The most valuable lessons Chuck Bush learned came after he was cast in the movie Fandango in 1983 and from his brief brush with stardom.
Yes, he did get to act alongside Hollywood newcomer Kevin Costner, who went on to become a major movie star. And Bush, a Louisiana native, did get to dine on steak and lobster on the set a couple of times.
His 'Cinderella' story - he had been 'discovered' in a convenience store - was picked up by national publications like Esquire and People.
Bush even got so many autograph requests that it was hard to enjoy eating out in L.A.
But the most valuable lessons Bush took with him from that heady experience weren't about being a celebrity.
"I decided I liked it much better behind the camera," said Bush, named Charles after his dad but known as 'Chuck'.
The 38-year-old, who describes himself as a "gadget man", said, "There's no better place for a toy or gear fanatic to be than on a film set."
After deciding the actor's life wasn't for him, Bush returned to Louisiana to use his new knowledge of the movie business to edit sound for movies, as well as producing movies.
Today, he and his wife Angie own two companies in Baton Rouge, both involved in movie-making. They are Burning Bush Studios and Burning Bush Communications.
Getting on track
In a studio at the Burning Bush offices at 11505 Perkins Road, Robert Vaughn, director of audio services for Burning Bush Studios, demonstrates the kind of work the company does.
On a large TV screen, a video begins to run. The homemade video, made by missionaries with whom Chuck Bush is working, shows a group of horsemen galloping into a village on a street thronged with people.
The video is silent, though. There's no audio, because Vaughn is going to redo the sound to make it a finished product.
Working at the computer equipment before him, Vaughn first adds a track of African background music with a lilting sound of bells and drums; the video was shot in western Africa.
Using his computer mouse, he 'drags' in a sound track of horse hoofs pounding the ground.
The film is coming to life.
"He'll put in some crowd sounds," Bush said.
"What we are doing here is to manipulate sound and perfect it into a nice, homogeneous whole," Bush said.
Using digital computer equipment, the company can lay tracks of sound 64 layers deep in post-production work on film or video.
It puts in the sounds that audiences take for granted but would miss if they weren't there, such as trees rustling, cars passing and elevator doors opening and closing. The studio can make people's voices louder or softer, can change their pitch, and can speed up or slow down the speaker's tempo.
"Anything you can imagine, we can do" with audio, Bush said.
The company also does music scoring, editing and mixing.
One of Burning Bush Studio's major clients is Visual International, a company in Capetown, South Africa. It produces beautifully shot Biblical epics, called the Visual Bible series.
They're produced currently for home video, but will possibly go to the big screen in the future, in different, shorter formats.
Burning Bush Studios did all the sound work on the DVD (digital versatile disc) version of the four-volume set of the book of Matthew, the debut movie in 1996 of Visual International, starring Bruce Marchiano as Jesus.
Burning Bush Studios has done the sound on a number of other Visual International products, such as a topical Bible video series and an audio book by actor Marchiano.
The company has also done the sound work on a shorter, two-hour version of Matthew, called "Jesus, the Christ".
Distribution rights for the film are currently being discussed, said Angie Bush.
Burning Bush Studios also did the sound work for a family feature-length film called "Jeremy's Egg", produced by Southern Eagle Pictures.
Locally, the company has begun doing audio work for such clients as McDonald's and the Louisiana Lottery.
The big picture
The Bush's other company, Burning Bush Communications, got its start when Chuck Bush was working in production at a local television station and helping produce independent, locally filmed movies as a sideline, in Louisiana.
Bush was assistant producer in 1995 for a film called "Breezy Hill", and producer for another one in 1996, called "Favorite Son".
It was after Favorite Son that Bush left the television station to become an independent producer, and incorporated Burning Bush Communications.
Not long after that, Bush was contacted by local producer Frank Schroeder in 1997 to do post-production work for the Visual Bible series, giving impetus to Bush's studio business.
Burning Bush Communications is looking at originating its own film properties in the future.
Right now, it's finishing the financing package on three feature films, Bush said.
Financing will come from Burning Bush itself, from an individual investor, and from partners in the home video, TV and theater industries, who will have the rights to distribute the films in their particular areas, Bush said.
Each of the movies - a sports action film, a drama and a comedy - will be in the $3 million to $5 million budget range, Bush said.
And they'll each be family films. "We really want to target the family, and most importantly, teens," Bush said.
Bush said there can be "powerful, exciting" movies "without all the sex and violence" that seem to feed the teen film market today.
Bush said he comes from a "very Godly background." The name of his company, Burning Bush Communications, with its reference to the Biblical story of Moses' encounter with God, as well as to Bush's own last name, is especially significant to the him.
"Especially the 'communications' part," Bush said. "That was communication between God and Moses."
Ironically, in his own acting experience, Bush played a college graduate, who decides, by the end of the movie, to become a minister.
In the movies
Bush's launch in the movie business came about in the summer of 1983, when he stopped into a convenience store in Austin, Texas, late one night after work, and his whole life changed.
Inside the store was director Kevin Reynolds, in town to shoot the movie "Fandango."
While Bush ws trying to buy Cheetos and a diet Pepsi - he was in a hurry because his puppy was in his truck outside - Reynolds asked him if he'd like to be in a movie.
At 6-foot, 8-inches and close to 400 pounds, Bush, 21 then, had been working as a bodyguard for concert bands that summer.
He was planning to take a few more college science courses in the fall, so he could graduate and apply for medical school.
He never took those courses. Instead, he made a movie.
It was a critical decision for Bush, who had had a time trying to decide on his career path.
Bush, with his love of gadgets, had operated a recording studio since he was 18, recording local bands and creating his own music.
A native of New Orleans, who grew up in Houma, Bush studied engineering for awhile at LSU, before transferring to Texas State Technical in construction engineering.
He realized, though, that he didn't really like engineering, and decided to go into medicine, inspired by his father, now retired, who was a children's dentist.
After jumping at the opportunity to make a movie, Bush ended up traveling all over Texas for 10 weeks filming "Fandango." The movie is a tale about one weekend in the lives of five college roommates on the verge of growing up.
The Warner Brothers movie was released in 1985.
In the film, Bush played one of the roommates, a big, quiet guy named "Dorman", who ends up deciding to go into the ministry.
Kevin Costner played the ringleader of the group.
Another of Bush's fellow actors was Judd Nelson, who went on to fame in the films The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire.
Nelson also starred for three years on the Suddenly Susan television series with Brooke Shields.
Bush thought about pursuing a film career. After a particularly bruising incident with an unfriendly talent agent, following Fandango, Bush decided he'd had enough of the acting life.
He worked for awhile in Los Angeles, Austin and Denver as an independent producer for television, then returned to Louisiana in 1990.
Bush said that producing movies in Louisiana is a little different than it is on the West Coast.
He's found that local bankers don't really understand the equipment and, so, can't put a value on it in order to make loans.
His two companies, incidentally, are debt-free, he said. He and his wife own the communications company outright, and he has two financial partners in the studio, he said.
In L.A., "You can throw a rock and hit four people who will give you a loan" for a production company, Bush said. "On the other hand," his wife said, "the advantage to being here is that we're a novelty to people in L.A. You don't have to be in L.A. to do what we do."
The couple first met in Bush's local TV production days, when she was the spokesmodel for a local company's TV commercials.
Bush said he's never missed the actor's life.
A bit of the celebrity life remains, though. "I haven't been in a movie for better than 15 years, but at least two or three times a year, I'll still get asked for an autograph," said Bush, who's about 100 pounds lighter than he was in his acting days.
"They'll ask, 'Were you Dorman in Fandango?'"