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David Henry Gerson - Actor, Thinker

Features
by Peter Belsito
June 27, 2014 10:00 AM
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David Henry Gerson

I met David Henry Gerson in Paris last week after seeing his film there at Champs Elysee Film Festival. "Automatic At Sea" competed for finishing funds in the US In Progress section at the Fest. (Good film, didn't win.)

David starred in and produced this film which was directed and written by Matthew Lessner.

In 2011 they were both in Park City in January. Matthew's first feature "The Woods" was in Sundance, New Frontiers section and was distributed in U.S. by Film Movement. It was shortlisted for Independent Spirit and Gotham Awards. The San Francisco Film Society has awarded him two grants for his upcoming feature "Terror Tuesday".

David's film showed then in Slamdance. A documentary, " Ultra Violet for Sixteen Minutes" showed a Warhol period screen test of his future star Ultra Violet and included an interview. She died recently and in the film discussed her art and connection to Mormonism.

David liked Matthew's film then and describes it as summing up his generation. 'The Obama-era-over-socially-networked generation. The generation is overwhelmed by options. The children of the '90's bear a darkness under the surface. The FaceBook feed, scrolling not landing, the big issues are not dealt with.'

So they worked together in "Automatic At Sea". The film is contemplative, dreamlike, even poetic. It has three characters in a beach house, David and two young women. There is no story and it is a study of characters and their interaction. David says of his character there, 'he can do anything but therefore does nothing'.

Champs Elysees Film Festival

I told David of my reactions to the film and we began discussing his views on acting which I found very interesting.

He comes from the Washington DC area and was raised there. He began acting very young and even had a stage at his family home. He remembered Henry Winkler's advice to actors. 'Before acting, get an education.'

In New York he studied Method acting at the Drama Academy. In LA he studied with Sandra Secat. 'Acting is deep and personal to me, using dreams and the subconscious. It is complicated and powerful, as the actor is powerless. I want to do roles I believe in and that create opportunities.'

He goes on, 'Film has responsibility. It occupies minds for a few hours and therefore film needs to inspire. Actors in film need to create poetic art, to give voice to emotional issues, to encourage action. This becomes the question for a film character overwhelmed by responsibility.'


In Sundance '14 he had a short, 13 minutes, the L.A .based " Chapel Perilous ”. David was lead actor and producer. It won an Audience Award and was by the same team that did the feature. It is about war and the earth's destruction. Manly, threatening and aloof in his role in “Automatic at Sear", in life he is also smart (a graduate of Colombia University with a bachelor's degree in English Literature and currently attending the American Film Institute) and engaged.

His future? David says, 'I want to keep acting and always be looking at other options'.

About "Automatic at Sea"

Writer/director Matthew Lessner and producer David Henry Gerson presented "Automatic at Sea". Their short film " Chapel Perilous " previously won the 2014 Audience Award at Sundance. Matthew's previous feature "The Woods", distributed by Film Movement, premiered in the New Frontier Program at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and was shortlisted for Independent Spirit and Gotham Awards. The San Francisco Film Society has awarded him two grants for his upcoming feature "Terror Tuesday". Producer David Henry Gerson also starred and to my eye and in my opinion is one of the few mature (adult vs. boy-type) male leads in this new generation of actors. Manly, threatening and aloof in his role, in life he is also smart (a graduate of Colombia University with a bachelor's degree in English Literature and currently attending the American Film Institute) and engaged.




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