Production work continues on the movie that was shot in Ceres last summer.
Corbin Bernsen is producer and star of the Christian film, “Life With Dog,” which is billed as “coming soon” on his production company website, www.hometheaterfilms.com where a trailer of the film is available for viewing.
Bernsen and actress Marilu Henner were in Ceres in July to film scenes at the intersection of Kay and Magnolia streets where Henner’s character is fatally struck in a bicycle crash. Filming also took place at the Ceres Police Department headquarters. Most of the movie was shot, however, inside and outside a quaint older home on Columbia Street in Turlock on the campus of Westside Ministries.
The local cooperation offered the actor-producer-director in Turlock and Ceres for the film was overwhelmingly positive and aided in stretching the shoestring budget of his independent film. He experienced this kind of hospitality once before, in December 2013 with the filming of “Christian Mingle” after a Turlock businessman fronted financing of the faith-based film.
“Ceres was great,” said Bernsen during a 2017 interview with the Courier. “God bless them. Their police department came through as aces. They just really did an incredible job. I will tell you, they singlehandedly gave a grounding to the film because of these arrests, these police things and we’ve got these real guys in the real cars, real handcuffs, doing the real thing. I bought basically seven cop uniforms to stick on extras and these guys were the real deal and for a little production it gave a great grounding. When I come back I really want to involve the town of Ceres. I didn’t know Ceres that well.”
Ceres police officers used in the production do so as volunteers and not on city time.
Bernsen had already had scouted Southern California for the house to use in the film but community cooperation made the difference between choosing Stanislaus County over Los Angeles.
Bernsen wrote the faith-based script but tried his best to steer clear of making it a corny Christian film.
“There are certain elements of faith in all religions and those basic elements are love and compassion, mercy, grace, forgiveness – all of those things. This movie deals with forgiveness. I identify as Christian, that’s my faith and there’s certain elements in there, whether it’s a cross or references to Jesus. God is somewhat universal so yeah, they’re faith-based movies but they’re human stories and stories of forgiveness.”
In the movie, the house is the centerpiece of a development battle as it is being crowded by newer housing. Joe is convinced that his wife was intentionally run down by someone in the development community to get him to sell out and move. He said the concept was based on a real-life story of an arson fire used to burn out a stubborn property owner. In the end “it’s really the man’s paranoia,” surmised Bernsen.
There were times on location when Bernsen doubted the project. For one thing, the heat that July became oppressive for all involved, including movie dog Monty which is a key ingredient of the film.
The movie also features Chelsey Crisp of ABC’s TV sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat” who plays Zoey, the couple’s daughter. She was in Turlock or four days of production.
The low-budget production had a scant cast of some local actors. Clynton Lamur, who appeared in “Perfect Choices,” “Strays” and “Me Again,” has a key role playing Detective Rollins. Scenes were shot at Oak Valley Community Bank on Geer Road in Turlock where Rebecca Bjerke played a bank employee and Andrew Burkum – a Chase bank manager and local stage actor – played the bank manager. Local actor Dave Weltner plays a Pastor Frank.
Bernsen is no stranger to Bernsen is no stranger to the Valley. His mother, the late actress Jeanne Cooper, grew up in Bakersfield where he spent lots of Easters with his grandparents in Taft.