The "Just Act - Acting Gym" is the acting class created by actor, Eric Nemoto, the founder of "TAG - The Actors' Group," one of Hawaii's finest community theaters, the owner of the production company, "Yellow Brick Studio (YBS)," and the developer of "All Hawaii TV," a public Roku TV television channel. It is designed to teach the craft of acting by using scene study (cold reads and prepared scenes) as well as improvisational exercises. It is also intended as a work out place to keep their acting skills fresh. What is taught in the class is based on Eric's book, "Just Act - The ADR Acting Gym," and espouses that actors need to master the three forms of acting: 1) dialogue; 2) expressions; and 3) body language; in order to affect the most natural performance. With over 30 years of combined acting experience as a student, as an actor on stage and in film, and in producing many independent movies as a writer and director, Eric provides practical, insightful, and ultimately effective lessons on acting.

Eric came up with the Just Act moniker from the motto used by the American athletic footwear and apparel corporation, Nike, which offered to a world who looked before they would leap, to “Just do it.” Similarly, Eric believed that acting was a “doing” type of endeavor and the sooner one did the better. He believed that actors should be thrown into the performance pit immediately and to “Just Act.”

The Beginning

Eric Nemoto’s evolution as an acting teacher begins at the close of his five-year devotion as a student under his mentor, Dick Kindelon, a long-time actor himself and former casting director for the original Hawaii Five-O television series, who ran his Honolulu Film Actors Workshop (HFAW) at 404 Piikoi Street in Honolulu (an old aerial shot is seen inset), and then later at Heald College, both places of which no longer exists. Beginning just after the mid 80’s, Eric had been a passionate, almost obsessive student of the craft of acting. He had taken classes or workshops from all of the local acting teachers of the time, including Glenn Cannon, Margaret Doversola, Wayne Ward, Garrison True, Anna Fishburn, Lieux Dressler (in LA), and nearly every class or workshop offered from other local acting teachers (e.g. Richard MacPherson, Scott Rogers, Dave Winston-Barge, Genie Joseph, Kimo Kahoano) or who were passing through the islands because they were cast in either a television series or movie (e.g. Richard Hatch, Paul Gleason, Keone Young). But his most consistent attendance was in Dick Kindelon’s HFAW classes. Over a period of five years of weekly classes, he missed maybe five sessions and one of those times was because he was actually on the mainland taking classes in Los Angeles. Sometime in the late summer of 1993, however, Dick announced during the beginning of class that the night would be his final class. At the time, Eric felt his world had ended. He implored Dick to continue and suggested that he could be his assistant in terms of collecting fees from the students. But Dick was adamant, he was done. Through their discussion he told Eric that he was more than capable of running the class if by chance Eric chose to continue it. As a reflection of his sentiments, he gave Eric his three boxes of movie scripts to use.¹ It would turn out to be the start of something long lasting.

Because 404 Piikoi was to be demolished in favor of a brand new commercial building, Dick eventually found another site for HFAW. He initially obtained a location at a hotel situated in Waikiki in a room at a hotel on Ala Wai Boulevard. As time has passed and memory fades, the exact hotel name cannot be recalled. The class was held there for possibly only one class and at most two, for Dick immediately relocated to a room at Heald College (see inset photo), which was at 1500 Kapiolani Boulevard, where Dick taught for about six months. It was while the class was taught at Heald that Dick would ultimately come to his memorable decision to retire. While the building still exists, Heald closed back in 2015.

