A conversation with an award-winning writer of many things – Northern FanCon bound Marc Bernardin.
When I finish my conversation with writer/director Marc Bernardin – he’s next in the Magic Kingdom.
He works in the happiest place in the world – and can’t talk about what he’s working on. Could be Fantasy 2025. Could be a new storyline featuring The Rock based on the Matterhorn Ride. Or with bartender Ryan Gosling in The Tiki Room. Or all three.
I talk with the man about how he manages to balance work/life/family as a writer working in Hollywood. A busy writer.
Topics will include but are not limited to Knight Rider, Picard, Battlestar Galactica, fatherhood, Northern Fan Con, as well as Ridley Scott. And of course – a little Kevin Smith goes a long way.
Marc Bernardin is a journalist in a past life, but also an even rarer writer – a working writer who shows better than anyone the mixed and mixed power of writing.
Bernardin is also a comic book writer, series writer (both real-world and cartoon variety), graphic novelist, podcaster, as well as critical storyteller of most genres, and more. . He recently added the director to his title card and resume as the producer of his first film – the short. Glow’is locked as they say in the business – and in post-production.
Everything seems to happen Bernardin.
The aforementioned Disney concert aside – it’s been in writers halls of masters of the universe, Treadstone, Castle Rock, and more. As a creator, he learned to play with all kinds of toys – from He-Man, Skeletor (and all action figures – even Fisto!), to the world of Jason Bourne, to star trek and Stephen King, and more.
Adora and distance
Bernardin’s most recent public project – the graphic novel Adora and distance comes straight from the heart.
Based on her relationship with her own daughter, Adora tells the story of a young woman who lives in a fantasy world with underground pirates, ghosts and a mysterious force called “The Distance”. The Distance threatens to destroy everything, and only Adora can stop it.
“I think I had started writing Adora by now – there may have been more conversation in the media. But it’s perfect as a graphic novel. The comic form made it work – but it was also the only path that was open to me 15 years ago,” Bernardin says of the gestation of the story.
“I love the form of comics – and I love the art of comics. To hold a thing in your hands and open it up and be confronted with (art) is a thing of beauty – it’s is special.
“As Inspired As I Am By (Neil Gaiman) The sand man – being able to produce something for the same shelf is amazing. Comics were my first real literary love – adding to that canon, even a little – means a lot.
While he has played/created with other people’s characters and toys, working with his own creations brings its own rewards.
“As fun as playing with other people’s toys, playing with your own toys has value, validity.”
Last week, Bernardin was a guest on Late Night with Seth Myers at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York to speak Adora and distance.
“The work/life balance is always modulated for the best fuel/air mixture,” explains Bernardin.
“I’m just a dad who goes to work. It’s rarely a perfect world – and it hasn’t been long,” he says, noting two years of pandemic life.
“The idea is to take the kids out of school and have dinner with them every night. What happens in between is the changing part. Sometimes I’m home, sometimes I’m in the safe place,” says he about the “Disney location” he can’t talk to.
“There’s also a bit at night — from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. — that squeals on stuff. Reading, picking wool. All the weird vagaries that come with being a creative person for a living.
While you might think it’s easier to be creative while co-hosting a genre-based podcast named after Batman, airing from a Star Wars-themed Cantina on the right Hollywood Blvd. every week, but the fact is that Bernardin and Smith are individually and collectively good at de-romanticizing and breaking down the art of writing, producing and creating – at one of the highest levels.
“The process of being a writer is to be an import/export machine. Live a life – and be a receiver for the things you experience. Sometimes (it happens) on purpose, but often by unconsciously synthesizing that input – and finding a way to incorporate it into the work,” says Bernardin.
“Writing is about reflecting human experience and finding ways to apply different prisms to it. Part of that is living a life, being in the world – all water for the mill – everything.
Last fall, Bernardin raised funds, then later cast and shot his first film – the airliner-based “Splinter.” Quite simply, 2,396 people have pledged $234,360 to help make the project a reality.
Although he’s been involved in numerous writers’ rooms, on the set of a handful of series and/or movies, and has seen with his own eyes how the movie’s magic sauce is made, he has always been surprised while flying the Glow production.
