Film & TV
WRITING LIVE ON-CAMERA & DOCUMENT PROP CREATION
“Whether creating written documents or writing live for the camera, I love working as part of the huge collaborative effort that goes into a film or TV production. It is always amazing to see how my work transforms through the eyes of prop masters, production designers, camera people and directors, making it their vision—so that it works perfectly for the film.
“I greatly enjoy the aspect of authenticity and researching different eras, studying written documents and techniques.” –Bernard Maisner
Mr. Maisner is a master of the handwritten word and is well known for his ability to write and letter in any historical style—from Medieval manuscripts to modern-day graffiti. He also creates authentic period props and is experienced writing live on-camera. He is cool, calm and collected in front of the camera, making shoots efficient and quickly completed. He is adept at extreme close up (ECU) filming as well.
It all began with an Actifed TV commercial, many years ago…
Bernard was contacted by an ad agency so they “could look at his hand.” Not knowing what they were talking about, he showed up. The agency had called in fifty professional hand models, and although all of their hands were good looking, none of them could write the words “Full prescription strength” in a style that the directors liked for the action spot. After looking at and taking a few Polaroid photos, the agency told Bernard that he had beautiful hands, and could they see his handwriting.
Bernard explained that he could do any style of writing, and quickly wrote out a few samples for them to look at. Thrilled, they selected the style of writing they liked, and he began working in show biz.
Mr. Maisner has since worked directly with industry luminaries such as Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton, Gus Van Sant, and Guy Ritchie, discussing and creating styles of writing that are character appropriate and in sync with the directors’ visions. Bernard is a member of SAG-AFTRA.
His feature films include The Age of Innocence, stepping in as Daniel Day Lewis’s hand; Sleepy Hollow, as Johnny Depp’s character; and Finding Forrester, as Sean Connery’s character. Mr. Maisner worked on set creating period letters and envelopes as props for Sherlock Holmes, and he created letters and envelopes as props for P.S. I Love You, as Gerard Butler’s character.
Mr. Maisner did on-camera writing and created prop documents for Boardwalk Empire and also wrote on-camera as Leonardo Da Vinci for a Dateline NBC special. In the documentary Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton, directed by Richard Brookhiser, he demonstrated historical handwriting with a quill while on a moving boat, as Hamilton would have done when writing the Federalist Papers. Mr. Maisner was also interviewed as a handwriting expert for that documentary.
Bernard wrote live on-camera as Lee Harvey Oswald and made props for Wilfried Huismann’s documentary Rendezvous with Death. He studied and memorized Oswald’s handwriting from documents obtained from the National Archives.
He was also featured in another documentary film: The Art of Craftsmanship Revisited, produced by LVMH.
TV credits include an appearance on the Martha Stewart Living show in 2001, where he discussed and demonstrated calligraphy. He has appeared in numerous TV commercials, on-camera as a doctor, a businessman, a lawyer, a medieval monk, and even as Ronald McDonald—dressed in Ronald’s full costume and wig.
Mr. Maisner is willing to travel and perform on location. He works from his Bay Head, NJ Shore and Manhattan studios, where he also creates fine engraved stationery for film prop use.