Monday, August 27, 2007

Horror film critic Jeff Allard had a great time talking shop with Fangoria Editor Tony Timpone, who played a newspaper editor.

Corbin Bernsen in costume consults with William Gove on a shot.

My sloppy office was deemed "funky" enough to serve as Bernsen's character' s office. I was proud!

Bernsen is seen here with director Bob Stock.

The dead dog prop that plays a key role in the film

Last Tuesday I received a call from my buddy Marty Langford. It seemed a fellow Western Massachusetts filmmaker, Bob Stock, was shooting a low-budget horror film and needed a newspaper office for a day's worth of scenes. Could he use our place?

I spoke with Bob and he met me the next morning. With the okay from his director of photography William Gove, the crew came in and the newspaper staff had a very interesting day.

The crew was fast, efficient and certainly knew what they were doing and the cast was great as well. Corbin Bernson was the absolute definiiton of grace. He signed autographs, talked to folks and was slightly molested by one staffer. He managed to endure the gawkers with a smile and genuinely seemed to enjoy the no-frills trappings.

One of the best parts of the day was sitting down to speak with the late Darren McGavin's daughter, Graemm, who is the line producer for the film. We talked about her dad's career a bit and she was pleasantly surprised to find a "leg lamp" on my desk as well as to meet someone who remembered "Riverboat," one of her dad's early television series.

For a film guy, it was a great day.

It’s mid-way through Wednesday afternoon and actor Corbin
Bernsen is walking up and down an aisle through the cubicles at Reminder
Publications’ office saying the same line over and over.

Bernsen strides down the aisle, looks into the camera in the cubicle and
delivers the simple line, “Thank you very much, Sarah” about nine
different times. Each one is a different reading of the line.

It’s slightly surreal to have a well known actor – a long stint on “L.A.
Law,” films such as “Major League,” and currently a co-star on the USA
Network show “Psych” – filming in your office, much less, hanging out and
munching on donuts.

Bernsen is the star of a new film “Angel’s Blade 2: the Ascension”
written, directed and produced by Robert Stock of Granby. A day of shooting
needed to be at a newspaper office since Bernsen’s character is an
investigative reporter caught up in a story of the paranormal.

Stock’s crew took over the East Longmeadow offices for a day, much to
the delight of the staff of Reminder Publications. Autographed photos of
Bernsen decorate many cubicles.

Stock is a computer animator and games designer who produced, wrote, and
directed “Angel’s Blade,” a horror film set in both the present day and the
19th Century over a year ago. He did a test screening of the film in a Long
Island theater and is revising and augmenting some of the film’s special

Stock is co-producing the second film with Angel Light Pictures and,
unlike the first film, has a name actor in a pivotal role. Bernsen’s role is
a loving homage to “Carl Kolchak” the character created by the late Darren
McGavin in the highly popular “Nightstalker” movies and television series
from the 1970s.

An interesting coincidence is that McGavin’s daughter, Graemm, is the
film’s line producer. She also has a small role in the film.

This writer was heartened that his messy, artifact-strewn office was
deemed “funky” by the crew and became the home for Bernsen’s character.

Tony Timpone, the editor of “Fangoria Magazine” – the bible for horror
film fans – was also here for the role of Bernsen’s boss at the newspaper.
It was a smart casting move, as that will insure Stock receiving coverage
for his film in the national magazine.

The film has a four-week shooting schedule and only had Bernsen for
three days, so all of his scenes had to be shot as efficiently as possible.

Those who think filmmaking must be glamorous might be surprised at the
Spartan world of the independent production. A crew of less than ten people
set up the cameras and sound. Digital films gives greater flexibility with
lighting and no lights were set up for the scenes.

Fueled by donuts and coffee in the morning, the crew’s lunch break was
to eat sandwiches from Romito’s Deli while standing up. The production
rented a RV for a dressing room.

The simplest of scenes requires multiple takes to make sure the sound,
image and the performance are all optimal.

For a performer who has been in a variety of productions, Bernsen seemed
right at home shooting a low-budget horror film in Western Massachusetts.

“I’m very much into the indie world,” he said during a break.

Despite his status, Bernsen never pulls rank or complains. Crew members
talk among themselves how he is bringing so much value to the production.

If he likes a script and he can do the role, he’ll consider it, he
explained. Bernsen said he was pleased he could do this film as he was on
the east coast dropping his son off at the University of Connecticut.

Bernsen likened his job to that of a carpenter. “Sometimes you work on
castles and some times on outhouses,” he said.

And, he added, sometimes it’s a crumby castle and a great outhouse.

“If you’re an actor, you act,” he said.

What he likes about independent films is they have “more soul.”

“They’re all heart, all passion,” he added.

Because he came to prominence on a hit television show, “L.A. Law,”
Bernsen admitted to having a problem years ago with his career not reaching
a higher level. He said that as his career grew, he loved it.

He has formed his own company and is producing his own independent
films. One is completed and is available on DVD, “Carpool Guy, “ while two
others, “Donna on Demand” and “Dead Air” are in various stages of

Bernsen directed “Carpool Guy,” which is a comedy starring ten soap
opera actors in roles very different than those they play on television.
He said he loves directing and producing, although “it’s a lot of work.”

Although he said that beginning a directing career in his fifties
requires a lot of energy, his experience in the industry has given him
knowledge that younger persons might not have.

He said with a smile that directing has given him the same kind of
thrill he received when he first discovered sex – just the kind of remark
his Arnie Becker character might make.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


Mark Martin said...

Where's the picture of YOU??? Did you unbutton your shirt and expose chest hair too?

SRBissette said...

I want to see the photo of you jamming the dead dog in your pants, Mike!

CONGRATS, and glad you had this amazing day at the grind. Can't wait to see the film itself, and -- man, more typos in your opener today than your entire blog. What the -- ??

Mike Dobbs said...

Wrote this thing at 10:30 last night after a long day. I was very tired. I'm still very tired. I's smallest violin plays in background. Have fixed typos. Don't want fake dead dog in pants. I do like it on my desk, though. Would have loved to have had my photo taken but the opportunity didn't arise. I have no chest hair. Corbin has enough for the three of us.

dogboy443 said...

Did you ask him about his back hair?