IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA: Joey Reyes was hilarious.
Web series “Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 3 (The True Story of Josephine Bracken),” marked the acting debut of film director Jose Javier Reyes, known for his stirring family drama films and crisp scripts.
In the story, he played a real-life role, that of a screenwriter who couldn’t take it that Eugene Domingo would want to play the Irish mestiza Josephine Bracken, Jose Rizal’s partner, in a film that he’s writing.
Reyes acted so well, like a pro, in the film, that he impressed the irrepressible Miss Domingo. It helped that the role was comedic, which is how Reyes is in person. A natural storyteller, the award- winning director is a one-person stand-up act who can regale you with the most humor-filled stories this side of De La Salle University and the peripheries of show business.
Reyes is just one of a growing line of filmmakers currently being seen in movies. Multi-tasking has brought them behind the camera and into center frame.
It’s not that these directors have been lacking in assignments or that the industry has fallen short of character actors. It’s possible that younger filmmakers want to see their seniors in another light, another perspective.
Surely, if they can direct actors to act, they can be good actors themselves.
ELWOOD DEBUTS AS ACTOR: In a film that he’s currently shooting, veteran director Elwood Perez himself plays a key role, that of himself. The leading box-office director of the 70s and 80s says he was compelled to take on the part when the actor tapped to play the role begged off.
“It was also due to our low budget that I stepped up to play myself in my film,” he says.
NOTHING NEW: Then and now, directors playing small or big roles in films is nothing new.
Joel Lamangan was a theater and movie actor before he became a filmmaker.
Laurice Guillen was primarily an actress before directing her first film, Kasal.
Celso Ad. Castillo played bit roles, and sometimes bigger roles, in some of his movies.
Carlitos Siguion-Reyna is acting in a stage play, “Katsuri,” an adaptation by Bibeth Orteza of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” The play opens at the CCP on Oct. 4.
Bibeth herself is multi-tasking personified. Aside from being a TV and big screen writer, she is also an actress and director. Lately, she has reactivated her acting career, both in films and on stage. Bibeth played the title role in “Dolorosa,” which played recently at the Ateneo’s Arete Theater.
Two other directors who are acting on the big screen are Lav Diaz and Marlon Rivera.
IN HOLLYWOOD: In Hollywood, directors who are seen as actors in films include Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Kenneth Brannagh, Clint Eastwood (more of an actor).
They were short-lived stints, however.
Elwood says directors taking on roles of actors provides them a break from their day jobs.
“It’s usually not done for the money. It’s more like food for the soul.”
ACTORS ALSO DIRECT: There are also those who moonlight as directors.
Handling directorial chores on TV teleseryes are actors Gina Alajar, Ricky Davao, and occasionally, Dingdong Dantes.
Of course, during his time, Fernando Poe, Jr. also directed movies for his own FPJ Productions.
Nora Aunor directed one film, but it was only half-finished and never got shown.
Vilma Santos still dreams of directing a movie once her days as a civil servant are over.
Paulo Avelino and Bela Padilla are potential directors. Bella has written scripts turned into films, while Paulo has been writing scripts on the side.
Xian Lim debuted as a filmmaker via “Tabon,” shown in Cinemalaya 2019.
Alessandra de Rossi is directing her first film, starring Piolo Pascual, no less.