On campus for the premiere of their newest movie, director John Herzfeld, a UM alumnus, and veteran actor Danny Aiello treated about 50 film and theatre students to a candid master class in the School of Communication’s Studio A, where they shared tricks of their trade and juicy stories on their film careers.
“My advice to first time directors is, ‘If you don’t know something, fake it,”’ Herzfeld told students Thursday afternoon, hours before Reach Me, which stars Aiello, Sylvester Stallone, and a host of other stars, premiered at the BankUnited Center Fieldhouse. “Eventually you will learn how to do it. Never let them see you sweat.”
Director of more than a dozen films, Herzfeld studied at UM where he roomed with Stallone. Even as a student, he said he knew all he wanted to do was make movies. Since then, he has collaborated with Aiello in four films, including 2 Days in the Valley, which he and Aiello recommended to the students as a primer for working in Los Angeles.
Assistant Professor Thomas Musca moderated the lively, casual discussion with Aiello and Herzfeld.
Aiello said that he “loved” working with Herzfeld because the director allows actors a great deal of freedom. “You want your director to be a minimalist,” Aiello said. “A director should be someone who gives you direction, but never tells you how to do a line. It’s got to be your way of doing the line.”
A respected film and stage actor with close to 80 films under his belt, Aiello lauded Herzfeld for continuing to roll the camera even when a scene has concluded.
“Often you get the gold after the scene is finished,” he said.
More than 700 alumni and students attended the evening premier of Reach Me, which was moved to the Fieldhouse to accommodate the overflow crowd. The film is about a motivational book, which written by a mysterious man, quickly gains popularity, inspiring a group of people, including a journalist, his editor, a former inmate, a hip-hop mogul, an actor, and an undercover cop to re-evaluate their lives by confronting their fears.
The film also stars Kyra Sedgwick, Thomas Jane, Kevin Connolly, Nelly, Kelsey Grammer, Tom Berenger, Danny Trejo, and others.
This article was originally written for e-Veritas by Barbara Gutierrez.