Jayson Bernard is the CEO and president of J&R Productions, a company he founded with his partner ( now husband ), Roberto. It is a production company that specializes in film, and also has done several pilots for market for television and a couple of indy filmsand soon will add theatrical release to that resume, as the company is set for its first such release in October 2016.
"We are currently in post-production for a trilogy marketed for TV called 'The Blackwood Prophecies,'" Bernard said. "It is being edited, then we still are scheduled to shoot two more episodes this summer. We [also] have an indy short, [called] Orphans of God, due in film festivals this fall. And as of now we are in production of our first theatrical release movie, Halloweed, which shoots this June [and is] directed by LazReal Lison. We partnered up with two other Chicago local companies, Two9 Productions and Cyber Tiger Studios, and things are moving quickly."
Halloweed will be in theaters in October 2016.
Bernard, 39, originally from Ohio, has lived on Chicago's North Side since 1998. He moved here to pursue a comedy career with acting and landed at Second City.
Jayson and Roberto have been together for 12 years, and married for the last four.
Roberto does not have much to do with the company's day to day matters, Bernard said, "but [he] oversees my spending," Bernard added with a smile.
After all, his company is an independent film group, meaning, "we do pretty much everything a name studio would do … just on a smaller budget," he said. "Production handles the hiring of all persons involved with making a film or show from actors to craft services. Sometimes we delegate, sometimes we do it all … well, most [of] the time we do it all."
"Family Values" was their flagship, "and we did everythingfrom cooking, finding locations, wardrobe, casting, writing, you name it we did it," Bernard said. "It taught us a lot to do it that way. [We were] very hands on … trial by fire."
"Family Values" will be available on Amazon this spring.
"Family Values always will be our baby," Bernard said. "We did it alone. We were proud of it. Of course it won't be as glossy, as we may have wanted it being our first production, but we learned a lot, and we had so much support from the Chicago acting community. The actors in Chicago are amazing. We since then have done 'The Blackwood Prophecies,' 'Orphans of God' and 'Halloweed.'
"We are also in the works for a reality show that follows some amazing men that were soldiers and have come back from war and who are doing great things for veterans and their families.
Bernard said he wants the company to be recognized as one that produces high quality entertainment that industry people and audiences alike can trust and depend on for great productions.
"I love, love, love my job … every aspect of it. We are having the time of our lives," Bernard said. "Do what you love. … It's not a cliché."
Bernard said one of his favorite work-related moments was when he and actress Michelle Mueller had to do a scene on a rooftop and she had to eat snack cakes, yet the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees. "The cakes were melting all over us; we were stuck to the roof and had to put that crap in our mouths; It was awful," Bernard recalled with a laugh.
Bernard said working with Roberto has been nothing short of great. "We really are inseparable," he said. "We get to spend time with each other we didn't have when we had nine-to-five jobs. We don't always want to be around each other 100 percent of the day … but for the most part, it's amazing." ( He laughed. )
Bernard said his company is proud to be 100 percent behind LGBT films and entertainment. "We are currently writing and featuring great LGBT story lines or characters to help the world see we can be recognized as action heroes, parents, or amazing characters along with the rest of the world's favorite entertainer," he said. "All our productions feature a strong gay character, or storyline. We are very proud of that."