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Behind the Scenes with Tom Ohmer Star of THE BILL COLLECTOR
Tom’s parents raised him in Carmel, Indiana along with three brothers and one sister. After graduating high school in 1974, he joined the U.S. Army, where he served for three years. He attended Indiana University and, in 1981, he left for Hollywood to pursue an acting career.
He enrolled in numerous acting classes and soon landed his first part as Joan Collins’ chauffeur on the hit show Dynasty. He continued to study and act in various TV and film roles until 1988 when he decided to pursue another one of his dreams – becoming a police officer. Over the next several years, he worked for the Los Angeles Police Department, then the Simi Valley Police Department, while continuing to act in various TV shows, films and commercials in his spare time.
Tom recently retired as a full-time police officer and is currently focusing on his acting career. He continues to serve the citizens of Simi Valley as a Reserve Police Officer.
In 2006, Tom reunited with and married his college sweetheart, Marsha. They take part in numerous charity events and are very active with their community church. Tom is the proud father of three: his 2 boys and Marsha’s daughter, whom he adopted.
Question: As an actor, do you enjoy working within the genre of comedy? What are the challenges?
Tom Ohmer: I do like comedy, but my forte is really drama. My biggest challenge with comedy is “finding the funny.” So often, the type of comedy portrayed is just crass or vulgar and that’s not my style.
Question: What is your favorite genre? Why?
Tom Ohmer: I love police and military dramas – I guess because of my background. I particularly love the movies set in the 1940’s; that era is very special to me. My mother and her family were interned by the Nazis during WWII and the Americans liberated them. My mother then moved to the United States and married my dad, who was serving in the US Army.
I really appreciate the shows that portray our country in a positive light. I deplore the ones that try to make us look bad and think those films are very damaging not only to our country, our national security and our military, but also to the morale of our brave men and woman who protect us everyday.
Question: What do you do to get into character? Does the on-set preparation process change for you, depending upon the type of project?
Tom Ohmer: I do a lot of preparation to get into the character, before I get on the set. Once I arrive on the set, I am really comfortable with that particular character and am ready to adjust as the director sees fit. Some directors have very specific ideas about how they want the character portrayed; others are open to the actors’ interpretation and may make minor adjustments.
Question: What is the most important thing you’ve ever learned about acting – something that really changed the way you operate?
Tom Ohmer: I used to think acting was some kind of magical profession and that, if you did a great job on the set, the right people would see it and it would lead to other shows, other roles, other opportunities.
I now realize that there is more to it than that. It is a business and you have to treat it as such. I am very proactive in promoting my career through networking, seeking out mentors and maintaining my on-line presence. I feel it’s very important to be supportive of other actors – we’re all out there giving it our all. I’m a huge proponent of training and being prepared so, when an opportunity does arise, I can accept the challenge.
Question: What’s your favorite scene in THE BILL COLLECTOR and why?
Tom Ohmer: I like it when the thug Omar shows his vulnerable side, plays the piano and gives his life to Christ. That’s what it’s all about; it was a very touching moment.
Question: What are the top three things you wish you had known before you started working on THE BILL COLLECTOR?
That the majority of my scenes were going to be shot the very first day.
I was perceived as this “big Hollywood actor” flying in to do this movie. After filming began, they realized that I viewed myself as just one of the many talented actors involved in this great project.
That my cousin Larry Whittaker, a screenwriter who I invited to join me on location, would be so excited that he would keep me up all night talking about the shoot.
Question: What was the biggest hurdle that you faced during the production process, and how did you overcome it?
Tom Ohmer: The shoot schedule was set up in such a way that some of us had huge volumes of dialog compressed into one day. To meet that challenge, we all helped each other out with running lines and rehearsing. The director, Cris, also was extremely helpful by setting the tone of the set – very relaxed and stress free.
Question: What was the most significant lesson that God taught you, from a personal standpoint, during the making of THE BILL COLLECTOR?
Tom Ohmer: That publicly acknowledging Him in every arena brings positive energy and a healthy focus to whatever you are doing. I have been an actor for almost 30 years and I’ve never been on the set of a film that started each day with a prayer led by the director. It was so nice to begin work that way – it really put the focus and energy of the film in the right perspective. There were the usual production problems that face any film, but we always got it done.
Question: What’s next for you, Tom?
Tom Ohmer: I just finished doing a play at our church called “One Life.” It tells the story of God’s sacrifice of his son for us, using modern day metaphors. There are plans to take the play on the road and eventually turn it into a screenplay and feature film. There was a great article written about it in our local paper.
Other than that, I’ll be studying at my weekly acting workshop, doing voice-over work, auditioning and looking forward to the day I land a contract role!
Question: Any closing thoughts?
Tom Ohmer: It was a lot of fun doing a film with a bunch of like-minded people; what a great experience. Many of the cast and crew were volunteers and were some of the nicest people I have ever met.
I think most people will enjoy THE BILL COLLECTOR. It’s a fun movie that I feel very honored to be a part of. My wife and I have had the pleasure of attending several annual Movieguide® Award Ceremonies hosted by Dr. Ted Baehr. What an honor it would be if THE BILL COLLECTOR was recognized at the next Movieguide Awards®!
Article courtesy of www.Christian-Movie.com