Actor Simon Baker directs first feature film, 'Breath'

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Actor Simon Baker uses Mother Nature as a co-star and paddles into new territory by directing the surf-based drama, "Breath." (KABC)

Simon Baker is best known to television audiences for his role on the long-running series, "The Mentalist."

During its long run, he directed several episodes. Now, he's gone behind the camera for his first feature film. It's called "Breath," and is based on the novel of the same name. Baker also co-wrote the screenplay. It deals, in part, with something he's been doing since he was a kid: surfing.

Baker plays a surfing mentor to a couple of teenage boys looking for more out of their lives. The film deals with fear, risk and growing up, sometimes maybe too soon.

"The film is largely about finding your own personal strength in your identity separate to your parents and your peers and your mentors," said Baker. "I wanted to deal with that period of our life where we cross a line between childhood and adulthood. We don't even know it's there at the time but in hindsight, we're able to see those moments.

Baker shot this movie in 36 days, some of it actually in the ocean.

"You have to sort of be humble when you're shooting on the water," admitted Baker. "You have to--you have to understand that Mother Nature is the boss. She's the stars. And you've got to wait and be patient," Baker said.

Baker had been thinking about making this movie for about 20 years. He's been studying the masters of filmmaking since he was a teenager. And he discovered teenagers in Australia to star in his movie: both surfers, not actors.

"I know enough to know that you can't teach an actor to surf. You just can't," said Baker. "The great thing is they inspired everyone else. When you're acting with someone that hasn't acted before and they're just telling you stuff that's really -- you've got to be on your game because you're going to get found out, buddy, as an actor."
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