“Kevin (Smith) likes to say ‘realizing is just answering questions’. For that answer to be objectively correct, you just need to have one and the ability to collect a lot of data in a short time. The pace is intense,” he says.
“The thing that stuck with me the most – the most important decisions you make are made before you get on set. When people do their jobs well and you get into production, you can trust their answers. Being able to trust the people around you to walk you through it,” he says.
“The filming/directing is going faster than you think. When it’s going – when the ‘orchestra is in sync’ – it’s an amazing thing to see.”
He is waiting Glow to be on the festival circuit this fall – and first seen by investors and supporters alike.
While the other half of the dynamic “Fatman Beyond” podcast duo Smith may think otherwise, Bernardin has never needed to say “it’s the way it is” when it comes to substances or legal or other defects regarding the art of writing.
“Substance has never been the way or the conduit. I appreciate a scotch or a bottle of beer, but I don’t need it to start writing/getting things done. I respect any writer who has found their way to creative juices. If these juices need to be fermented, so be it.
From the atmosphere of Glow in deep space on the Starship Enterprise.
Thirty years ago, a young ensign Marc Bernardin was an intern on a show called Star Trek. Deep Space 9. Flashforward to Stardate 2022 now sees Bernardin a supervising producer on picardthe return of Patrick Stewart and presumably his final laps as Captain Jean Luc Picard, bringing the final frontier back around Bernardin so to speak.
‘Learning to write’ INTERIOR. Enterprise: Picard walking across the bridge “is a ridiculous thing to do,” he says.
“It’s fun with life, and the more you can direct it, the more natural return points it has. What ignited my career was being a trainee on DS9.
This is not the first time that Bernardin has seen these science fiction returns.
“Right now I’m working on a Ron Moore show – I’ve been a Battlestar Galactica fan from the jump. Covering him as a journalist, then as a podcaster – working with him now and throwing ideas at him that he may or may not use as a writer, being in a room with Ron Moore is the dream of dreams.
Bernardin says this is a case where the work is inspiring in the moment.
“It’s putting fuel in the tank that I burn right away. Cold fusion.”
He says that while the pandemic was a personal and global toll, the professional writer in him was rising like a phoenix.
“It was all this awful, weird personal experience, and all the reasons the lockdown is awful, all of those things. Professionally it was great. Three or four writers’ rooms in those years – something that probably wasn’t possible before,” he says.
“As we begin to return to normal, there is still some strange weather with the geography of Los Angeles. ‘How long will it take to drive 10 miles – one hour? No. Zoom,” he said.
“I worked on a video game based in the Bay Area. I can’t move to the Bay Area for four months, but I can step in three days a week from home. I can do it while (working) in another writer’s room. (It can cause) neural implosions – but I can do both.
A return to normalcy and the old-fashioned handshake is what’s happening at Northern FanCon in Prince George in two weeks. Bernardin expects, like previous years on the panels, to create/create an old school TV episode and more.
“One thing I’ve started doing is a workshop. Let’s break down an episode – let’s go to the writer’s room. A year was a Knight Rider episode, another year has been A team. All of us in the room (Convention), generate an episode. “What does Michael Knight want, what two things is KITT going to skip,” I put it on a whiteboard and show the process. That’s what he is.”
For those looking for a live podcast during Northern FanCon, Bernardin says that’s likely in the cards as well. Traditionally, when Fatman Beyond isn’t available, another Dark Knight podcast is waiting backstage.
“I’ll probably do another ‘Blackman Beyond’ in Prince George.”
For writers and creators – one thing Bernardin has certainly learned from the man who plays Silent Bob – is to strive to be anything but silent.
“One thing I’ve learned next to Kevin for almost a decade now – is the ability to just talk to people. Let’s have a chat – and film the (stuff) for an hour and hope it’s fun .
These conversations and connections are why people attend Conventions, or Cons as they are called.
“The reason we go to Cons is to be around people who like the same things we do. If it’s someone who loves and supports my work, I want to thank them. I want to shake their hands. It’s polite.
Bernardin will be at Northern FanCon in Prince George, BC from May 13-15.
Grab some corn – and catch/listen to the full conversation with Marc and editor Rob here: