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Turn of the Blade

In order to secure financing, I wrote the screenplay for this feature film in 30 days! I used my nickname — Mark Bark (and pretended to be Canadian) — to qualify for “Canadian Content.” As such, the film played all over Canadian television for years.

“Swear to God, Officer, I didn’t shoot Tupac!” Actor David Jean Thomas ‘arrests’ me in the parking lot outside of our location shoot in the San Fernando Valley.  Our shooting days were long–14 to 17 hours each for 17 days straight (non-union)!

Checking out the next shot with director/producer Bryan Michael Stollar.  Apparently, we both liked it!

I also acted in the film as the “Stagehand.” This is a “continuity shot,” which is used to ensure that my outfit/look was consistent every day of the shoot.

The World of Albert Ash

A Skitcom created by Mark Barkawitz and Albert Ash

In the summer of ’86, actor Albert Ash and I collaborated on a 30-minute skit-com, “The World of Albert Ash.”  Our Guardian Angel and Executive Producer—Shirley “Jake” Berk—financed it. (Total cost–$4000) We kept the budget down by shooting in the PCAC Public Access Studio that Pasadena once had in the basement of McKinley School on Del Mar Avenue.

Gary Cambell was the Production Manager at the studio.  So naturally I drafted him on our crew and, as such, we got a lot of studio time we might not have otherwise procured.  I made a deal for the cost with PCAC, by giving them a copy of the completed tape and allowing them to play it on their station for as long as they liked, which they did every week for I don’t know how long.  We got a few good nibbles at one of the networks, but eventually they passed.  One seller for The Playboy Channel said: “It’s good enough to pitch.” He took it with him to an Australian film & TV festival, where we got beat out by a Rob Reiner project. (Budget 1M.) 

In ’88, the Soviet Union introduced perestroika, which allowed its citizens the freedom to leave its confines for business opportunities in other countries. Two Russian reps opened an office in Hollywood and contacted me; I sent them a copy of our show.  Never heard back from them.  Their office closed; phone lines went dead.  As a producer buddy of mine later opined: “They’re probably playing it on Russian TV right now.  No dollar cost.  Pure ruble profit.”

Perestroika was short-lived.  And is blamed by some for the eventual fall of what once was the sprawling Soviet Union.

Productions - The World of Albert Ash

Crew L-to-R: Emerson Terry, Gary Campbell (eyes only), Kevin Cloud Brechner, Sunglasses (forgot his name), Tammy kissing baby Al’s butt, Mark Bark kneeling, & Courtney sitting.

Mark Barkawitz making it snow in the basement.

I’m making it snow in the PCAC basement studio for our “Snowed In” skit. (That plastic snow is expensive!)  Janna Brown and Albert are on the chairlift.  We blue-screened the moving background of the mountain, which I had previously shot, while riding the chairlift up The Face of Mt. Waterman. I actually bought that chair for 50 bucks from Mt. Waterman when they put in new chairlifts.  It was one of the first chairs in the San Gabriel Mountains.  I still have it in my backyard!

Albert in make-up for “The World of Albert Ash” opening.f

Mark and Albert at the premiere.

Albert and I at our premiere.

Albert holding his baby picture.

Albert holding his baby picture.

Tammy, Albert, and Mark in makeup before a shoot.

Tammy, MB, & Albert in makeup before a shoot.