Interview with Actor David Berkenbilt

 
 

DB- My first acting experience was as a junior in high school where The Moonstone was being produced.  I decided to try out because I thought it might help me overcome some of my shyness.  I was surprised to get the romantic lead!  The director/English teacher/faculty adviser liked the way I said “Gloria!”  There was a sleep walking scene where this character had the stage, walking in total silence, then falling.  I’ll never forget feeling that tension from audience.  Much later as an adult, I tried some community theater but really didn’t have the time to commit to it.  I was a practicing pediatric dentist and new daddy, and needed to devote my time to that. I was offered a small part in ‘Dead Giveaway’ because I had recently done a 48 hour film and the director of that project was working with the director of  ‘Dead Giveaway’, and they needed an older guy for this small role.  It was a short scene, but it helped set the development of one of the main characters.   We were served some very nice sandwiches at about 1am by the real diner owners after the shot.  I guess they liked the way I cleaned up their counter area!

ED- The Eerie Digest would like to introduce actor David Berkenbilt to all of our readers. David, Please tell us about your early acting career and your role in the video ‘Dead Giveaway’.

 

ED- What was your inspiration to make acting your career?

DB-I guess it is a career at the moment.  It is a retirement activity.  I practiced pediatric dentistry for 30 years, but I always had an interest in music.  I went back to school to get a music degree, in composition, and after closing my practice, was connected with a marvelous voice teacher with extensive experience in theater who urged me to start auditioning for community theater shows, both musical and straight plays.  I’ve been delighted with the community and the experiences I’ve had, and seem to be doing shows back to back, mainly community, but even a few paid gigs, industrial, a few voice overs, fringe festivals.  Where there is an opportunity for an older guy, I go.

ED- You also portrayed Dr. Madden in the Roman Picture’s production of ‘Signals’. Tell us about your role and how you interacted with the other performers in the film.

DB-Dr. Madden was a neurosurgeon who took part in clandestine experiments which caused the hero and some of his offspring to have supernatural powers.  In this film Dr. Madden is explaining the situation to one of the offspring, about her son’s powers, describing what parts of the brain were affected, and how her brain was also affected.

ED- Describe the film and the production process of it.

DB- The film is a Sci Fi thriller involving this hero and his powers, with Russian agents, FBI and Secret Service.  The president also becomes involved.  All the actors are volunteers.  It was filmed in the Washington DC metro area, and other  venues.  Since I was involved in only one scene, I don’t know many more details about the production.

ED- Tell us about the film direction and about the crew for this project.

DB-Carlos Etzio Roman wrote and directed and was camera man in scenes in which he was not acting.  He also plays the main character.  He has a loyal following of people who work with him including his daughter and many close friends.  He has a very easy laid back and friendly way of relating to the actors and crew.  He also has to accommodate to many actor and location conflicts, and will rewrite a scene if necessary in order to keep the process going.

ED- In 2009 you appeared in the film ‘Modern Love Is Automatic’. Please describe this production and the theme behind the film.

DB-The story revolves around a young woman who is a nurse by day and a dominatrix by night. 

ED- What role did you play in this film and tell us about some of the other actors in it?

DB-Again, I play a doctor, a cardiologist, and the father of the nurse/dominatrix in this film, in a very short scene in which it becomes evident that he and his wife are completely clueless about their daughter’s evening activities. Again, I had no real knowledge of the rest of the plot at the time, and had little chance to connect with the other actors.

ED- This past year you appeared in the TV Documentary series for NOVA titled ‘Quest for King Solomon’s Mines’. This must have been very exciting for you. Please tell us all about this television project.

DB- I got a call from the producers of the documentary that they were desperately looking for an older man with a beard to play King Solomon in background scenes. When I arrived, there was another old guy with beard, the director chose me to be King Solomon, and the other man to be his consultant.  They filmed me in various situations, consulting, striding into the room, studiously writing on a parchment, looking “wise.”  I was in the studio for about 6 hours, about two hours of which were getting make up,   waiting for the scenes to be set up, and waiting for some other scenes to be shot with people whose time was very limited.  I actually was in three very short background scenes and probably had only one or two minutes of camera time.  The set up was in a room with lots of fog and many candles.  I was dressed in a toga, and sandals.  It was fascinating to me to watch the process, and had no problem repeating actions.  At one point the director told me that I looked sort of angry and reminded me that I was the kindest and wisest man in the world.  That was kind of cool!

ED- Describe your part in this production.

DB-  See above

ED- What other project is in your plans?

DB- I’m mainly involved with Theater projects  I recently played Alfred P Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” and the Mikado in “The Mikado.”  I’m also a member of the Hey Day Players, a senior performing group sponsored by the Round House Theater Education Department in Silver Spring Md.  I’m currently rehearsing a play, “No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs” by John Henry Redwood, a play about a rural African American family in1949  in North Carolina who is being visited and studied by a Jewish scholar.  The woman of the family is raped, and the play revolves around the conflicts that African American women had, in these situations and the scholar’s involvement, showing similarities of racial an religious persecution.  The play is very intense with moments of humor, an an overlying theme of love and support. I also do audio description for the blind in some of the professional theaters in the DC area, and am a volunteer reader for Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic.  I keep my eyes open for acting projects which might suit my type.

ED- David, we want to thank you for your time and we would like to wish you luck in all that you do. We hope to hear more about good things coming your way in the near future and hope that you keep The Eerie Digest posted about any of your future projects.