Old VHS Tape Recording Has Dick Kindelon Coaching Eric And Another Actress At 404 Piikoi

The Influence Of Dick Kindelon (July 17, 1928 – May 13, 2020)

Born in Los Angeles, California, Dick was an actor in Hollywood, who eventually moved to Hawaii when he became the casting director for the long-running (12 seasons, 1968-1980) original Hawaii Five-O televisions series. Along with fellow actor, Jack Hogan, he would create the Honolulu Film Actors Workshop, which would serve to train many of Hawaii’s best actors, and after Jack went his separate way, Dick would serve as one of Hawaii’s best acting teachers for many years. In essence, Dick was an astounding acting teacher. He would not overly indulge into stories about the “business,” but instead focus on the practical basics of acting. He would preach that acting is really about reacting, and his use of the video recorder to videotape scenes, where he would stop the VHS player to point out moments to actors that could be improved upon and moments that were good, were incredibly beneficial. It gave actors immediate feedback, which, when followed by them re-doing their scenes again, would greatly help actors to improve on the spot. Actors learned acting by seeing what Dick was talking about. It was incredibly effective. Dick not only made acting simple and understandable, but he made it fun. His way of critiquing would often times have a humorous bent to it, and actors, even when being criticized, often couldn’t help but laugh at the message being conveyed. Dick and his wife, Carolyn, eventually relocated back to the mainland, where he live for many years and eventually died in Olympia, Washington. He is buried in Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, California.

Another Old VHS Recording Has Dick Acting (Which He Occasionally Would Do) With A Student At 404 Piikoi

What made Dick Kindelon so effective as an acting teacher was he had a marvelous way of getting his message across to his students in a manner that was to the point and often times delivered in a humorous fashion. One never felt talked down to in Dick’s presence. He always found a way to instill hope and enthusiasm even to the most talent challenged of actors. When trying to communicate that a certain portion of a scene involved a growing intimacy in a romantic scene, he’d refer to the scene as, “The coo’ing of love birds.” When attempting to address the fact that an actor look way too much time during a pause between dialogues, he’d say, “You can drive a truck through that moment.” Dick would always contend that “Acting was really all about reacting,” and to support this, he would bring out a page he had clipped out of a magazine that quoted Robert Duvall during an interview as saying that acting was merely, “You talk, I listen, I talk, you listen.” But of all that he taught, perhaps his greatest lesson to the host of actors who benefited from his tutelage was his contention that good actors could come from anywhere. Upon returning from Los Angeles and taking classes there, Eric was asked by Dick to honestly assess his ability to that of the talent that the LA actors he studied with displayed. Eric, not meaning to brag, nonetheless told Dick that there were so many good actors there, but honestly, he thought he was actually the best in the class. Expecting Dick to respond with a chuckle, Eric was both surprised and happy to hear Dick say, “Yep, that’s what I thought you’d say. If you’re good, you’re good. It doesn’t matter where you learn acting, what matters is the work you put in.” Eric has never forgotten Dick’s comment and he communicates this point to his own acting students to this day.

The Move To The University Of Hawaii

But rallying the other actors present that night he asked if everyone would want to continue meeting on their own and self critique each other during scene study.  At the time, Eric was employed as a TRIO counselor for the Upward Bound Program, which was located in the Special Student Services (SSS) building (see inset photo)² on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. Taking the lead, he took down the contact information of everyone in Dick’s last class and also received from Dick his class list. From this he arranged to use the SSS study room for a rental price that would be paid by the nominal monthly fees paid by actors who attend. To announce the creation of this new scene study group, Eric created a number of “typewritten” correspondences and mailed them to not only the actors who were in Dick’s final class whom he had huddled with, but to also a number of regular attendees that he retrieved from Dick’s class list. First off was a general memorandum to those actors who were in that final class and had heard Eric’s pitch and expressed an interest in getting together. Next was a conceptual write up that described what Eric was thinking. This was followed by a brochure and a map that gave directions to where the classes would be held. And after the classes developed a following, Eric followed up with newsletters beginning in November 1993, which continued monthly until March 1995. In essence, he served as “chief cook and bottle washer” during the early days when it the idea of Dick’s actors continuing to get together could have easily just faded by the wayside of exciting possibilities that ultimately lead to nowhere. Because he was so “into this concept,” all of these documents (and printing and mailing costs associated with getting them distributed), Eric just picked it up himself. What transpired could be attributed to either fate or luck, or both. The very first class resulted in only one other actor, Jerry Hile, appearing. It was then that Eric thought the idea, while being a good one, was nonetheless not to be. In keeping with the spirit, he and Jerry did do a cold read together before calling it a night. They parted with Eric thinking that if the next week showed the same lackluster attendance, he would call it a day. But the following week featured 15 actors, and the rest, as they say, would become history. It was at this meeting that Eric christened the class, “The Actors Group.” See “Note.”

