Idyllwild International Festival Of Cinema is proud to name actor, director, and writer Wolfgang Bodison its Honorary co-chairman for 2015. As an actor, Wolfgang embodies the fabled Hollywood success story – the sudden and unexpected trajectory from mailroom to big screen feature role, the sort of story that makes, well, a good movie. From his breakout role as Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson in “A Few Good Men” in 1992, Bodison has built a solid career as an actor working successfully in both movies and television. Except that is not what he came to Hollywood to do.
For Bodison, the opportunity to work constantly as an actor for over twenty years, has been both a blessing and an interruption in the career he envisioned when he headed west from Rockville, Maryland to Los Angeles. Bodison had never thought of being an actor. He had always intended to write and direct.
As a fine arts major at the University of Virginia, he focused on writing courses, continuing an interest in storytelling he had had since childhood. “I had always loved to write short stories, even as a kid,” he recounted. Bodison said he first thought of writing for film when inspired by “Apocalypse Now,” he created a music video college thesis project using black and white images of kids playing war games, paired with U2’s song “Bullet to the Sky.”
“I moved to LA to pursue my dreams to be a writer and director,” said Bodison. He began working in the mailroom at Castle Rock Pictures. “I then worked on several of their TV shows as a production assistant and then was Rob Reiner’s set assistant on the film “Misery.” He next became location manager on Reiner’s film “A Few Good Men” starring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson. “I bumped into Rob one day at the office and he asked if I’d audition for the role of Dawson,” Bodison remembered. “I told him I had no acting experience but that I’d give it a shot.” He employed an acting coach, auditioned and got the role. A fulfilling acting career followed with major film and television roles.
Fast forward twenty years and Bodison is finally making his own movies, five of which screened at IIFC 2014 as part of the festival’s Featured Filmmaker series. “Years ago it was cost prohibitive to make your own films,” he said. “But now, with the arrival of the digital platform, you can. I realized I no longer had to wait for someone else to give me the opportunity. I could take matters into my own hands. The short film format gives me the opportunity I have always been looking for.”
The five films, “Two Bulls,” “Simone,” “Broken,” “Sarah’s Wish” and “The Long Wait”, showcased Bodison’s interest in character development. “When I first started writing it was the big picture action kinds of stories I was interested in. Now it’s the character pieces, the things that people work though every day,” he noted. “That comes, I think, from my years as an actor. In writing, I always look for hooks and twists, the element of surprise.
“As a director, working with actors is what I enjoy. Being an actor helps me in the work with other actors.” Bodison fine tunes his work with other actors by teaching at Playhouse West in Los Angeles, eight classes a week in the Sanford Meisner technique. “I’m still able to audition and work as an actor,” he said. Bodison has several feature length scripts in the works that he intends to see produced.
We are proud to have Wolfgang Bodison on board for Team IIFC for 2015, as Honorary co-chairman and Grand Jury panelist.