An increasing number of actors are venturing into the world of directing. For now, they are mostly working in short films, but with an eye to eventually heading commercial feature films.
The trend was visible at this year's Busan International Film Festival, which concluded on Oct. 13. Bang Eun-jin's second feature film "Suspect X" Yoo Ji-tae's first full-length film "Mai Ratima", and Yoon Eun-hye's first short film "Sweater" were featured in Busan.
"The Peach Tree", directed by actress Koo Hye-seon and starring fellow actors Cho Seung-woo, Ryoo Deok-hwan and Nam Sang-mi, will be released on Oct. 30. Meanwhile, actor Park Joong-hoon is preparing for his directorial debut with "Top Star", which is slated for release in the second half of next year.
Although this is not a new phenomenon, it was rare to see actors try their hands at directing in the past and few were successful as they jumped in without properly learning the ropes. However, these days they are making inroads by brushing up on the art of moviemaking at college or graduate schools.
Yoo and Yoon's debut films were actually their graduation projects for their respective filmmaking degrees at the Graduate School of Advanced Imaging Science, Multimedia & Film at Chungang University. After making her directorial debut with "Magic - 2010", Koo also entered Sungkyunkwan University to study the art of cinema.
"Based on the premise that they are equipped with basic directorial skills and knowledge, I think it's a positive thing that we are seeing actors transfer their experiences from acting to directing", said film critic Jeon Chan-il.
Others view popular actors' transition behind the lens in a less positive light, as it can skew viewers' judgment and give them an unfair advantage regardless of the quality of the movie they produce.
One CEO of a film production company said, "Some actors get to steal the spotlight just because they directed something, whether it's well made or not. This would be impossible for ordinary students of cinema".
Jeon added, "Their strength is that they have hands-on experience in acting. If they want to succeed as directors, they should try to make most of their acting experience to communicate with actors when they direct".
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