Note: When originally created, The Actors Group did not have a possessive apostrophe. Sam Polson, who started as an actor in the scene study classes during the early days of TAG, would eventually come to insist on the apostrophe.

Another Old VHS Recording: A Scene During The TAG Classes In The Study Room Of The UHM/SSS Building

The Passing Of The Mantle

It wasn’t until years later that Eric Nemoto would discover that Richard “Dick” Kindelon had passed away (the inset initials is taken from an online obituary announcement). It brought to Eric a melancholic sadness, for aside from being Dick’s most ardent and devoted student, they became dear friends who would enjoy each other’s company and talk about acting, sports, and their individual lives in general. To this day, Eric contends that Dick was, bar none, the best acting teacher ever, and still semi-jokingly says that had not Dick retired, he’d probably still be taking his class. Having immersed himself in Dick’s teachings over a period of five plus years, Eric continues to teach today much of what he learned from Dick, while also adding a number of his own insights and understandings.

Eric Nemoto & Dick Kindelon At Heald – Eric’s Devotion To Dick Is The Foundation Of His Own Teachings

The Move To The Yellow Brick Studio

Given his long seniority as Dick’s most consistent student, and the fact that Dick gave him his scripts, it was only natural that Eric would become the leader of “The Actors Group.” From the onset, Eric chose The Actors Group primarily because he felt that the name’s acronym, TAG, would become famous one day. And with this new leadership came the responsibility of being the group’s lead facilitator. Eric took this on eagerly. For having personally acted in the great majority of the script scenes, and having paid intense attention to Dick’s lessons, he felt confident that he could relay benefiting commentary. The group stayed at UH-Manoa for about a year, until, in 1994, championed mostly by group members Leigh Ann Kinghorn and Leilani Langhoff, they moved to the basement of a building that was leased by Jon Brekke and Michael Powell, who jointly ran a production company called Yellow Brick Studio, at 625 Keawe Street, Honolulu, HI 96813 (see inset photo).³ It was during the early days at the Keawe Street location that the scene study classes would soar to its greatest popularity, often times attracting 25 to 30 actors who would stay until past 11:00 pm. Eventually, however, the group would morph into a small performing arts group which would transform TAG into one of Hawaii’s finest community theaters. But it is through the constancy of these early scene study classes where he served as the lead commentator that Eric cut his teeth in learning how to teach acting. Meanwhile, Eric would begin working for another university.

Yet Another Old VHS Recording Shows A Cold Read Being Performed At Keawe Street Basement Stage

