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Tips for Producing and also Acting in Your Own Film

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I started producing my own films so that I could give myself a role in the movie and create my own opportunities as an actress.

As I learned from my last five feature films, it is not as easy as you may think to produce and act in the same project. Here are some things to look out for and to be prepared for if you choose to produce a project you also act in.

As an actor you are usually shielded from drama on set, from constant complaining and problems that arise.  But as a producer you have to problem solve the issues, which is your job.  So, it is very important that if you want to act in the film you produce that you are able to separate yourself from the drama and be able to fully concentrate on being in the moment as an actor.

On one of my films I was in front of the camera as an actor setting up the shot with the DP, while my phone started buzzing in my pocket.  I reached in to read there was an emergency in the production office and they needed me right away.  Of course, I couldn’t leave my mark and we had to shoot the scene, and thankfully I was able to separate my producing hat from my acting hat and concentrate on the scene and give my best performance.  But this isn’t for everyone, as it can be very frustrating to know there is a problem you can’t deal with, and on top of that you must be able to disguise those thoughts and bring an amazing performance.

I have also encountered as an actor hearing the other actors complain and put the set down, which can also be very difficult to deal with because as a producer the set is your responsibility, therefore they are actually complaining about your work as a producer.  But you can’t let that effect you either, the show must go on, and your performance must be more important to you than the negative comments you hear on the sidelines.

The biggest challenge you may find as an actor/producer is the editing bay.  When you step into the edit room as a producer you MUST leave your acting hat outside the door.  You must be able to be objective and watch your performance from a producer’s mindset, not from your ego.  At this point you must want what is best for your movie and the final outcome more than what is best for yourself as an actor.  That can be a major challenge.  And for most films, actors aren’t allowed into the editing bay for this reason, it is hard for them to be objective in this process.  I have learned to be able to watch my film and my performance from the perspective of a producer, if I wasn’t able to get my mentality to this place then I wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the edit of my film, and therefore would not get to fully produce it.  It is important for me to take my films from conception to completion, so I have consciously worked on this mentality, so I could continue to produce a film I also act in.

Learning to switch hats on the fly is a muscle you can learn to flex, but I also think there are some people who aren’t able to perform both of these jobs without something suffering, so it’s important for you to find out if the jobs are a good fit for you to manage simultaneously.

Alexandra Boylan

About Alexandra Boylan

Alexandra Boylan (Producer, Writer, Actor, Co-Founder Mustard Seed Entertainment and Mirror Tree Productions) Alexandra is an award-winning filmmaker. MirrorTree Productions, has produced numerous feature films, including "Home Sweet Home" and "At Your Own Risk". Her company Mustard Seed Entertainment's film "Catching Faith" had a two year run on Netflix and was on the shelves of Wal-Mart. Her most recent film "Wish For Christmas" sold to Pure Flix Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Alexandra’s script "Switched" was awarded the winner of the Kiaros Pro MovieGuide award for best screenplay. She is the author of "Create Your Own Career in Hollywood: Advice from a struggling actress who became a successful producer" available in Kindle and print on Amazon, and is an active member of Woman in Film Los Angeles where she served on the WIF PSA Board. Alexandra co-collaborated on the book "Thriving in Hollywood!" for msinthebiz.com