Whether it’s a handlebar, a goatee, or a meager collection of peach fuzz, facial hair is not usually invoked as a muse.
“I have had a fascination with mustaches for a very long time — before it was the thing,” said Zachary Bernstein, a sophomore visual and media arts major.
In the case of Evil Mustache Productions LLC, a production company created by Bernstein and junior visual and media arts major James Bass, upper lip plumage is the inspiration for their business.
Bernstein and Bass met in fall 2011, when Bernstein pitched a show for The Emerson Channel. Bass auditioned for the program as an actor, and later became the assistant producer for Internment.
The two found that they worked well together, and the experience made them consider working with each other on a larger scale.
“My weaknesses are complemented by his strengths,” said Bernstein. “We are very focused and we work so well together because we compliment each other’s work ethic.”
Bernstein presented Bass the script for Approaching Normal, a feature-length film.
Normal tells the story of Andy, a middle-aged man, who shows up at his father’s 80th birthday party after not speaking with his family for 20 years. The movie follows Andy’s reintroduction to his family.
Bass said he funded the project with inheritance money he received after the death of his grandfather.
Over the course of March and early April 2012, Bernstein and Bass took the legal steps needed to become Evil Mustache Productions LLC and started casting for Approaching Normal.
Although excited about the project, friends and family urged the two to save time and money and start with something small and to create a company later in their careers.
But Bernstein and Bass stayed calm and carried on. They chose to take the gamble and dive into their business.
“We figured this would be a great way to figure out how to manage a business and work with a small budget,” Bass said.
Bass and Bernstein said that at first they thought actors, crew, and clients might not take them seriously because of their ages.
“I think at first glance they look at us and see just kids,” said Bernstein. “I think if we get to the part where we can show them what can be done and what we’re doing, they’ll take us more seriously.”
According to the two, the cast made up of Screen Actors Guild and non-guild actors praised them for running the most professionally organized set that they had ever worked on.
Filming took place in upstate New York on a low budget and during monsoon-like weather. Working 18-hour days with a cast and crew of about 52 people, Bernstein took the directors chair, while Bass took an administrative role on set. The system worked, allowing for filming to be completed in 17 days.
The professionalism and work ethic they have has led them to come across more projects, they said.
Bernstein and Bass are currently working on a marketing project for Padmatcher.com, a roommate and apartment matching website.
Bernstein pitched an idea to the company for a new advertising campaign with viral videos and a print media. Bernstein said Padmatcher liked the idea so much that they gave them the project and budget.
Evil Mustache wants to gravitate more towards films or television shows, the twosome said. But in their early stages they will take whatever crosses their path.
“Working on these marketing campaigns is a great way to understand how to do business in the real world and also helps to provide capital. We are a two-man crew. Just like any college kid, money is short all the time,” said Bass.
According to the two, the Padmatcher campaign is set to be released within a few months.
The future for Approaching Normal and Evil Mustache as a whole is still a question.
“This is our first project, and we’d be thrilled and humbled enough if we could just get it to a few film festivals and get our name, Evil Mustache, really out there. We’re taking it day by day,” said Bass.
Their next official project is with an actress of Normal who is in the process of developing a pilot for Discovery Channel about a No Reservations-esque show but instead of food, it’s with wine.
“We’re always looking for more people to collaborate with at Emerson — whether scripts or partnerships or you need something made, come to us and we’ll sit down and see what we can do,” said Bernstein.