When it first came out, the Video Home System (VHS) tape was the new rage. It actually replaced the higher quality Betamax largely because VHS made it possible to record longer – up to four to six hours longer. This helped VHS become the go-to format for home video recording and for watching movies. Unfortunately for Betamax, their higher quality material mattered less and less, especially compared to the affordability and longer recording times of the VHS videocassette recorder or VCR. Basically, once VHS appeared, it was no contest. Betamax became history. Many years later, this seems very hard to believe, as the appearance of old recorded scenes on old VHS tapes convince a population that is used to high definition (HD) television, that the recording mechanisms back in the 1980’s and 1990’s must have been developed by the neanderthals of the video recording industry. But it is here that the point needs to be made that the previous old VHS recordings provided were initially – at least for its day – quite clear when it was first filmed. Its current state of appearance – featuring blurred images, apparent jump cuts, images that cut in from seemingly other recordings, and of course not the greatest audio – are indeed the result of decades of storage in environments obviously not hermetically sealed. It is said that the average life expectancy of these types of videotapes is anywhere from 10 to 25 years. Well, at this writing, it’s been 30. So the fact that anything has been retrieved could be looked at as a mini-victory of sorts. At least, we get a semblance of what those early days of both Eric Nemoto’s early acting years and then his transition to teaching (what was not recorded was the ensuing commentary for each scene, for which Eric often would be the lead commentator). Of course, what is not available – with some exceptions – are scenes in which Eric wasn’t one of the actors. The protocol was for actors to bring their own VHS tapes to class for recording and was intended not only for actors to be shown their performances during class for review purposes, but to be kept for additional viewing by actors when they returned home. They were not meant to be kept for any purpose other than as a tool for actors to review their work and improve upon their acting skills. They were especially not envisioned to be part of explaining the history of an acting class as it is being utilized on this page. But still they provide great insight, and if nothing else, brings about nostalgia for a period of time that has long since been forgotten. For all these years later, in spite of the great imperfections caused by time, the recordings take us back to a time long ago in places that actually no longer exist. Above all, they convey the passion of young actors, their futures not even a blip on the horizon, who would practice a craft in the pursuit of a dream. Indeed, those were memorable times.

Building A Set – The Basement Area Of 625 Keawe Street Where TAG & Eric Continued Provided Classes

Teaching For ADR

In actuality, Eric had worked as a financial aid counselor for the UH-Manoa for six years, then worked as a private consultant in financial aid for three years, until eventually becoming the Director of Financial Aid and Associate Dean of Enrollment Management at Chaminade University. He would come to stay there for 16 years (1994-2010). Around 2008, he was asked by his agent, Ryan Brown of the ADR Agency, to teach a 6-week acting class. ADR was then located in the Kaka’ako Commerce Center, located at 850 Kawaiahao Street, Honolulu, HI 96813 (off of Ward Avenue). Eric would teach periodic 6-week classes that Ryan would set up and where the actual class itself was held inside of one of the meeting rooms (see inset photo).

The Kaka’ako Commerce Center – Where Eric Began Teaching 6-Week Courses For ADR

The Change To The Actors Gym

Ryan moved ADR to Kaneohe in 2010, specifically at 45-1123 Kamehameha Highway, Suite #202, Kaneohe, HI 96744 (see photo). There, Eric proposed that the class format be changed. Eric reasoned that beginning actors, as a generality, didn’t get it after a single 6-week course. Many actors would spend wasted time wondering what next to do, and by the time they decided to take another class (usually another 6-week course offered by some acting teacher), all that was previously learned would for the most part be forgotten. Hence, Eric proposed that an “acting gym” be offered each week, wherein interested actors, for a nominal weekly fee, could just show up and “work out” with other actors doing scene study. Ryan liked the idea and the “Just Act – Acting Gym” was born.

Eric Teaches The Acting Gym In ADR’s Kaneohe Office – For A Magazine Article About The Gym Click Here

The Move To TAG

During the years that Eric ran and taught the gym, Ryan actually maintained two offices for ADR. The second one was at 1127 Bethel Street, Suite 1, Honolulu, HI 96813. In October, 2016, Ryan decided to keep just the Bethel Street office and closed up shop in Kaneohe. Because the Bethel Street office was smaller, running the gym out of there was not feasible. Hence, a brief hiatus followed. Then, after a few months, and spurred on by requests by actors to attend the gym once more, Eric, as the founder and president of TAG – The Actors’ Group, asked his board if he could teach the gym in the Brad Powell Theatre, located in The Shops At Dole Cannery, at 650 Iwilei Road, Suite 101, Honolulu, HI 96817 (see photo), on Saturdays, with the understanding that the gym would occur only when the stage would not be used. Usually, this meant, on average, three out of four Saturdays. Each time a gym was held, TAG would receive a cut of the proceeds. The TAG board approved and Eric subsequently continued the gym at TAG from April, 2017 to March, 2020.

