By Burt Constable
Addison dentist and actor Patrick Brambert, a husband and father of two, was completing his Army National Guard basic training in Oklahoma last year when he wrote the screenplay for his comedic short film screening next week at a prestigious film festival at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
That’s a lot crammed into an opening sentence, so let’s take a break. And … scene. No, wait. He’s a dentist, so maybe that should be “rinse and spit.” Or maybe the soldier in him would prefer “at ease.”
“I’m just kind of all over the place,” admits Brambert, 30, who got his doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Iowa but also did acting training at Chicago’s Second City and MA School of Acting, as well as London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He’s serving this coming weekend in Peoria with the 108th Sustainment Brigade and 709th Area Support Medical Company in the Army National Guard before heading to Los Angeles for the Dances with Films festival, where his film is on the big screen next Thursday.
His screenplay won him a scholarship from Veterans in Media and Entertainment to study with Brent Forrester, an Emmy-winning producer, writer and director who worked on “The Office,” “The Simpsons” and other hit shows. And Brambert says he’s learned a lot from his training with current acting teacher Maximino Arciniega, who plays Domingo Gallardo “Krazy-8” Molina in “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad.” Brambert had a speaking role as a jail guard in the TV show “Chicago P.D.” last season.
Acting and film weren’t on the horizon when Brambert was growing up in Bloomingdale. He graduated from Lake Park High School in 2009, knowing he’d fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a dentist.
“I went to a pediatric dentist and absolutely loved it,” Brambert says. “I kept going there until I was 21. I’m 6-foot-4 and didn’t fit in the chair anymore.”
He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a biology degree from Elmhurst University, where he published his research on protein expression with breast cancer cells. And he completed an externship at a special-needs dental clinic in Iowa and an externship on a Native American reservation in Cass Lake, Minnesota, as part of dental school.
“When I was at Iowa in dental school, I would do standup and improv,” Brambert says.
He joined the Army National Guard in 2020 because he “wanted to do something militarywise,” and the Guard allowed him to still work at Dental Essence, an Addison dental clinic started by dentist Paul N. Greico.
Greico is very understanding with Brambert’s busy schedule, and so is Brambert’s wife of four years. “She’s the reason I am able to do what I do,” Brambert says of Jeanne, who is a registered nurse working in dermatology for Northwestern Medicine. The couple lives in Winfield and have a 21-month-old son, Jack, a 2-month-old daughter, Lucy, and a rescue dog, Nova.
As busy as he is, Brambert wrote his screenplay last year when he was completing his Army basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The Army Combat Fitness test inspired him.
“I don’t know if it was me just trying to take my mind off failing on my 30th pushup or whatever, but I wrote,” he says, recalling a particularly productive moment when he woke before dawn to run 2 miles in freezing temperatures. “Somehow, that’s where I came up with an entire scene in my head.”
The writer and director of his 10-minute film, “Kitchen Spaces,” Brambert also stars as half a husband-and-wife cooking team struggling to show a TV host how to cook the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. Allison Grischow and Mark Pontarelli, actors he met at an improv event, star as his wife and the TV host.
Brambert describes it as a blend between “The Office” and “Between Two Ferns,” with plenty of uncomfortable moments and inappropriate outbursts as things fly off the rails. He’s hoping he can turn “Kitchen Spaces” into a television series with half-hour episodes focused on the cooking couple, their new restaurant and their attempts to revive their cooking careers. He works on that in his free time.
“Oh,” Brambert says, “I have everything mapped out.”