by Edwin L. Carpenter, Editor -
The Dove Foundation
Bernsen has some impressive credits behind him, including acting in L.A. Law,
Touched By An Angel, Nash Bridges and Suing the Devil. Now the successful actor
has turned filmmaker and his recent family-oriented film, 25 Hill, which he
wrote, directed and also stars in, has received the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal
for all ages.
The Dove Foundation spoke by phone with Mr.
Bernsen recently and his enthusiasm about the reception 25 Hill is receiving was
evident. The film focuses on a young boy named Trey Caldwell (Nathan Gamble)
whose father died in Afghanistan. He had been working on a Soap Box Derby car
with his father and hoped to finish the project with his dad. Enter local fire
Chief Roy Gibbs (Bernsen) who works with Trey on the car and on the finer points
of racing. Trey, in turn, is good for Gibbs, getting on him about his constant
drinking which in large part is due to losing his son during 9/11.
Dove: Corbin, you wrote this film and
directed it and acted in it. You practically did it all.
Corbin: “Yeah, you know we’re trying to carve
our little niche here.”
Dove: With your successes in acting, what
prompted you into filmmaking?
Corbin: “My Master’s degree in college was in
playwriting. I’ve always written, I’ve written screenplays and tried to sell
them. I’ve wanted to direct at times. But you know, I waited, I waited and I
waited. It’s interesting because I’m fifty seven now and I really sort of
ventured into making films if you will. Obviously I’ve been around filmmaking.”
Corbin added that it was interesting and
different for him to now be the source of the material for his films to be made,
with his writing and directing and doing behind-the-scenes work.
Dove: With the Soap Box Derby being a big
part of this film did you purposely include that theme so as to give people
interested in the sport a chance to cheer?
“It started out that yes I wanted to bring recognition to the Derby. I wanted to
bring revenue to the Derby. It’s interesting the way things unfold once you put
your heart into it. Looking around at the core of the Derby what I’ve discovered
is this notion of teamwork and respect, the family and community which is what
the Derby’s all about. While I took it on as a project to help the Derby it
started becoming a bigger picture for me, the Derby and what it represents. The
fact that it’s disappearing is a mere reflection of society losing those values
of teamwork and respect and family and community, certainly as far as teamwork
and respect in Washington—we see the erosion of that. If you lose the Derby you
lose the metaphor, you lose the country. So although it started out for the Soap
Box Derby, it has become much more for me.”
Dove: Did the writing and thinking evolve a
lot during the process of making this film?
Corbin: “The writing came very quickly; I’ll be
honest with you. The promotion of the movie now is actually what is evolving.
It’s not just about the Derby, it’s about the country. I think the movie to some
degree plays on a larger level than a good sports movie that’s got a few
tear-jerker moments and ‘save the derby’; I think this is what’s happening in
the country. You know you’re guided to do certain things and after my dad died I
just sort of opened my heart to all of it and it’s something that feels right.”
Corbin went on to say that he saw an article
about the Soap Box Derby while sitting on a plane and the picture of making this
film became clearer as time went on.
Dove: Sometimes the purpose we have changes
and yet it becomes a purpose even more noble than we originally intended.
Corbin: “That’s one of the beauties of life. I
don’t think the purpose or plan, no matter how much you plan it’s not what it
appears to be.”
Dove: What’s some of the pluses of having
made this film?
Corbin: “Some of the pluses on a personal level
are that some of the people in the Derbies have shared incredible stories. Some
of the comments made are like, ‘Thank you for making a movie about the life that
Corbin said that the film has helped local
derbies raise money for the sport. He added that a track in Culpepper, Virginia
is building a premiere track and the movie has helped their fundraising efforts
as it has heightened awareness of the Derby. He has been showing the movie on
what he calls a “derby tour” and he targets areas which have derbies and invites
people new to the sport to come see the film. “Watching their faces has been one
of the highlights of the filmmaking process” he said.
In closing Corbin said the film was made in
Akron, Ohio, and he loves the community feel of filmmaking and in future
projects wants to keep his films community-involved. “I love the notion of
community,” he said. “I love making films about community, for community, by
Read Dove's Review of 25 Hill