Corbin Bernsen Interview at Faith 'N' Film Summit 2012

         Corbin Bernsen, Filmmaker

The 2012 FAITH ‘N’ FILM SUMMIT Featured:

A Worship Service with Shane McCollum, Jennifer BoGray,
Comedy with Michael Jr., Interviews with filmmakers Corbin Bernsen and Kevin Sorbo, “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” A message from Dr. Ted Baehr, founder of Movieguide.com.
The panel discussion was moderated by John David Ware and entitled: "Show Me the Money: Funding Faith and Family Motion Pictures in 2012.”  The focus was on strategies in funding and what can indies learn from the studios (for a budget range from $200K to $15 million)?
Panelists included Genesis Capunitan, Senior VP Revolution Street Productions and Kurtzman/Orci Productions, Bobby Downes producer and founder and CEO of ChristianCinema.com and Chris Morrow, founder of EchoLight Studios.
Feature Film “25 Hill” screened by Corbin Bernsen, in which a father and son build a Soap Box Derby Car, but the work is cut short when dad is called to active duty in Afghanistan.  

The Faith 'N' Film Festival at NAB featured these "168" films: "Refuge," In Baghdad, a man is obsessed with a mysterious neighbor. Producers: Paul e Luebbers, Joel VanderSpek; director: Michelle Steffes (Los Angeles, CA)  WINNER: BEST FILM FNF FILM FESTIVAL, "InInk," A mysterious woman is the key to sacred scripture. Producer/director: Chris Wiegand (Dallas, TX), "Static," An astronaut's daughter misses her father. Producer: Brandon Carmichael; director: Luke Boney (Plano, TX), "Last Shot," An assassin asks, "Who cannot be redeemed by the hand of God?" Producer: Emil Pinnock; director: Damaine Radcliff (Burbank, CA), "Godless," A world without God, a girl without hope. Producer/director: Dwayne Tarver (a Write of Passage Film) (Perris, CA), Making of "Mirror Mirror" Behind the Scenes on a 168 Film. Producer: Doug Braddock; director: Steve Murray (Silverdale, New Zealand).


In addition to eight years on "LA Law," Corbin Bernsen has appeared on "Seinfeld" and "The Larry Sanders Show" and has been nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe awards. He starred in "Hello Again," "Disorganized Crime," "Shattered" and as the Cleveland Indians' third baseman-turned-owner Roger Dorn in the popular "Major League" films. Corbin appeared with Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang."

His many other film credits include "Judgment," "Tales From the Hood" and "The Great White Hype." He has two faith-based films ("25 Hill," "Barlowe Mann") due to be released in 2011. Corbin lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Amanda Pays and their four sons.  

Quotes are approximate.  JDW is John David Ware and CB is Corbin Bernsen.  His latest films are "Barlow Man" and "25 Hill."  Reading an article on the Soapbox Derby moved Corbin to write "25 Hill" to help generate sponsorship for the Derby, headquartered in Akron, Ohio.  His 4 kids inspire him to make moral movies with a spiritual bent to them.  

Having interviewed him and watched Corbin's process in filmmaking over the last year, I (JDW) have some insight into his 'psyche' and what he's trying to do (pun intended, Corbin stars in a USA Network series called "Psych").  

JDW: I tell people right or wrong, that Corbin is working out his spirituality on the screen for everyone to see.  It's such a beautiful technological age to be able to watch you do that.  What have you learned spiritually in the year since we've talked?

CB: Wow, this is gonna get deep.  I was raised as a Christian Scientist.  I had a foundation and like so many people, things just drifted away.  I always had a sense of God, a sense of Christ in me.  But, kind of like an atrophied muscle.  I hadn't been to the gym.  I am working it out.  My son, who's pretty much an atheist, he's 24.  We're at a family restaurant in Akron, OH on Easter morning, and he says, what do you need all that stuff for.  He's the art director on my film, so I know God's working his magical ways.  All these smiling people came over from church in their Wal-Mart best and the were so nice.  So I told my son, you can either have these people who've been in church and are touched by Christ, or you can go to the neighborhood where the shooting was the other night.  Which world do you want?  And he said, "You know ok, I get it."

What I'm trying to work through is...I don't wanna preach to the choir.  There's a massive group of people (and I'm that person) who want God, want Christ...they've been so distanced because of things that have happened.  But they want this in their lives.  They wanna bring this peace that was so integral to the foundation of this country.  One of my next movies is going to be an exploration of just being free to say God and give it to God.  I want people to feel free to... re-investigate faith in their lives.

Republican or Democrat, I don't care what you do, (It's by) the goodness in us directed by some moral barometer that is driven by faith in God and belief in human decency, that we will succeed.

JDW: Do you think America is redeemable, & if so, is it through Christianity or through film?

CB:  I believe in people.  I believe in this great gift from God (which is life).  I believe in all people...I believe it's all redeemable.  We just have to reach inside and touch that moral ground that God gave all of us, the smile, the joy.  We've just gone so far astray. 

