Since it seems most Christian movies are docu-dramas, like I Can Only Imagine, or biblical dramas, like The Chosen, it’s exciting to come across films that are creative. That understand literary devices like symbolism and genres like allegories are not blasphemous (especially since Jesus set the precedent, vis-à-vis , parables).
Past Shadows is a sci-fi film featuring “The Hearing Aid Guy” himself, actor Robert Shepherd, who some media professionals say will become bigger than “The My Pillow Guy,” due to the endearing nature of the commercial he is known nationwide for Avento Hearing Assist – YouTube.
Also featuring Psych’s Corbin Bernsen, this marks the debut of Shepherd in his first starring role, though the beloved actor has over 100 credits on IMDb: Robert Shepherd – IMDb
It’s a welcome relief to the ennui of the never-ending documentary-style film-making endemic to Christian media. And counters it with creativity, as Shepherd experiences an exciting departure from his endearing persona as “The Hearing Aid Guy.” Playing the beleaguered Professor Charles Bando, in this supernatural thriller that he also executive produces, he is at the end of his rope, devastated by a tragic loss in his family. But when a mysterious artifact from the Holy Land is discovered, it helps heal the breakup, and ultimately leads to a miraculous reconciliation.
No spoilers here – readers will have to tune in to this film that will be be distributed by Bridgestone Multimedia Group in early April. Written by James R.Sanzo and directed by Peter J. Eaton, along with Bernsen, the veteran cast includes Jenn Gotzon Chandler, and Jim Chandler, among others: Past Shadows (2021) – IMDb
Past Shadows is also the third film Shepherd is in with Bernsen, including 2020’s The First Lady, and Mary 4 Mayor, a film produced by the Hollywood legend: Mary 4 Mayor (2020) – IMDb (Note: Mary 4 Mayor marks a return to the screen of the much-missed Amanda Pays, Corbin Bernsen’s wife. Pays was in the hilarious “Black and Tan” episode of Psych, starred in Max Headroom, and the original – and in this writer’s opinion – best rendition of The Flash.)
Shepherd sat down with CNJ (metaphorically speaking) to discuss his career, faith, and about working in films.
Robert, you are known nationwide as “The Hearing Aid Guy.” Can you share any fun encounters due to your immensely popular commercial?
I have been a professional actor for a long time, but Hearing Assist commercials have brought recognition wherever I go. I have people come up and say, “You are ‘The Hearing Aid Guy!'” Sometimes they want a selfie!
How did you become Executive Producer of Past Shadows?
My production partner, James Sanzo, and I, have had a small production company for over 10 years. Our first film, Push Came to Shove, was made about 10 years ago and is currently available on Amazon Prime. We worked for four years until we could get the right team together to make Past Shadows a reality. James is also the script writer for both films and has written several more scripts.
Christians rarely produce sci-fi or fantasy, so this is exciting! What can you tell us about the fantastical realms of Past Shadows?
We bill Past Shadows as a supernatural faith-based film. We want everyone to know that from our view these supernatural events come from God, not magic!
Your character is a far cry from the beloved “Hearing Aid Guy” or king in “The First Lady.” What can audiences expect?
The audience will see my character, Charles Bando, display many emotions as he deals with the hand he is dealt. He is a flawed man who seeks reconciliation. Hopefully, they will see my range as an actor.
Not everyone knows Corbin Bernsen is a believer, yet he’s been in and produced some excellent faith-based films, including “Rust” and “Christian Mingle.” How has your relationship with him developed as you’ve now been in three films together?
Corbin Bernsen has been such a blessing to get acquainted with. I first met him when I auditioned, and was cast in his film Mary 4 Mayor, which is scheduled to be released this spring, about the same time as Past Shadows.
When we were in pre-production, we knew we needed a recognized talent to elevate our film. I emailed him and asked if he would consider the film. He responded that if we could meet the availability for his schedule, he would do it. He definitely was doing us a favor, which I will always be grateful for. Never dreamed I would play his father in a flashback in First Lady.
Robert, thank you so much for your time! One last question: What can you tell other producers to encourage them to be more creative?
Past Shadows is outside the typical box for faith-based films. We believed in the story and persevered to get it produced and are delighted to have signed for distribution with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. So, I would encourage other producers to consider expanding the genre. God works His will in miraculous and supernatural ways. Just be sure to recognize He is the source.
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Kristen Collier is an illustrator, production artist, and graphic designer based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is co-founder with her husband, Kevin, of the MI Christian Talent Network, Creative Motion magazine, and Xian Wear apparel.