actors-who-become-filmmakers.jpgWhat did actor Blake Robbins do when he’d worked in the industry for 20 years and was still waiting to land the kinds of roles he aspired to have? He made his own film, entitled The Sublime and Beautiful, and it was an official selection of the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival. Robbins has an enviable career: he’s best known for playing Tom Halpert on NBC’s The Office, and Dave Brass on the critically acclaimed HBO series Oz, he has extensive background in theater, and has numerous national commercials under his belt. But Blake desperately wanted to propel his career in a new direction with a starring film role. He asserts, “As actors, there are two ways to get a role. One is for someone to give it to you, and the other is to create it yourself. I highly recommend that you give yourself work as you are waiting for other people to give it to you.” And while Blake makes clear he first and foremost considers himself an actor, he hopes adding Writer, Director, and Producer to his credits will procure him even more acting roles in addition to opportunities as a filmmaker.

When it came time to create his own film, Robbins was able to develop a role to showcase his strengths as an actor, and he even got to include his children as cast members. The storyline of The Sublime and Beautiful is based on an actual event that deeply affected him earlier in life. That is, when he was attending college, his aunt was hit by a drunk driver; as he arrived at the hospital he discovered the drunk driver shared the same recovery room as his aunt. Having experienced such a tragedy, Robbins decided to explore the theme of grief in his debut film. He managed to garner enough cinema intrigue with a small community in Kansas who generously offered their locations as they wanted to be a part of a movie-making experience. He had plenty of ideas for how he wanted to approach his directing because he’d paid attention to the behind-the-scenes process throughout his acting career.

The Sublime and Beautiful was received with mixed reviews. Some were drawn into the heavy subject matter, while others described it as having a limited point of view, and as being a downer. But filmmaking, like acting performances, will always be vulnerable to the critics. The question is: Will Blake Robbins indeed beget more acting and filmmaking work as a result of the experience?

More importantly, have you ever considered making your own film? Making a quality film can be an enormous task, but it has never been as economically friendly as it is nowadays. While it’s not for everyone, it just might be what’s right for you. As for Robbins, he says he only regrets having waited as long as he did to pursue his filmmaking aspirations.