An exclusive interview with producer, writer, director & actor Corbin Bernsen

Corbin BernsenDove: Many people know you as an actor but we’ve followed your filmmaking career over the past few years.  3 Day Test is the first comedy we’ve seen from you.

Corbin: “On a bigger scale it goes to a goal that I have which is to just make a good movie.  One of my longer goals is to have a movie that is more traditional than most faith films.  In comedies, you don’t typically think about faith.  Faith movies are usually more message driven, heavy handed and stay on point.  I feel we’ve succeeded in our own way with a modest budget, modest crews, and modest resources in making a more commercial movie.  If someone wants to go away with the faith message and take it home with them that’s great but someone else may say it’s just a fun movie and I think that’s great too.  Humor is a beautiful gift God has given us so lets not make everything too serious.”

“My journey is to keep opening up to God – to get closer and closer.  I’ll never get completely there.  The more I question, the closer I get.  I tell people the coloring book of my life and the presence of God in my life is richer with everything I experience.  Right now, it’s all about truth, love, beauty, kindness and grace.  To know those things, you have to know humor.”

Dove: We’ve noticed that your films all have subtle messages of faith but aren’t preachy.  Why have you chosen this path?

Corbin: “Our films have faith elements but really focus on entertainment for the family.  The fact that there is faith in them is important to me because my personal belief comes from a Christian worldview.  Family to me is essential.  It’s the very foundation block of which we can build society.  We build our families strong, our strong families build communities, communities build main street, main street builds countries, countries build nations, I think it starts with families.”

“As you know I like analogies.  Sometimes a family can become comfortable like pair of old shoes.  They feel comfortable, protect you from the warm pavement or the rocky path but if you wear a shoe too long, the laces begin to loosen, they fray and I think it’s important to keep the laces strong.  Faith is like the laces that hold families together.  It plays a behind the scenes role.  We look at the family and make sure we have money and food on the table and all these great expectations.  You look at the sole of the shoe before you do the laces.  The laces play this quite role in everything we do.” 

Dove: You are very involved in your movies.  As an actor, writer, director and producer you certainly have your hands full with each project.  What do you attribute your success to?

Corbin: “On an experiential side I have 35 years in this business.  I didn’t say all of the sudden, ‘Hey, I’m in a church and I want to make movies about God.’  I have a grounding in the art and history of my craft and I think that brings a lot to it.  But more specifically God is the master producer.  My pursuit toward God is a pursuit of truth.  There is simplicity in that.  Without meaning to sound esoteric, there is a correct sofa in a scene and an incorrect sofa.  My goal is to combine the right elements in everything I do.”

“Detail is everything to me.  Detail is about the truth.  You see it in nature.  God is the author of nature.  You can’t see a mountain range or a river flowing and not feel God’s presence in that because as C.S. Lewis once said ‘everything is as it awt be.’  I try to incorporate that sense of awe in our movies because I think that’s what people will respond to.  My friends have told me that I have done my best acting in my own movies.  I think that’s because I’m so busy with so many other things that when I step in front of the camera their is not one moment of my head getting in the way.  I simply have to stand there and say the lines so I can move on to the next thing.  There’s simplicity in that.  When I’m just acting for hire, I’m in my dressing room, taking a phone call, doing an interview, say ‘hold on, I’ll be there in a second guys’, then try to jump into a scene, interpret it, then get back out to do something else.  When I do my movies, I’m in the zone, I’m in the game.  I don’t have to think about it.”

Dove: Of all the hats you wear on a project, do you have a favorite?

Corbin: “I do like the ‘trifecta’ of the writing/acting/directing.  The producing part; raising money, selling the films, all the things you have to do, you sometimes feel like you’re manipulating people to make that part work.  As someone said to me recently ‘it’s playing the game’, I’d rather not do that part but it’s a necessary evil.  You’ve got to have money to make a movie.  Then you’ve got to be responsible to the money.”

“My most direct communication with God is in the writing.  When I’m directing its all about the detail but when I’m looking at a blank page, I’m sitting with the Lord, looking at a blue sky and saying ‘where are we going? What do you want?  Take my pen and guide me.’  That is the deepest part of the three and when it works that’s what I take the most pride in – sometimes we’re allowed to be proud.”

Dove: Were there some challenges in making 3 Day Test?

Corbin: “You know who I am and what I want to accomplish.  My mission is to say to people, ‘open your arms and say it just might be possible.’  The difficulty is the business part of it.  In the pursuit of the mission, the economics of this business are that if you do an ‘alter call move…a come to Jesus move…a stick to the scripture movie with imagery that is specifically Christian’ you’ll do good business – if you can tell a good story.   But those movies aren’t going to make somebody new say ‘maybe I’ll consider all of this.’  In fact you could argue that somebody who is against [Christianity] could be driven further away.  The difficulty for us is that the movies we make are not ‘alter call’ movies.  Pastors aren’t going to stand in the pulpit and say ‘3 Day Test’ is the kind of movie that will change your life.  So do I start sticking stuff in my movies just to ‘play the game?’ Do I alter the truth of what I want to be doing to make my movies fit-in with a specific targeted audience?  I don’t see a lot of Christian comedies out there but I think we’ve weaved those two elements together into this film in subtle ways.”

Dove: We think so too!  We encourage you to take a look at Dove’s review of “3 Day Test” and if you like what you see, pick up a copy and continue to support family values in entertainment.  If you do, Corbin and others like him will continue making film’s that your family can watch together.

Read Dove’s Review of “3 Day Test”