There are Hollywood family dynasties that everyone knows: the Barrymores, the Clooneys, the Coppolas. They’ve been making movie magic for generations. But there are other families that no one would recognize who’ve been in the business for just as long.
These are not the families with the star on their door. These are the families who hang the star on the door and adjust the lighting to make sure the stars shine brightly, like the family of Justin Bernhard of Marietta.
“That’s how this industry started, families working together and teaching each other,” says Justin. “Now it’s so big more people have the opportunity to work on films and get a foot in the door.”
Justin Bernhard was born into the film business. His family has worked on all aspects of film from rigging to running a talent agency. His great-grandfather was a stuntman who worked on the “The Jackie Gleason Show.” Justin’s father, Chick Bernhard, was a child actor who appeared on “Flipper” and moved on to become a stuntman and coordinator. He still works on films. Justin’s grandmother owned a talent agency and his dad, his siblings and his cousins were child actors.
Justin started working on films as a kid. He worked on and off in the family business for 15 years and has been steadily working the last seven years. He and his wife, Christine Bernhard, who also works on films, moved from Florida to Marietta to work in Georgia’s booming film industry.
“The film work in Georgia has been nonstop. There’s more work than you can handle right now,” says Justin. “We started working in Florida until the tax incentives went away and everything came up to Georgia. That was the reason we moved to Georgia, to keep steady work.”
Justin is now a rigging grip on the pre-rig unit in charge of controlling the lighting and safety for the crew. They get everything ready for the first unit that does the filming. He learned rigging while setting up for stunts for his father. Justin kept hustling to get on a rigging crew in order to learn the intricacies of the craft. He’s been working steadily as a grip for the past five years.
Some of the films he’s worked on are the “Hunger Games” series, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, “Furious 7”, “Insurgent” and “Office Christmas Party”. One of his favorite movies to work on was “Furious 7” because it gave him opportunities to do a lot of big rigs on complicated action scenes. Justin is working hard to keep the family dynasty alive.