St. Augustine Screenwriter
I like to humor myself and think of myself as a man in motion – editor, and cinematographer. At an age when some men are wrestling with retirement, I’m filming my own HD video projects and distributing them on the Internet. After over 30 years making pictures for other directors I am concentrating on my own stories here in our nation's oldest city, St. Augustine. There is a story around every corner to film. After over 30 years filming I have learned enough to write screenplays.
I’ve always been an overachiever by nature, my talents and skills began overlapping in 1964 at the age of 13. Paul Marino, a chorus teacher in my 8th grade year helped me find my voice. I started singing in a Miami garage band called The Victims at parties around Perrine and Cutler Ridge, Florida. At Palmetto High School, I was the lead singer with the 60's rock band Slaves of Sound. After the Slaves of Sound I was a contract singer with John Kennly’s Broadway Musicals at the Plaza Hotel on Miami Beach. At age 20, I was awarded a partial drama scholarship to Flagler College in St. Augustine. I attended Flagler only a few months before enlisting in the U.S. Navy.
I was born into a military family. My father was a Strategic Air Command pilot. From 1973-1977, I served aboard the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) where my duties included assembling air-to-air rockets and maintaining air-to-air weapons at sea. I was honored to be stationed on the famous aircraft carrier Kennedy and loved being at sea; the military was not a good career fit for me.
When my four-year Navy hitch ended, I returned to Flagler College in St. Augustine. I also attended Florida School of the Arts in Palatka where I received a degree in technical theater. During this period I performed and worked as a technician in more than a dozen area plays among them “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “South Pacific,” “Cabaret,” “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Cross and Sword” – the latter, depicting early St. Augustine history, was designated “Florida’s Official State Play”. “I enjoyed acted the role of Jean Ribault, a French naval officer, navigator, and a colonizer of early Florida. The Ribault roll taught me a great deal about religious freedom”. The next Summer I portrayed Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of Menendez’ fleet; celebrant of the first Mass in St. Augustine; and first missionary at Nombre de Dios. After the summer of 1977 I left for Los Angeles.
In California, using my G.I. Bill benefits, I attended Columbia College Hollywood where I received a BA degree in Cinematography. In Hollywood I made the rounds of independent movies and student films. After learning film-making in Hollywood I returned to Florida in 1980 and married the former Anne Buynitzky, my wife and partner since 1980.
In 1980 I started Merwin Films and produced three cable TV shows a day seven days a week. I would produce TV commercials and insert the commercials into the three shows I was producing. My first year a friend from LA, Shane Smith worked with me enjoying applying the knowledge we had received in LA. Anne and I moved to Orlando where I worked as a cameraman with The Cinematographers Guild, as an electrician with Local 631 and a video assist operator with the Editors Guild on hundreds of TV shows, commercials and industrial shows. Notable among these shows were the very early shows produced at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Industrial trade show for corporations was a part of my business working production for: McDonald’s, IBM, General Electric, Chrysler, Cadillac, Ford, Candy-Maker Mars' and Pfizer. On my off hours in Kissimmee, Florida where we owned a home I was producing shows with a production company I started with a local Kissimmee business man called KISS TV (for Kissimmee TV).
After five years of Disney, Universal, KISS TV and corporate shows, I started getting calls on network television shows and movies. I was an assistant editor on MGM’s “In the Heat of the Night” (7th season). It was an honor to work with Carroll O'Connor.
British Cinematographer Tony Imi gave me a break as an assistant cameraman on a NBC TV remake of “The Old Man and the Sea” (Fuisz/Yorkshire – 1990). It was while working with Anthony Quinn on “The Old Man and the Sea” that I realized the level of commitment required to maintain a career with the screen arts. The first day I was on the set I saw Mr. Quinn refining his craft, rowing. He was on his little fishing boat practicing for an upcoming scene. I remember thinking “if this man, at his career level, is working this hard to make the scene a great scene I had better re-think my level of commitment to my craft. From that day on a beach in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands forward I have always given 100% of myself to my work on the set.
Mr. Imi also gave me a break on a feature film “Fire Birds” (Touchstone/BuenaVista – 1990).
I 1991 produced and filmed my first Panavision movie New Walden, and continued to work my craft.
As the millennium unfolded, my wife, our son Louie and me returned to California where I re-tooled my film making skills at the Editors Guild, the Cinematographers Guild, and attended UCLA.
I learned the logistics of independent film marketing and distribution while working the market at the American Film Market Association (AFMA) in Santa Monica. The AFMA assigned me to be the video guy at the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot where I screened four and five rooms of indi-videos all day long for 10 days during the run of the AFM two years in a row.
I produced, directed and photographed “Double Exposure: The Voice of the Camera,” a documentary featuring seven legendary cinematographers (), worked with the City of Beverly Hills as a cameraman on several video programs for their cable TV network and produced and filmed Changing Faces about legendary pioneers and contemporary make-up artists in Hollywood (). We moved back to Florida in 2004.
We lived in Fort Myers for a time and I worked some industrial shows and did stage work with Local 647.
