Tara Westwood appears in a scene from the short film “A Mother’s Nature.”
Brody Bernheisel chose Harpswell for the first short film he has written, directed and produced, and it was a success. “A Mother’s Nature,” a six-minute narrative, was shot off Mountain Road in June 2021 and won awards nationally and internationally.
Bernheisel and his wife, Carrie Erving, live in New York City. Erving’s mother, Nancy Grice, has a home on Mountain Road, where the couple stayed during the COVID-19 pandemic. They now co-own the home with Grice. “We have foreseeable roots in Harpswell. I try to be up there as much as possible,” Bernheisel said in a telephone interview.
Bernheisel, who produces commercials nationwide, won best first-time director in the Best Actor and Director Awards — New York. Tara Westwood, the star of the film, was named best actress at the 2022 Berlin (Germany) Shorts Awards, as well as last year’s San Francisco Indie Shorts.
Other international recognition includes selections as finalist in last year’s Paris International Short Festival and this year’s Hamburg Film Awards. It was last year’s “official selection” at both the Venice Shorts and Amsterdam Short Film Festival, and was chosen in the same category for the (Las) Vegas Shorts.
The film — see it for free at vimeo.com/623908621 — is based on a true story. Bernheisel said he and his mother were at a lake in Michigan some years ago when she spotted a man’s body in the water, dragged him to shore and attempted to revive him. “In the real-life situation, the person in the water died,” Bernheisel said. “When the emergency crew arrived, she just came home. She was very muddy, worried and distraught.”
“A Mother’s Nature” cost $20,000 to produce and was shot in the area of Lombos Hole and Reach Road. When Bernheisel needed an ambulance on set, producer Joel Inchaustegui rented a Brunswick ambulance and medic’s time for a day.
“When you’re doing projects Ike this with a lot of people putting love and positive energy in, you yield good results. The team is crucial,” Bernheisel said.
Bernheisel said he didn’t have any expectations from the more than 40 festivals he entered. “It panned out,” he said. The awards helped make up for what he said has been “a pretty traumatic year.” He had a rough case of COVID-19 and his best friend died in a Colorado avalanche. “You take it as it comes,” he said. “Having the film win awards — those are the things you don’t really expect.”