‘L.A. Law’ actor Corbin Bernsen picks Turlock for his next film

Actor Corbin Bernsen is shooting a movie he wrote and will direct in Turlock starting Dec. 3, 2013. The film is a project under his new faith- and family-based production company Home Theater Films.
Actor Corbin Bernsen is shooting a movie he wrote and will direct in Turlock starting Dec. 3, 2013. The film is a project under his new faith- and family-based production company Home Theater Films. Home Theater Films

Lights, camera, Turlock.

Former “L.A. Law” and current “Psych” actor Corbin Bernsen has selected the Central Valley city as the location for his next movie. The as-yet untitled romantic comedy, which Bernsen wrote and will direct for his production company Home Theater Films, begins filming the first week of December.

“We’re very excited to head up to Turlock and make our next community-based film. That’s really what Home Theater Films is all about – making movies with a community for community,” Bernsen said.

But before the cameras roll, the production needs to cast about 200 speaking, walk-on and extra roles. Open auditions will be held Nov. 25-26 at the Pet Extreme in Turlock. Anyone over the age of 18 is invited to try out.

Bernsen gained fame and acclaim playing powerful divorce lawyer Arnie Becker for all eight seasons of the hit legal drama “L.A. Law.” The role earned him Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. The 59-year-old actor crossed over to the big screen as well, starring in “Major League” and its sequels among other movies. In 2010, Bernsen began writing and directing his own projects for Home Theater Films. His company has released four films so far, all with a family and faith-based focus.

Bringing Bernsen to Turlock was the culmination of hard work and persuasion by the fledgling Turlock Film Commission. The group was founded by Creation Lab owner Michael Everett with Turlock Chamber of Commerce CEO Sharon Silva two years ago, with the mission to bring more film projects to the city.

“Hopefully this (film) will be one of many we can do here,” Everett said. “It will bring money into the economy. You bring a lot of vendors, hotels, catering, electricians, carpenters, painters and more into a project like this. It reaches a lot of different people.”

Everett said no financial incentives were offered to lure the full-length feature production to Turlock. But he estimates the project could pump as much as $250,000 into the local economy.

The film, about a young woman who goes looking for love online, will be shot about 80percent in Turlock, Everett said. Local businesses including 10 East Kitchen & Tap House and Main Street Footers will serve as locations for shoots.

Everett said Turlock will substitute for a large city like Los Angeles or Chicago, and much of the filming will be done in the downtown area. Everett and Creation Lab partner Matt Swanson will serve as producers on the project. Bernsen visited Turlock earlier this month after a mutual friend of Everett’s recommended the city to him. Once there, he said, he knew he had found his location.

“We picked Turlock specifically because of its small-town charm and hospitality. My mother’s side of the family is from Bakersfield/Taft, so I’m really familiar with the Valley,” he said. “While the film is being shot in Turlock, we will be reaching out to nearby towns like Modesto for talent and even perhaps a few small roles.”

Bernsen will attend the open casting call later this month, which will fill a variety of limited speaking, walk-on and extra roles. The production also is looking for behind-the-scenes help and volunteers to work on the movie. Filming will run about two weeks, starting Dec. 5 and ending Dec. 18.

While the Central Valley is no Hollywood when it comes to movie locations, the region has made a handful of notable screen appearances. Modesto’s historic Seventh Street Bridge, or Lion Bridge as it’s affectionately known, was used in the teen comedy “Dead Man on Campus” in 1998. The film starred “Saved by the Bell” and “NYPD Blue” heartthrob Mark-Paul Gosselaar and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” alum Alyson Hannigan, now starring on “How I Met Your Mother.”

Stockton’s University of the Pacific has stood in for ivy-covered colleges in films for decades, including both the first and most recent “Indiana Jones” movies – “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Everett said interest in Bernsen’s film has been tremendous throughout the region. He had some 200 emails waiting for him after the news of the auditions was announced. “Turlock is crazy and the vendors are excited for this,” Everett said. “This is a big deal, trying to think of the last major motion picture to come to the area. It’s very, very exciting for the Central Valley.”