treat’s renaissance man

“The most important thing in acting is honesty,” George Burns once said. “If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

Projecting honesty out the wazoo, Kevin Bourland has cruis ed as a commercial actor over the past 15 years, appear ing in more than 200 ads (special izing in “dad stuff”) and a few movies. But he really wanted to jump to commercial direct ing—a highly unusual move. “If you’re an actor in TV or features, and you start direct ing, you’re considered a Renai ssance man,” he says. “If you’re an actor in commercials, it’s a tougher transition for a lot of people in the business to accept.”

To compete, Bourland chose not to build a spec reel. Instead, he spent $13,000 on a short film, in which actors playing friends and family expounded on “what a moron I am to make a change [like this].” It worked, and he got a gig directing a Pepsi spot through Tracey Locke in Dallas. He’s done some 30 spots since 1999, won an Addy in 2000 for some Phoenix Suns ads and is now represented by Treat in New York and Venice, Calif.

Bour land says he aims to make “performance-driven and truth ful” ads with a style of “simplicity and minimalism.” He continues to act, too, and says his time in front of the camera helps him when he’s behind it—particularly in directing talent. “You sometimes have to get actors to a specific place one-tenth of a second faster,” he says. “All the perform ing background I’ve had made it easier to do things like that.”