On the hit show Superstore, Ithaca College alumnus Ben Feldman stars opposite America Ferrera in the role of a big-box store employee. But last December, the accomplished young actor returned to campus to play the role of teacher opposite a group of IC students.
Feldman, who after graduating with a B.F.A. in Acting in 2002 has appeared in movies and television shows such as Mad Men, Drop Dead Diva, and A to Z, led a two-day master class in camera acting technique for Acting students.
The master class focused on scaling the actors’ performances so that they had the optimal impact for the intimacy of the camera. Each student chose a scene to work on, and Feldman put the camera in very close proximity to the students and suggested that they consider the camera an ally and confidant.
“The idea is to learn who the camera is, where it is, what it sees and trust it,” said Feldman.
The results were dramatic. Scenes that were initially suitable for the stage were adjusted to be performed with the simple truth, focus and stillness required to connect with the camera.
“It is important, of course, for a human performer to connect with his or her human scene partner,” said Feldman. “Equally important is the actor’s ability to relate in a human and intimate way to a mechanical device such as a camera. When that happens, everything becomes easy and effortless.”
Students responded enthusiastically to Feldman’s coaching and advice.
“Working with Ben Feldman was an invaluable opportunity in learning how to use the intensive training we get at IC to meet the demands of the TV and film business,” said Tyler Sapp,’18. “Having successful alumni here gives us insight on how to work as an actor in the real world.”
“Getting feedback on our work from a successful professional actor who has been in our shoes, was really special, exciting, and educational,” said Jessica Hirschhorn, ’16.
While Feldman played the role of teacher during the master class, his weekend back in Ithaca left him feeling grateful for his college days, and appreciative of today’s students.
Said Feldman: “The camera workshop was just as much a class for myself as it was for the students.”