A Video That Shows A Portion Of One Of The Actors Gym Classes At TAG – Filmed & Edited By Larry Cortez

The Pandemic

Of course, in March, 2020 the world changed. COVID ushered in the great pandemic and suddenly, taking an acting class was not on the radar. A true worldwide catastrophe, the stuff only made up in movies, was upon everybody. However, after a few months, Ryan came up with the idea for a new location for the gym… online. At first, Eric didn’t think it was possible. To him, acting was a kind of touchy, feely, you had to be there, kind of activity. But given that no one knew when the pandemic would end, Eric agreed, and so weekly Zoom acting classes were scheduled, and all things being considered, faced with otherwise no classes, it would work.

ADR Online Zoom Actors Gym Classes Fill The Void For Actors Who Can’t Meet In Person Due To COVID

Writing The Book

Another development that happened on account of the pandemic was that it spurred Eric to finally put his thoughts down on the craft of acting. Having learned under Dick Kindelon, picked up pointers from every acting teacher that he ever took a class from, and then imbuing his own philosophies honed after years as an actor, producer, directer and writer, he knew what worked, but had not written down how everything came together. The down time that came with the pandemic forced him to finally put into words what his teaching was all about. Through research, personal thought, over the course of a year of on and off writing, he wrote, Just Act, The ADR Actors Gym. To organize and write the book, he first devised a chart which listed the three acting activities that any other acting teacher utilizes: scene study; cold reads; and improvisational exercises. However, surrounding this core set of activities were his philosophies which starts out on the first outer band that states the fundamental understandings that all actors need to accept. From there, subsequent bands inside progress to each next band inside of it until the core activities are reached. These bands govern subsequent rules and practices, for which the mastery of each leads to the actor ultimately being the most natural and effective that they can be.

The Just Act Acting Chart – Eric’s Method Of Keeping Everything That He Has Learned And Taught Organized

Eric has also taught acting, based on his “Just Act” theories and philosophies, to young adults through two organizations, the Pacific American Foundation (PAF) and the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG). PAF is a non-profit organization, recognized by Hawaii Governors since 1993, dedicated to improving the lives of Pacific Americans. CRDG is a research unit in the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa that contributes to the body of professional knowledge and practice in teaching and learning, curriculum development, program dissemination and implementation, evaluation and assessment, and school improvement. Through PAF, Eric has taught after school classes to high school students (at Kailua High School), and through CRDG, he has taught middle school students through the UHM College of Education during summer school classes (at University Lab School).

The Return To In-Person Classes

As COVID subsided and became less of a world crisis, it was decided that the gym would go back to in-person classes. Ryan put the word out in latter half of 2022 and the first few classes, for about two months, the meeting place would be Ryan’s Bethel Street ADR office, located in the Hawaii Building at 1127 Bethel street (see inset photo), directly across from the Hawaii Theatre. Incidentally, it was in this office that Ryan initiated the first Zoom gym classes, before it was decided that Eric could teach from his home. At the Bethel Street office, Ryan used his GoPro camera to do the filming of scenes and also began the practice of filming the ensuing commentary that Eric would provide. .

 

Eric Coaches Two Gym Actors In ADR’s Bethel Street Office

Ryan and Eric later relocated the gym to Rick Bernico’s Hawaii Profiles Photography Studio, located in the Blaisdell Hotel at 1154 Fort Street Mall, Suite 221, Honolulu, HI 96813. In part associated with his decision to enroll in the online filmmaking school, the LA Film School, which required him to purchase film and screenwriting software, cameras, and lighting equipment (which was supported by his VA benefits), Rick re-invested these resources into his studio, and with that greatly improved the performance area within his studio. The first gym session began there on March 9th, 2023 and has continued to this day. The acting gym happens on the first three Thursdays from 6:15 pm to 9:15 pm.

