Becoming Van Vlack

by Chas Christopher Harris


IDEA

The idea for BVV started in October 2019, in Los Angeles one night at The Farmhouse on Third street. I was out to dinner with a bunch of folks, including my niece, Christina. At one point she blurted out “Uncle Chas, you have a Television show in you, c’mon just write it already.” I thought about it briefly, continued my week in LA and headed back to DC. Right after that, the pandemic hit. We all know what happened with that: lots of time to stay home and develop some new hobbies. I began writing Episode 1, in early December 2019 and continued into mid-2020.

 

CASTING

  • We were in shutdown nationwide which was problematic for casting. I originally had no plans to play Vincent. I have acted in the past (40 years ago) but was somewhat rusty. I took the part mainly because I felt I had to.
  • I saw Lisa Eskew, a friend from church, on a video for St. Paul’s. She really popped on camera. There was our Georgia. I was amazed she agreed to do it but so happy that she did.
  • John Paul Odle, a local actor here in Alexandria, I had seen in various productions at The Little Theater, and Aldersgate Community Theatre. He agreed to play Christian and helped with some of the writing in Episode 1. Many thanks, John Paul.
  • Christina Burdette, the niece who strongly suggested I write the pilot in the first place, agreed to play Lacey. Christina is multi-talented and will be successful in whatever she does. I’m proud to be related to her.
  • Maggie Bengtson is a young actress, now in College, whom I’ve known for years. She became our Katie and is an absolute joy to work with.

The rest of the folks fell into place, one by one. Some old friends, some new friends. Some from acting classes at The Little Theater. A few of them I’m sure just did the pilot as a favor to me. I’m amazed by all of you, and  I think you’re all great. A big thank you  to Anthony, Tim, Kevin, Latonya, Omar, Pat, Debi, Lisa S, and the whole crew.

PRODUCTION

What do you do when you have a TV pilot to shoot, during a pandemic? You call your good friend, Clark Bavin, owner of Vid-Sol Media and he comes to the rescue with crew, cameramen, makeup teams, the whole nine yards. Little did we know that this project would go on for over two and a half years. Pandemic shutdowns, covid scares, script rewrites and reshoots. I was amazed seeing the first rough cuts of what we shot. “It looks like a real television show.” Well, yes, it does. A huge thank you to Clark for everything. You have been superb throughout this whole process and a great listening ear. I look forward to a long working relationship with you.

 

COACH and Story Editor

I was lucky enough to become acquainted with Rick Lore from the Little Theater in Alexandria.

Rick Lore

Rick had a long career at PBS, but upon retirement, returned to his first love, acting. I took four of his classes,  he became my coach, and was a tremendous help on the latter parts of production on Becoming Van Vlack. He was happy to preview and edit scripts and I greatly appreciated all of his suggestions and input.   We did the final reshoots of the show last fall and Rick agreed to direct the reshoot of the scene in Brussels. Rick and I had an easy, familiar relationship. It’s nice to make a new friend at age 63. Anything that’s good in the Episode and anything you like is because of Rick and Clark. I turned myself and the show over to their talents. Sadly, Rick was diagnosed with cancer last fall and passed away in March 2023. We all have a big hole in our hearts, and we will all miss him terribly.

What he contributed to our show is immeasurable.

 

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