 It's not even about morality.  It's about reaching in there for one second and 

As I say to people, you are witnessing my journey...watching me still working this stuff out.  I'll be honest with you, I'm still working this out...My journey is to lead people to the grand canyon and look at the magnificent sunrise with the reds and greens and blues and say... if you don't see God in that...If you just take one second to smell a rose and say, 'Wow, that's magnificent.'

JDW: People want miracles everyday and if they look around, they would see them.

CB: Everyday!  Every moment, look at your child... I look at and marvel at the way my beard grows or my hair (what's left of it).  I'm amazed at shaving.  I will probably be driven to insanity by marveling at the miracles of this incredible thing.

If people could just start (doing that) and as an extension of that, even if it's a placeholder, this is where I get into dangerous ground, just for a moment you call that God.  Just give it over to God.  Don't "pearly gates" it, don't "white beard" it.  People wanna get back to that. 

I'm doing this for me and that's the process of my films. 

Corbin talked about his worldview of film worldview: I believe there should be a Christian at the table, not because I want them to be right or I wanna change everyone's point of view.  92% of all people believe in God, I want that point of view at the table, if for no other reason than to have a good discussion.

JDW: With all your busy schedule, how is the juggling of family and producing and shooting?

CB: I simply do the things I love.  I love acting and it pays the bills.  I'm 57 and my dad just died and I got 1/3 of his ashes in a bag and I was looking at it and asking "Is that it?"  Does it stop at this ziplock bag?

I have four sons and I want to leave them with a world (that's better than this one is now).

My biggest problem is that I have a wife that doesn't get it (my struggle to understand faith).  She lives a Christian life and she's blessed for it, but she doesn't question it.  I'm given to fits of trying to take it all apart.  It's really important that in this world that's crumbling around us, that we have to have some faith back in our lives.

I don't even wanna address the hard issues.  I have great friends who are gay and I'm working through my thoughts on that and abortion and capital punishment...and that's the hard part of it, when you really start applying these beautiful, wonderful principles to these hard facts.  I'm not sure there are answers.  

JDW: Where did you get this kid in your film, Nathan Gamble, he's tremendous?  He's got better lines than you do.

CB: We had a big casting session and he wasn't my top choice, but something about him.  He was in "Dolphin Tale."  He's an incredibly gifted actor at 13.  It was if his dad died in Afghanistan.  It wasn't until the end of it that he told me he was Christian.  I didn't even know it through the whole film.  This kid just blows everyone away!

JDW: Is the Soapbox Derby saved?

CB: They just picked up a sponsor for 3 years, so... (APPLAUSE)
The movie comes out on July 2nd.  

JDW: How are you financing your films?

CB: I rob banks with a big cross on my chest.  (LAUGHTER)

JDW: That's deplorable, Corbin.

CB: It would be easier (MORE LAUGHTER).  I stay outside of the Hollywood system.  I raise money in these communities.  We have meetings and I get potential investors together.  Basically it's been pockets of money in these small towns.  "Rust" and "Barlow Man" were both funded by these small Canadian towns.  I talked to the economic development director and he said he could raise $500,000, so I was on the next plane and we shot "Barlow Man." 

JDW: We've got to wrap it up.  What would you like to leave us with?

CB: I am looking for one really rich Christian.  I really enjoy going into the communities, but it adds 6 months to the process.  And it does require being in touch with 20 people and letting them know everything you are doing, which is not bad, but I'd love to have a film fund.  But, He's making me work it.

JDW: How many pictures are on your slate that you wanna produce?

CB: I have one very funny Christian romantic comedy, "Christian Mingle," which is around the Christian Dating Website.   I was listening to Michael Jr. and I wanna do a film, "Good Cop, Christian Cop." Like "Good Cop, Bad Cop."  If one doesn't work, we'll try the other way.  

JDW: So Corbin, if we come up with a script for "Good Cop, Christian Cop," would you make it?

CB: You got a camera there, you got Michael there and me here, I say, 'let's do it.'

JDW: I want to thank you for coming.  I know you have to get up to Canada to shoot "Psych."

CB: Yeah you gotta pay the mortgage, but I really have enjoyed this and I really appreciate you having me here.  I look forward to seeing the film again.  Every time I watch it I get something new out of it.  They're my own movies, but they still inspire me to do more.

JDW: Well you inspire me and I think all of our audience as well, Corbin and we are really excited about watching you and watching what you do working out your salvation, working out your faith with fear and trembling as you make these films to inspire the world.  

CB: I wanna say one thing.  Dr. Ted Baehr has been my counselor through all of this and if it weren't for him, I might've given up.  He just keeps me being true.  

JDW: Any parting thoughts?  Do you have to leave?

CB: No I wanna watch everything that's going on.

JDW: Sweet, then you'll get to watch five 168 films and I promise, you'll be amazed.

CB: I was thinking I wanna do that.

JDW: Wow, you mean do a 168 film?  How about one with Michael Jr, Jenn Gotzon & Maggie Elizabeth Jones?

CB: As long as we win, man.  (LAUGHTER)

JDW: We'll I can't guarantee that...

CB: I do have a parting thought.  For anybody who's Christian, just invite people in, don't tell 'em what to be.  Just show them the beauty...take a rose and give 'em roses.