Acting Gym Actors Perform A Cold Read In The Hawaii Profiles Studio – Filmed By Rick Bernico

About The Scripts Used In Class

The Just Act – Acting Gym utilizes the same scripts that Dick Kindelon used for his Honolulu Film Actors Workshop, which was passed onto Eric Nemoto when he initially began TAG. These scripts, which predominantly feature scenes from movies of the 1980’s into the early 1990’s, fully fit three file boxes, and have been increased periodically over the years with more contemporary scripts that Eric has transcribed from additional movies, as well as sides taken from the many scripts that he has written. The fact that Dick’s scripts date back to so long ago really doesn’t matter. Eric uses the analogy of a boxer who trains for a championship fight. Whether one trains in a luxurious penthouse new gym or the basement of a grungy, sweaty old one, the weight of the heavy bag is the same. In fact, one could readily argue that the austere environment of a no frills training spot is actually beneficial. Similarly, how recent or popular a movie is means very little. It is about using any script as a tool to better one’s acting. The organization of scenes done during class was greatly facilitated by the incredible efforts of Jerry Hile, one of original actors from Dick Kindelon’s last class who migrated to starting TAG, who reviewed each script and then created a list in June 1994 that categorized each scene (male and female scenes, male and male scenes, female and female scenes, male monologues, female monologues) and also provided loglines for each. This list proved to be immensely beneficial for deciding on scene assignments and is still used today. A snapshot of the cover of this list is seen in the inset photo.

THE FUTURE OF THE ACTORS GYM: For the most part, Eric’s teachings have been his way of giving back to the creative community. Acting essentially changed his life and so imparting to others what he had spent years accumulating in knowledge and techniques was naturally his altruistic means of paying things forward. Learning acting had benefits beyond the stage and screen. He found that acting instilled confidence, particularly in the area of public speaking, and so he took joy in teaching others this skill that had brought so much good to his own life. But then, when the COVID experience proved that acting could indeed be taught online, it further infused an idea in him that acting could reach a much larger audience. It did not have to be relegated to teaching local actors. He reasoned that in this online world we live in, that it could reach anyone around the world. In fact, he reasoned to his business partner, Ryan, that the true market for the acting gym are those not from Hawaii, and who would never choose to step into an acting class (but who would love to tune in and find out what it’s all about). Going forward, while the gym will always serve the actors who attend, it is the ultimate goal of Eric, Ryan, and Rick Bernico to make the acting gym a subscription based class marketable around the world, where subscribers will have access to all recorded classes, instructional videos, and if their time zone permits, can also participate in real time as well. The world could be their oyster.

If Interested In Attending The Gym Click Here To Contact ADR And Sign Up


¹Amazingly enough, Eric continues to use these same three boxes of scripts to teach today. Of the total scripts, he has contributed maybe 5%. The great majority of scripts still come from the original set that Dick bequeath to him. His use of the scripts, in addition to being an effective took to teach actors, holds a nostalgic meaning for him. Incidentally, the large warehouse and the parking lot that fronted it, was eventually demolished in the late 1990’s, and what stands there now are the offices of KHON-TV, one of Hawaii’s network affiliate television stations (KHON-TV moved into the new building from its previous Auahi Street location in 1999). That old warehouse was a remnant of old Hawaii and a reflection of many good times that are now gone forever. It housed an eclectic group of businesses, including perhaps its most famous tenant, Jelly’s, a store that sold used books, CD’s, vinyl records, comics, and many other collector items that its cult following devotees loved to pick through.

²The SSS building also no longer exists. Back then, when TAG first began, it was part of the old “Engineering Quad” area, a collection of old buildings which were eventually demolished in 2008 to make way for an expansion of the university’s Campus Center.

³Three for three. TAG remained on Keawe Street until 2008 when it moved briefly for two years to the Mendonca Building on Smith Street in Chinatown, until relocating to its present location in The Shops At Dole Cannery. The old Keawe Street building was eventually demolished and what stands there today is a skyscraper condominium.

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