I filmed a movie directed by Rhonda Toppel of Topline Cinema called Chill Out a fun, dark comedy about a woman who overcomes her citizenship woes. Her American husband dies an untimely death and she must convert her citizenship from Canada to America “over his dead body”. We filmed in some wonderful Florida locations and I enjoyed working with a great crew, many I had worked with on other Florida films and shows.
We moved from Fort Myers to Coral Gables, Florida after Chill Out and I started filming industrial projects at the Miami Beach Convention Center with Locals 500 and Local 600, the International Cinematographers Guild who had IA contracts at the Miami Beach Convention Center where Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali fought.
In 2010 we moved to St. Augustine, Florida were I wrote and directed my own productions with the help of my wife Anne.
ROOSEVELT AND RUFUS (Bruce Merwin, 2012) - Set in St. Augustine, our nation's oldest city, Roosevelt and Rufus is a real-life tale of man and beast working together in harmony. Meet Roosevelt, an entrepreneur at age 8 and carriage driver for over thirty years, and Rufus, a magnificent standard bred and Belgian horse, his partner. Join them on a trip around town and back through history to a simpler time, available at .
I have a film screening at a St. Augustine museum. I film for the St. Augustine Historical Society and many St. Augustine businesses. I film for financial companies, industrial companies and I film individuals in my personal documentaries. I have filmed projects in French, Chinese, Spanish and English.
I film sustainable educational programs with a local St. Augustine producer. We have filmed over sixty five programs to date (2018).
I am writing screenplays and have shifted much of my time to the work of selling and writing screenplays.
Unique traits: Writing a well told cinematic screen story.
Roosevelt & Rufus
Film (Documentary) Cinematographer Man and beast work together in harmony.
Marley & Me
Film (Comedy, Drama and Family) Miscellaneous Crew After their wedding, newspaper writers John and Jennifer Grogan move to Florida. In an attempt to stall Jennifer's "biological clock", John gives her a puppy. While the puppy Marley grows into a 100 pound dog, he loses none of his puppy energy or rambunctiousness. Meanwhile, Marley gains no self-discipline. Marley's antics give John rich material for his newspaper column. As the Grogans mature and have children of their own, Marley continues to test everyone's patience by acting like the world's most impulsive dog. Written by Ken Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Film (Documentary) Cinematographer Watch as Rick Stratton and ALL FX create the makeup effects for the tele-film Alien Nation: The Udara Legacy, from making molds, to casting foam rubber appliances, to painting them, to applying them on the actors. Also includes a behind-the-scenes at All FX, Don Post Studios, and the Jack Pierce Lifetime Achievement Makeup Award on February 16, 2003. Written by Scott Essman
Film (Short and Action) Camera and Electrical Department Add a Plot »
Voice of the Camera
Film (Biography) Cinematographer Great Hollywood cameramen and film pioneers speak of: the Steadicam, responsibilities of a director of photography, camera framing, a brief history of Panavision, camera movement, drawing the audience into the frame and crossing the line.
Film (Fantasy) Producer Enjoy transcendentalism. New Walden is a transcendental motion picture. An exploitation of transcendental cinema by poet, singer MERWIN. "We present the only 35mm film ever to embrace the touchy elusive American transcendentalist movement. We remain true to Americana in story, presentation, filmic nuance and splendor. People love: Thoreau's text given by the great voice of actor J. Walker Fischer, Ben Moffit's original music and the dance choreography by Ballerina Patricia Strauss. You will not find better transcendental cinema!" said MERWIN Written by Bruce Merwin
Film (Action and Adventure) Camera and Electrical Department The U.S. Government is willing to help any country that requires help in ridding themselves of drugs with support from the Army. Unfortunately, the drug cartels have countered that offer by hiring one of the best air-combat mercenaries and have armed him with a Scorpion attack helicopter. The army decides to send in its best people from its Apache Air Combat school. But first they have to be taught how to fly air-to-air combat missions Written by Michael O'Keefe <email@example.com>
The Old Man and the Sea
Film (Drama) Camera and Electrical Department Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Santiago goes out on his usual fishing trip and makes a huge catch, the biggest of his life. Then a shark attacks and tries to steal his catch. Santiago battles with the shark for days. He returns to the shore beaten, tattered and torn, and his catch consisting now of mostly bones. Written by Jason Ihle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Television (Adventure, Fantasy and Sci-Fi) Camera and Electrical Department The adventures of Superman when he was a boy! Actually, as a young man...who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered journalism student at Shuster University, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and...well, you know the rest... Written by Gregory A. Sheets <email@example.com>
In the Heat of the Night
Television (Crime, Drama, Mystery and Thriller) Editorial department Bill Gillespie is a police chief in a small town in the American South, and later becomes sheriff of the county. As Bill tries to solve crimes and catch criminals, aided by his capable investigator Virgil Tibbs and police lieutenant Bubba Skinner, he must navigate tricky small-town politics. Racial tensions often run high in the South and this theme is frequently explored. Bill's personal life is often portrayed in this TV drama, as well. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Screenwriting Award: Winner Houston International Film Festival for Adaptation of “Dionysus.”