Like many people living in Los Angeles, I took an improv class when I was younger. I think it really helped me learn how to pitch and to feel comfortable with all the attention on me. But aside from that, it taught me the most important writing lesson of all time: Commit to the bit.

This sentiment was echoed to me when I became friends with some comedians the following year. They said it over and over when they were working out their new material.

To "commit to the bit" means to fully embrace and dedicate oneself to the execution of a creative idea, character, or scene, no matter how absurd or challenging it may seem, with unwavering conviction and sincerity.

Today, we're going to explore why that is so important for filmmakers.

What Does "Commit to the Bit" Mean?

Commit to the Bit

Lincoln committing to the bit

Dreamworks/20th Century Fox

At its core, "Commit to the Bit" is about dedication. It's the process of taking a concept, no matter how outlandish or nuanced, and giving it your all to bring it to life in the most authentic way possible.

This involves not only physical and emotional dedication, but also a deep understanding of the context in which the "bit" operates within the narrative.

For a filmmaker or an actor, this means immersing oneself into the character or scene with complete belief in its reality, regardless of the external judgment or perceived silliness of the concept.

What Happens If You Don't Commit to the Bit?

committing to the bit

Breaking Bad


If you fail to commit your audience will fall out of the realm of suspension of disbelief and the bit will fall flat. In comedy, that means you won't get laughs. In acting, it means you won't have the authenticity. For writers, it can mean the idea will feel half-baked. And in directing, it means you're not buying fully into the genre.

When you lack to embrace the idea at hand, you leave things feeling unfulfilled. And you leave the team of people you're working with hanging, especially if they commit and you don't.

How Does this Apply to Creativity?

improv commit to the bit

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Fox Searchlight

In creativity, especially within the realms of film and TV, taking risks is part of the game. I love a movie or TV show that tries something and fails more than one that phones it in and succeeds.

But the success of these risks hinges on the creator's ability to fully commit to their vision.

If you have a weird idea or are playing in a new genre sandbox, don't half-ass it. Go all in.

When there's a full commitment, even the most bizarre or daring scenes can resonate profoundly with the audience, often becoming the most memorable moments of a piece.

For screenwriters, it means writing scenes that fully embrace the tone and direction of the story, even if they push boundaries they may not be comfortable with.

Directors must commit to their visual and narrative style, ensuring that every shot, edit, and sound aligns with the intended impact on the audience.

Cinematographers, production designers, costume designers, and composers also all contribute to the bit by fully investing in their respective roles, creating a cohesive and immersive world. With filmmaking, the bit is a cohesive goal pulled off by an ensemble.

Everyone needs to give their all to support the idea in order to make something great.

Examples Of Committing to the Bit in Film and TV

What Does it Mean to Commit to the Bit?


Warner Bros.

One of the things I love about this mantra is that it extends across different jobs within the film and TV community. I adopted it from improv people and comedians, but it can be applied to actors, directors, writers, and the lot.

So, let's look at how it works across positions.

1. Method Acting

One of the most renowned examples of committing to the bit is the method acting approach, where actors fully immerse themselves in their characters to deliver authentic and compelling performances.

  • Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln (2012): Day-Lewis is famous for his method acting, and his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is a prime example. He remained in character throughout the filming process, adopting Lincoln's mannerisms and voice, even off-camera, which contributed to a performance that won him his third Academy Award for Best Actor.

2. Auteur Directing

Directors often commit to their unique styles or storytelling techniques, creating distinctive and unforgettable cinema.

  • Wes Anderson's Symmetrical Composition: Anderson's commitment to his distinctive visual style, characterized by symmetrical compositions, meticulous set designs, and a vibrant color palette, is evident in films like The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). His unwavering dedication to this style has made his work instantly recognizable and critically acclaimed.

3. Physical Transformations for Roles

This probably could go under method acting, but we gave it attention here. Actors undergoing significant physical transformations to better embody their characters is a testament to their commitment to the bit.

  • Christian Bale in The Machinist (2004): Bale's drastic weight loss to play the insomniac Trevor Reznik showcased an extreme level of dedication to his role, deeply affecting audiences with the physical manifestation of his character's psychological turmoil.

4. Immersive Worldbuilding

Directors and production teams that commit to creating immersive worlds allow audiences to fully engage with the narrative, often leading to iconic film and TV franchises.

  • Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Jackson's commitment to bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's world to life involved meticulous detail in set design, costumes, and special effects, creating a believable and immersive Middle-earth. This dedication paid off with multiple Academy Awards and a lasting legacy in film history.

5. Innovative Filmmaking Techniques

Embracing innovative techniques to tell stories in new and engaging ways showcases a commitment to pushing the boundaries of the medium.

  • Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity (2013): Cuarón's use of groundbreaking visual effects and long, unbroken takes immersed viewers in the vastness and danger of space like never before. His commitment to this vision resulted in a visually stunning film that won seven Academy Awards, including Best Director.

6. Genre-Defining Works

Films and TV shows that have defined or redefined genres demonstrate a commitment to exploring and pushing the boundaries of storytelling.

  • Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad: Gilligan's commitment to character development and moral complexity transformed Breaking Bad into a genre-defining masterpiece. The show's dedication to exploring the consequences of Walter White's descent into the drug trade captivated audiences and critics alike, earning it a place in television history.

Commit to the Bit is more than just an expression for performing comedy; it's a philosophy that champions the bold, the innovative, and the genuine in film and television. It calls for a complete dedication to creative ideas, pushing artists to explore the depths of their imagination and to present their visions without reservation.

In an industry that thrives on originality and impact, committing to the bit can be the difference between creating something good and creating something unforgettable.

Let me know what you think in the comments.