When Mark Goldman’s daughter got a part in the Long Beach Theatre Guild’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” she encouraged her father to try theater, too. What followed was a 15-year-long career for Goldman spanning sketch comedy shows, independent films, prime-time television and regional theater productions. And he’s just getting started.
In July, Goldman, 57, of Merrick, earned his first screenwriting award for his original screenplay, “Sensei and the Gold Man,” at the 15th annual Action On Film International Film Festival. The year before, Goldman and his creative team — an assemblage of local comedians, filmmakers and martial artists — earned awards for Best Comedy Short and Best Comedy Scene at the same festival for his short, “Father and Father.” He has a retractable banner of the movie’s poster displayed in his home on Byron Road.
“It’s not everyone’s humor, but I think it’s funny,” Goldman said with a shrug and a smile. As he recalled his varied career in the industry, he spoke softly, but the conversation was peppered with one-liners he seemed to pull out of thin air.
Building a brand
Goldman developed his comedy chops with Middle Class American Productions under John Blenn, a director, producer and playwright. He performed “Saturday Night Live”-style sketches at Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown and the Brokerage in Bellmore. He also worked with Blenn on “Two Tickets to Paradise: The Musical,” which depicts the life and career of rock star Eddie Money.
Goldman then moved his focus from the stage to the dojo, and began dabbling in martial arts, which is how he met fellow Merokean Alan Goldberg, the founder and host of the Action Martial Arts Magazine Mega Weekend.
Goldberg connected Goldman with acclaimed action film director Art Camacho, who cast Goldman in his film “The Chemist.” Camacho co-produced the film with Tom Renner, of West Islip. “We met on set and became close right off the bat,” Renner said of Goldman. “He’s become like a brother to me.”
Their friendship turned into a creative partnership when they developed the concept for “Father and Father,” an action-adventure/comedy about two priests who go on the run after they receive confession from a wounded mob boss. The short was produced by Metro Goldman Motion Pictures — which Goldman formed a week before filming — and features an epic fight scene that was filmed in Saint Raymond’s Church in East Rockaway.
“Starting your own movie company and making your own movie is a pretty Herculean task,” Goldman said, “and then for it to be actually successful is just crazy.”
Renner starred alongside Goldman in the film. “We play off of each other very well. I’m more of the straight, deadpan guy, and he’s more comical,” he said. Goldman said the goal is to propel his and Renner’s on-screen characters into the realm of great comedy duos, adding that “Sensei and the Gold Man” is considered the prequel to “Father and Father.”
Goldman also noted that many actors featured in “Father and Father’s” ensemble cast were born and bred in New York or on Long Island. Some of the players from the first film will also be featured in “Sensei and the Gold Man,” which will be shot locally as a 12-episode series, prospectively for Netflix, Goldman said.
This creative crossover is special to Goldman, as he is able to work with his closest friends, creating a “synergy” on set. “We’re all connected somewhere or somehow,” said Goldberg. Filming, he said, was a “riot.”
Redefining a genre
Goldman has worked with many industry professionals during his career. His mentors — Blenn, Camacho, “Father and Father” director Michael Baumgarten and his brother, Robert — all encouraged him to “push the envelope” of entertainment, he said.
This thinking produced a new way for Goldman to envision the action-adventure/comedy, one that draws from theater influences as well as the martial arts. “With martial arts, you’re always looking to . . . educate yourself, and it’s the same in acting,” he said. “You’re always looking to move to the next level.”
The genre is inherent to “Father and Father.” Goldman hopes to repeat that “movie magic” with “Sensei and the Gold Man,” and his next project, “Civil Savages,” which he described as a combination of “Parks and Recreation” and “The Walking Dead.”
Goldman likes to watch the audience’s reactions to his films. “The coolest thing is sitting in the back of the theater and watching the audience laugh,” he said. “It makes me well with pride.”