Ronald A. Blum may be making inroads as a screenwriter but his day job is far from Hollywood. Since graduating from UC Berkeley, Blum has worked in biophysics and heads up marketing and business development for healthcare companies around America.

About 20 years ago, Blum put pen to paper on an action-adventure script called ‘’The City of Gold’’ – which would go on to star his good friend, Vernon Wells (“Commando,” “InnerSpace”) – which is finally in the can and ready for release this December! The movie, which Blum produced through his Castle Shore Films label, sees a group of explorers in search of the legendary loot that lies within El Dorado.

Ronald discussed this and more via an exclusive interview November 19, 2018.

Scripts, the film industry, and goals

Meagan Meehan (MM): What inspired you to become a writer, Ronald?

Ronald A. Blum (RAB): I’ve always loved films and television, and did a little acting in school plays and student films in college, but never thought I would ever write anything like a screenplay. I actually wrote my first script just for fun with another friend of mine when I was a graduate student at Berkeley. We did it because we both loved to write and I had another friend whose girlfriend worked as a PA for a well-known producer—naively I thought if the script was good enough, maybe she would pass it along and it could get produced.

Neither of us had any training or experience in screenwriting, but we read a couple of “how to” books and banged it out. That first script turned out to actually be ok—not great, but good enough to get us an agent. The agent never did anything for us, but it got me excited about the possibility of writing screenplays, and that really encouraged me to stick with it.

MM: Can you talk about some of those early scripts?

RAB: The first scripts covered a wide range of genres from action-adventure, to comedy, to thrillers. It was pure enjoyment—we had so much fun writing—no pressure, no constraints—just coming up with ideas and seeing what we could create.

MM: You don’t actually work in the film industry, right?

RAB: That’s right. Even though I’ve been screenwriting for over twenty years, my primary career has been in the medical industry. I have a Ph.D. in Biophysics from UC Berkeley and have worked in the laboratory/diagnostics/clinical trials field, heading up marketing and business development for some of the most innovative healthcare companies in the country. Those experiences in the industry really helped me when I went to make “City of Gold.” The creative side is the passion, but the business side of filmmaking requires a huge amount of discipline, attention to detail, problem solving and responsibility.

MM: Is the goal to make the transition full-time into the industry one day though or will you continue trying to juggle two hats?

RAB: I’ve always juggled the two professions, and in many ways, it makes it easier because the one balances the other. I’ve met so many incredible people in each industry. It’s interesting how both fields have changed so dramatically over the past twenty years—you never know where the opportunities will arise, and I think you have to be willing to accept change and go where the opportunities take you.

MM: When did you form your production company and is “The City of Gold” the first time under the banner?

RAB: About four years ago, the various elements I needed to make “City of Gold” came together, so that's when I decided to form Castle Shore Films, LLC to produce the movie. Yes, “City of Gold” is the first of what I hope is the beginning of many productions for Castle Shore Films.

MM: Can you talk about how Vernon Wells and Chris Atkins got involved?

RAB: Vernon has been a close friend of mine for over 20 years. I always wanted to work on a film with Vernon—he is one of the most iconic villains in cinema, and has played some of my personal favorite characters in the movie including “Bennett” from “Commando.” So, when I decided to produce “City of Gold,” he was the absolute perfect choice to play the role of Francisco Asturias, a sadistic Spanish inquisitor from the 1500’s, who would stop at nothing to find the lost “city of gold” hidden by the Incan natives. The irony is that Vernon is the nicest guy in real life, but when the camera is rolling, he becomes an absolutely mesmerizing terror.

Vernon has worked with almost everyone in Hollywood, and when I needed to cast the role of Richard Davenport, a handsome but tormented media mogul, Vernon suggested I contact Christopher Atkins. Chris was fantastic! Such a great actor, and wonderful to work with. When you’re on set, you really get an appreciation of how exceptional these veteran actors are—every take is amazing, and they are so professional and fun to work with. They truly appreciate being a part of the film and bring to its energy and performance that is inspiring.

Celebrations, projects, and sage advice

MM: Has the release next month been a long time coming, so how will you celebrate?

RAB: It’s been a long 20-year journey. I wrote the original version of the script over two decades ago, with the idea that someday, if the circumstances were ever right, that it would be an awesome project to produce.

My wife always joked that all I talked about for 20 years was producing the movie—she’s probably right!

Producing the film has been a very exciting but much bigger endeavor than I ever imagined. It’s easy to get caught up in the creative elements because that's the incredibly fun and intoxicating part, but first and foremost, it is a business, with an unbelievable amount of paperwork, attention to detail and responsibility. But in the end, it is a fantastic feeling to actually have your film come to life and be available for people to see. We will definitely celebrate, probably with a vacation trip back to Hawaii.

MM: Career-wise, where do you see yourself in ten years, what projects are coming up next, and do you have any special sage advice for upcoming writers and producers?

RAB: One of the key reasons I produced this film was to give me the opportunity to hopefully write and produce a variety of other projects for film and television. I hope that ten years from now I am continuing to write and produce entertaining content that people enjoy.

I have several film and television projects in the works. I’ve already started writing the sequel to “City of Gold”—I’m really excited about how it’s developing. I also have a romantic comedy and a true-life African adventure film I’d love to make. Something really special I am pitching right now is a very provocative scripted medical drama TV series —its controversial, fast-moving and futuristic—I’ve co-created the series with some amazing writers and producers, including a colleague of mine from the world of genetics who has written and consulted for some of the top medical shows on TV.

Vernon Wells is also a co-creator on the project.

As a producer, the most important thing is to surround yourself with talented, committed and trustworthy people. The right people can make or break a film. The process of filmmaking is so complex at every stage, with a multitude of variables, that it becomes quickly apparent that you need to be able to rely on the people around you. I now understand why so many top directors and producers call upon the same principal cast and crew members for films—they know they can rely on them. Having the right people makes all the difference, and I can’t wait to do another project with the incredible people I worked with on “City of Gold.”