look easy, but it rarely is. All actors have limitations, and taking a class can help you recognize when they are reaching that threshold.
3. You’ll get first-hand knowledge of the craft
Aspiring directors should place the same emphasis on the acting process as they do on the more technical elements such as cinematography and editing.
Gaining a deeper appreciation for acting will improve your own confidence as a director, which will only further inspire all cast and crew. Your credibility as a director is often dependent on your ability to sell yourself as an expert in filmmaking. The more familiar you are with every aspect of it, both behind and in front of the camera, the easier it is to make that sale.
4. You’ll make connections
In class you’ll meet actors who are serious about their craft. While they may not be ready to headline a blockbuster, you may discover talented people who you’d like to work with. The industry is filled with stories of directors and actors who have worked together for years. Though there are lots of ways to connect with people, an acting class is a great way to really get to know them when they’re not there to audition for you. It’ll give you a chance to see not only their talent, but their true personalities too.
5. You’ll have fun
There are many reasons to try things that scare you. A big one is that when you conquer your fears, you grow as a person. Plus, when you later ask your actor to try something that makes them nervous, you can legitimately say you’ve been there. Even if it ends up not being your favorite experience, your worst case scenario is that you’ll have a fun new story about stepping out of your comfort zone.
So, sign up for an acting class, even just a beginner’s one. There are plenty that only last a few weeks and aren’t too expensive. The experience and investment in yourself, will be a great addition to your directing skill set.
Bonus: Here are some classes we recommend: