The making of… ‘Max Bishop’

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Jack Guggisberg holds the film slate as the crew prepares to shoot a cafeteria scene in Jefferenson Elemetary. (L to R) Jack Guggisberg, Chris Ackley, Billy Straub and Jack Beranek.

NEW ULM — For some New Ulm residents, the summer of 2018 will be remembered the as the summer Max Bishop came to town.

Who is Max Bishop? Max Bishop is the name of new independent film directed by New Ulm native Jack Beranek.

Starting in May, Beranek and the production team came to New Ulm to film scene from the film “Max Bishop.”

Beranek not only directs the film, but wrote it. Its about a hit-man named Max Bishop who takes a job as an elementary school janitor. Beranek described the film as dark-comedy and is simliar to “Kindergarten Cop” but with a whimsical Wes Anderson vibe.

“It is a strange movie with odd characters and off-kilter scenes,” Beranek said. “But there is nothing wrong with being a little different.”

Photos taken by Camera Assistant Ellie Drews Chris Charais films an intense scene filmed at the Cambria Quarry.

Beranek has always been drawn to making films that do not conform to expectations and “Max Bishop” has been a labor of love for him.

The film stars actor Chris Charais as Max Bishop. Charais is in nearly every scene of the film. Beranek said he wrote the film with Charais in mind and the actor is excited to play the part.

The film crew has been filming on and off in throughout the summer and a substantial portion of the film was shot in New Ulm. Since the film is set in an elementary school, Washington and Jefferson was used for principal photography. Around 15 scenes were shot at the New Ulm school buildings. The crew would rent out the school during the weekend to film. The production even used a few local children as extras.

For many of the film crew this is their first feature film. Beranek assembled most of the crew from the Twin Cities area. Several of the crew had work together on other productions.

Timing in at an hour and 15 minutes, the production is quite an ambitious feat when working with a smaller budget and crew. Even though the film is shot on micro-budget, they did praise the professionalism of everyone involved. The crew has managed to stay on task to execute Beranek’s vision.

Photos taken by Camera Assistant Ellie Drews Jack Beranek (top) Assistant Director Kevin Ackley (left) and Cinematographer Billy Straub (bottom) line up the actors in frame for the quarry shoot.

“He knows what is needed,” Cinematographer Billy Straub said. “It makes us feel confident when he says about a shot ‘that’s Max Bishop!'”

Art Director Kirsten House had the responsibility of dressing up the school to match the vision of the film. The school needed to be redressed to accommodate the scene. Her goal was to make the school look “desolate and sad,” which was difficult because Jefferson looks pretty on most days. One benefit was Jefferson’s color scheme. House said the purple color scheme worked perfectly for the film. It matched the tone they were looking for and it foreshadows the films ending.

The production also shot scenes at the Cambria gravel pit and the Lind House. A few reshoots were done throughout New Ulm, including a back alley off of Minnesota Street.

Beranek said New Ulm residents will be able to recognized key locations in the film, especially the LInd House since very little was done to redress the scenes filmed inside the historic home built by New Ulm’s only Minnesota governor, John Lind.

Beranek said one of the benefits of shooting in his home town is he was aware of what type of locations were available. In addition, he has contacts in town to help when needed. He admitted his mother may have helped with providing food to the crew on occasion.

“Max Bishop” is nearing completion. Beranek began editing the film while filming. He said after completing the sound mixing and coloring the film should be done by late 2018 or early 2019.

“We will definitely take the time that’s needed to get it right,” Beranek said.

Once the film is complete the next step is getting it in front of an audience.

“Our goal is to get into the film festivals,” co-producer Steven Sherman said. “From there we can use it to get additional distribution opportunities.”

Beranek said submitting a film to a the festival circuit limits how much you can publicly screen the movie. This means DVDs of the movie won’t be available until six to eight months after the film is finished.

Even though it will be months before New Ulm residents can see their town on the big screen, the turnaround time on the project is impressive. The production began in February 2018 and the project is expected be complete less than a year later.

Sherman said the cast and crew brought a ton of talent with them to the New Ulm shoot and he is looking forward to sharing the project.

“We hope that in conjunction with the festivals in spring 2019 we can have some local premieres in New Ulm, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Forest Lakes areas,” Beranke said.