When I wrap my conversation with writer/director Marc Bernardin – he’s next off to the Magic Kingdom.
He’s working in the Happiest Place on Earth - and can’t speak to what he’s working on. Could be Fantasia 2025. Could be a new script starring The Rock based on the Matterhorn Ride. Or with Ryan Gosling bartending in The Tiki Room. Or all three.
I talk with the man on how he strikes a work/life/family balance as a working writer 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 former life, but also an even rarer writer – a working one who shows the cross-training cross-genre power of the written word better than most.
Bernardin is also a comic book writer, series writer (both real world and cartoon variety), a graphic novelist, a podcaster, as well as a critical raconteur of most things genre, and more. He most recently added director to his title card and CV as production on his first film – the short Splinter’is picture-locked as they say in the biz – and in post-production.
Everything seems to be coming up Bernardin.
The aforementioned Disney gig aside – he’s been in the writers rooms of Masters of the Universe, Treadstone, Castle Rock, and more. As a creator he has gotten to play with all kinds of toys – from He-Man, Skeletor (and all the action figures - even Fisto!), to the world of Jason Bourne, to Star Trek and Stephen King, and more.
Adora and the Distance
Bernardin’s most current public project – the graphic novel Adora and the Distance comes right from the heart.
Based on his relationship with his own daughter, Adora tells the story of a young woman who lives in a fantastical world with underground pirates, ghosts, and a mysterious force called “The Distance.” The Distance threatens to destroy it all, and only Adora can stop it.
“I think that I had started to write Adora now – there may have been more of a conversation of the media. But it is perfect as a graphic novel. The comic form allowed it to work – but it was also the only avenue I had open to me 15 years ago,” Bernardin says about the gestation of the story.
Bernardin recently guested on Late Night with Seth Myers at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City to talk up Adora and the Distance.
“The work/life balance is always modulated for the best fuel/air mixture,” says Bernardin.
“The idea is get the kids off the school, and have dinner with them each night. What happens in between is the part that gets to shift. Sometimes I’m at home, sometimes at the secure location,” he says about the ‘Disney place’ he can’t speak to.
“There is also a chunk at night – up from 10pm to 1am – grinding on stuff. Reading, the wool gathering. All the weird randoms that come with being a creative person for a living.”
While one might think it is easier to be creative while co-hosting a genre-based podcast named after Batman, broadcast out of a Star Wars-themed Cantina located on right Hollywood Blvd. each week, but the fact is both Bernardin and Smith are individually and collectively great at de-romanticizing, and breaking down the craft of writing, producing, and creating - at one of the highest profile levels.
“The process of being a writer is being an import/export machine. Live a life - and be a receptor for things you experience. Sometimes (this happens) on purpose, but often times unconsciously synthesising that input – and finding a way to put it in the work,” says Bernardin.
“Writing is about reflecting the human experience and finding ways of putting different prisms on it. Part of it is leading a life, being out in the world - all grist for the mill – everything.”
Last fall Bernardin fundraised, then subsequently cast, and shot his first film – the passenger-jet based ‘Splinter’. Quite simply 2,396 people pledged $234,360 to help bring the project to reality.
Despite being involved in many writers rooms, on set on handful of series and/or films, and seeing first hand how the movie magic sauce is made, he was still surprised while piloting the Splinter production.
“Kevin (Smith) is fond saying ‘directing is just answering questions’. Whether that answer is objectively right – you just have to have one, and the capacity to field an amount of data in a short amount of time. The pace is intense,” he says.
He expects Splinter to be onto the festival circuit this fall – and seen by investors and supporters first.
Thirty years odd 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 Picard, Patrick Stewart’s return and presumably his final laps as Captain Jean Luc Picard, bringing the final frontier back around for Bernardin so to speak.
“Getting to write ‘INTERIOR. Enterprise: Picard walks onto the Bridge’ is a ridiculous thing to get to do,” he says.
He says while the pandemic was a personal and global toll, the professional writer in him was rising like a phoenix..
“Everything was this weird horrible personal experience, and all the reasons lockdown is awful, all those things. Professionally it was awesome. Three or four writers rooms over those years – something that was not likely not possible before,” he says.
A return to normalcy and old fashioned handshaking is what is happening at Northern FanCon in Prince George in two weeks. Bernardin expects, as with previous years on panels, to workshop up/create an old school television episode and more.
“One thing I started to do is a workshop. Let’s break down an episode – let’s go into the writer’s room. One year it was a Knight Rider episode, another year was A-Team. All of us in the (Convention) room, generate an episode. ‘What does Michael Knight want, what are the two things KITT will jump,’ I put it on a white board and show the process. That is what it is.”
For those looking for a live podcast during Northern FanCon, Bernardin says this is likely in the cards as well. Traditionally when Fatman Beyond is not available – there is another Dark Knight of a podcast waiting in the wings.
“I’ll likely do another ‘Blackman Beyond’ in Prince George.”
For writers and creators – one thing Bernardin has certainly picked up from the man who plays Silent Bob - is strive to be anything but quiet.
“One thing I’ve learned next to Kevin for almost a decade now – is the ability to just talk to people. Let’s chat – and shoot the (stuff) for an hour and hopefully it will be fun.”
These conversations, and connections are why people attend Conventions, or Cons as they are called.
“Why we go to Cons is to be surrounded by people who love the same things we do. If it happens to be someone who likes and supports my work – I would like to thank them for this. I want to shake their hand. It feels polite.”
Bernardin will be at the Northern FanCon in Prince George, British Columbia, running from May 13-15.
Grab some corn - and catch/listen to the full convo with Marc and managing editor Rob right here: