James Bontempo, the former teaching associate and protégé of the late legendary actress and renowned acting teacher Nina Foch, will be leading the Nina Foch Seminar at the International Digital Cinema Workshop this summer at Cal State San Bernardino.
During her long and illustrious Hollywood career, Foch appeared in more than 50 films, including classics such as “An American in Paris,” “Spartacus,” and Cecil B. DeMille’s epic final film, “The Ten Commandments.” In 1954, she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the film “Executive Suite.”
Bontempo worked closely with Foch at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and during her private classes at the Nina Foch Studio.
The seminar is scheduled to be a four-part, two-weekend hands-on program, beginning Saturday, July 14. Bontempo will introduce attendees to Foch’s best-practice techniques and demonstrate proven acting exercises to participants. On Sunday, July 15, Bontempo will show video clips of Foch teaching in the classroom, culled from more than 200 hours of footage. Attendees will then participate, utilizing Foch acting techniques during lab exercises.
The seminar will break during the week and reconvene on Saturday, July 21, when attendees will learn “Hot Objects,” one of Foch’s most effective acting exercises, which allows deep emotions to be triggered in both professionals or beginners. The seminar will conclude the following day, July 22, with a screening and analysis of attendees’ videos and more exclusive tips for filmmakers and actors.
Bontempo teaches locally and nationally, and coaches working professionals in writing, directing and acting. He served as an acting consultant for Oscar-nominated director/writer Walter Salles Jr. for his film, “Exposure,” and received the Audience Choice Award for his direction of “Blue Tuesday” at the Attic Theatre in Los Angeles in late 2010.
The practices taught in the seminar are based on those Foch perfected over the course of her 40 years teaching at USC and American Film Institute. The popularity of her classes was largely attributed to her knowledge of directing actors and her experience working with such Hollywood legends as DeMille, Stanley Kubrick and Lee Strasberg.
Her knowledge of directing actors was “a critical part of cinema studies, and an actual asset to anybody that wants to know anything about actually directing movies and directing actors,” said George Lucas.
Foch took pride in her teaching. “She always used to say, ‘Only God can give talent, but I can get anybody to be able to act,’” said producer Marshall Herskovitz (“Traffic,” “Legends of the Fall”).
The exclusive four-day Nina Foch Seminar at the International Digital Cinema Workshop at Cal State San Bernardino is scheduled for July 14, 15, 21 and 22. The price is $225 to attend the seminar, and attendees will receive a 20 percent discount on the two-disc DVD, “The Nina Foch Course for Filmmakers.”