David Rountree is a talented actor and great producer (check out his IMDb profile). He also teaches acting at Gray Studios in North Hollywood, Los Angeles. I got to audit one of his classes in June 2017 during my L. A. Summer Love experience. Being an acting enthusiast, entering the doors of a renowned acting studio in Los Angeles was a dream come true. Here’s what I learned from the camera acting workshop session on June 19th 2017 at Gray Studios:
We started off with a little warming up game for which we paired up. Choosing one to two words, like “the truth”, we played a kind of emotional ping-pong: throwing the words back and forth, building up emotions, replying and reacting to what our partner sends our way only by using our voice and punctuation as means, putting it all into those two words. My partner was an aspiring actor for Great Britain — it was an intense experience how much emotions you could exchange with someone you’ve only met five minutes ago.We felt sad, beyong excited, angry, confused and everything in between. In just a span of few minutes.
Then we laid the groundwork for the to-be-following scene work for the actors: pairing up again, we interviewed one another as, asking our partner and them answering as their role. Deep questions, really getting the background info on about the character. The people auditing class who did not have a role prepared answered as themselves.
After a quick prep break, the scenes were played on camera. You might think it’s not that exciting to just sit and watch while others play their scenes – but that’s not the case. YOu can learn so much from observing. Here are some insights from my watching:
- Behavior is more powerful than words.
- Don’t let personal habits get you out of character. Control your personal habits, only do them as yourself, don’t let them intervene with your character.
- Statue is really important. Think camera perspectives.
- Emotional response — generating “the truth” — is key.
- When standing up while shooting, head first, use your core strength to lift yourself.
- Don’t simultaneously make noises while talking as sound editing would be necessary in this case, which is annoying for the production team.
David Rountree did not only impress me with his knowledge, his sense for the camera etc. as a producer and his eye for the tiniest aspects of scene study as an actor. But also with his constant respect and acknowledgment for his students’ work. His outgoing nature made for the atmosphere to be open and encouraging, the whole class being on familiar terms with one another.
I am grateful that I got the opportunity of experiencing art being created, watching actors grow under the teaching of a Hollywood mastermind. Thanks to my fellow acting buddy for taking me there!
-your tiny woman in a giant world