There is nothing like having a vision, imaging a world, and bringing it to life (I know this from creative writing). If I were in the position to make a movie, that’s why I’d want to direct, rather than act or produce. Personal experience tells me I hate cold pitching ideas, but once there is a green light I’m happy to take on a vision and create it for real.
I quite like acting, but my ‘career’ has been restricted to high school productions. In Grade 6 I got a prime dramatic part in Scrooge (albeit I didn’t have any actual lines), I sought to perfect forboding head-nodding and had a revelatory moment where I swept back my cape to reveal my skeleton suit. I would have liked to take on the role of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of being Ernest in our high school production of the play, but instead got to sink my teeth into portraying the Act II butler. In Speech & Drama lessons I tackled Mrs Danvers monologue from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and a child in Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour, and in class I relished reading the role of Shakespeare’s Falstaff in Henry IV part I. I guess it’s true that you never forget a role you put your time and spirit into portraying and there is a lot of satisfaction to be had from playing a role well. However although some roles are meaty, some are not very substantial and some are possibly not places you want to go mentally. Also, although you have a vision of the character, you may have to fight with the Director if they have a different view point and the final say is not going to rest with you (unless you’re mega famous).
My meagre television appearances also tell me that being behind the camera might give more scope and satisfaction than being in front of it. In primary school we were asked to (told we had to) take part in being filmed for some sort of fundraising telethon (who knows what the funds were for). We had to dress in alternate green and yellow and stand on the steps of the Sydney Opera House gathered around the then NSW premier, who we didn’t think very much of. We had to smile, or say ‘yay’ or something equally cheesy. This segment was one of many from different states that was played during the telethon. Basically we had no choice and probably no clue about what we were doing or why.
Another opportunity to be seen on the ‘box’ came about when my friend and I were approached by a film crew in a shopping centre. We were sixteen and they wanted to interview us for a segment on a children’s television show that usually featured a man talking to a sheep puppet. My friend refused and turned her back on the camera, but I took that opportunity to be an interview ‘star’. The only two questions they asked that I remember now were ‘If you could be a building, what sort of building would you be?’ I think I answered ‘skyscraper’, for what reason I have no idea. They also asked me ‘what would you like to say to people who shoplift?’. Although I’m against shoplifting, I had to laugh at this question, apart from ‘don’t do it’, what was one supposed to say that would not get cut? Anyway, it struck me that this was another time where I had no control: over the questions, over what would be included and what would be cut, and I wasn’t given any time to prepare my answers. In case you’re interested, apparently my segment was aired, as a few people at school told me they saw me on television – I question why teenagers were watching a kiddy show, but I never actually saw it myself.
So all in all, I’d rather direct a movie than feature in one. The chance to bring a whole world into being is a creative (and collaborative) act that is enviable.