William H. Macy says he's in his "third act" professionally, having worked in theater since the '70s and on film and TV since the '80s.

But he's making a debut this week.

"Rudderless" finds the veteran of "Fargo" and Showtime's "Shameless" stepping behind the camera as a feature filmmaker for the first time.

It's the culmination of a 10-year process, Macy says.

"I've been writing for a bunch of years now with my friend Stephen Schachter," he says. "So I feel confident about my storytelling prowess. When my kids were born, my two girls, I took up photography pretty seriously. They're the only things I take pictures of. But at a point, I realized I can frame a shot. I've got a pretty good eye.

"And then, I think, my acting career hit some bumpy ground where I was not getting stuff that I found scintillating and I had that awful feeling, 'Wait, didn't we already shoot this movie? I've done this scene before."

The film follows a father named Sam (Billy Crudup), who discovers his late son's demos and lyrics and tries to cope with his death by learning to play them.

This is not easy material; it requires a tricky balancing of disparate tones and runs a constant risk of descending into schmaltz.

Macy believes he's pulled it off. And he's certainly eager -- and nervous -- for audiences to finally get a chance to experience the fruits of this 10-year process.

"I likened it to buying a piece of art, buying a painting," Macy says of directing a movie. "It's a frightening thing. You pay a fortune, you take it home, you hang it on your wall, and your friends come in and look at it and they say, 'Oh, you bought a painting. Yeah. You liked this one, huh?' You're just putting your [expletive] on the chopping block."