Author Topic: doing it right for the wrong reasons?  (Read 15704 times)

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Sal

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« on: August 06, 2003, 04:52:02 AM »
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Interesting article I found linked.  Quite an ambitious guy.

Quote
Winning Oscar is on teen's 'to-do' list

By BRYNN GRIMLEY
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

He spent the last year and a half writing a screenplay for a feature-length film.

He secured a wing of Swedish Medical Center in Ballard so his movie could be shot in a realistic setting.

He's now managing a production budget of $75,000 and a staff of 15, most of whom range in age from their 20s to their late 50s.

One more thing: He's 17 years old.

"I am the one who has to make the decisions and I'm the youngest one on the set," said Jesse Harris, who will be a senior at Ballard High School this fall. "I'm in control of the adults, so it's interesting."

Harris said he based his film-to-be, "Living Life," on experiences he's observed around him. The movie follows a 17-year-old boy after he is diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer, chronicling the way his life and the lives of his family and friends are changed by his inevitable death.

"The message is to show you really just have to live your life -- to do everything you can with the time you have," Harris said.

Which is exactly how Harris has approached his goals.

At age 8, he created his own detective series called "Sam Spud" and filmed it with a neighbor's borrowed video camera.

 
 
By middle school, he had formed an acting class for elementary school pupils who performed plays in Ballard. He also became well-known as "Jesse the Magician," an act so popular he made $150 a show.

By the age of 15, Harris already had completed numerous documentaries, commercials, shorts and a one-hour drama, "Sara Jane," which won a Texas film festival award.

After that, he said it was only logical to take the next step to feature filmmaking.

" 'Sara Jane' was submitted to the festival but wasn't made for money. It was made for my own experience," Harris said. "I think (the award) is what partially inspired me to do a bigger production."

But before he could begin that production, Harris needed funding. He raised some money through family and friends, but the bulk of his budget came out of his college fund. He persuaded his parents to turn the money over to him now because of his drive to become a director and to make "Living Life" a success.

Bud Harrington, the 59-year-old co-producer of "Sara Jane" and "Living Life," said he knows one of Harris' goals has been to direct and produce a feature-length film by the time he turns 20.

Harrington said that although he is co-producer, "Living Life" is Harris' project.

"He's probably one of the most focused people I know," said Harrington, a part-time video producer for the past 15 years. "I would not be surprised at all -- actually, I almost expect it -- he's going to receive an Oscar one day."

To win an Oscar as a director is on Harris' to-do list.

"I want to be a successful director in Hollywood," he said. "Winning an Oscar would be nice, and if I'm starting this early in my life having a career in this business, it's pretty realistic."

Earlier this year, Harris founded his own production company, RainyDay Pictures. He and his production crew have been spending 10 to 12 hours a day over the last three weeks filming "Living Life."

His crew includes Randall Peck, 41, of Seattle, an experienced director of photography who has worked on three other feature films. Peck said he heard from a mutual friend about Harris' screenplay, contacted him and joined the project because he "liked Jesse and liked the script."

Peck said Harris is the most organized director he has worked with in the pre-production planning of the film.

"He can go as far as he wants to," Peck said. "He has a lot more to learn, but we all do. That's what's fun about this business."

Harris planned a $75,000 production budget, which Peck said is common for independent films. He has $50,000 to cover the filming and production of his two-hour movie, but he still needs $25,000 for post-production editing, which he hopes will be done by spring 2004 so he can submit the drama to the Sundance Film Festival and possibly another festival in Toronto.

"There's a lot (of money) to make back," Harris said. "We obviously can't just sell videotapes to friends to make back the money like we did with 'Sara Jane.' "

In part because his college fund was used on the movie, Harris said he doesn't plan to pursue a formal higher education.

"After you've done this, there's not much point to go into film school," he said. "What I need to know I am learning right now. ...

"I wanted to start now. I don't want to wait until after college to get started on my career."

His parents -- Kathy Reichgerdt, a self-employed business consultant, and Frank Harris, a carpenter for the city of Seattle's Parks and Recreation Department -- support their son's decision to forgo an education at a four-year college, but Reichgerdt said she hopes he will attend an intensive one-year film school he visited last year in Los Angeles.

"We decided what he's doing in this month is more valuable than the $50,000 needed to send him to a liberal arts school," she said. "But we also told him we're not a bottomless pit."

Reichgerdt said her son's determination and focus haven't strayed over the years.

"He's always had an interest in putting things together and getting a message across," she said. "He's a child of his generation. He's always liked movies and television."

She also noted that as a director, Harris is respected by adults.

Harrington agrees.

"I don't think they see him as a teenage kid," he said. "They see him as a director who knows what he wants."

With all the production talk, it's easy to forget that Harris has yet to make it through his senior year of high school.

Until he graduates and heads off to Los Angeles, he still has household chores to complete.

"He's still very much 17," said his mother. "We still have the typical parent-kid relationship, and he's always had very clear duties around the house, so we keep him balanced."

She'll be proud of her son no matter what he chooses to do with his career.

"Who knows if he'll be the next Steven Spielberg," she said. "But one thing will lead up to another, and if he doesn't go into film, his experiences will lead him to something else just as good."


JESSE HARRIS AT A GLANCE


Age: 17


Education: Will be a senior at Ballard High School next year


Career objective: To be a successful movie director and win an Oscar


Favorite movies ever made: "October Sky," "Finding Forrester"


Favorite director: Steven Spielberg

Ghostboy

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2003, 04:57:07 AM »
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Damn rich parents.

jokerspath

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2003, 08:48:13 AM »
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I think this calls for a RICH KID SHAKEDOWN!!

aw
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TheVoiceOfNick

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2003, 12:39:28 PM »
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The poor bastard doesn't know what he's getting into... ulcer by 22, heart attack by 25, cancer by 28... jeez kid, take your time...

Nick

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Re: doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2003, 03:51:04 PM »
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Quote
Career objective: To be a successful movie director and win an Oscar


Favorite movies ever made: "October Sky," "Finding Forrester"


Favorite director: Steven Spielberg

*shakes head*

Link

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2003, 04:19:21 PM »
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Onomatopoeia, I was thinking the same thing.

SoNowThen

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Re: doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2003, 09:11:45 AM »
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Quote from: Onomatopoeia
Quote
Career objective: To be a successful movie director and win an Oscar


Favorite movies ever made: "October Sky," "Finding Forrester"


Favorite director: Steven Spielberg

*shakes head*


Yeah, exactly. I guess that rules out his films being interesting. Oh well, good for the kid anyway, that he's got a production going.
Those who say that the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary:  the rejection of civil society. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication.

When those who hated capital and consumption (and Jews) in the 20th century murdered some hundred million people, and the poster children for the struggle against international capitalism and America are now fanatical Islamic terrorists, this puts recent enthusiasts in an awkward position. Most of them are too dense and shameless to appreciate it, and far too many are taken in by the moralistic and paternalistic rhetoric of the Left.

ᾦɐļᵲʊʂ

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2003, 10:41:30 AM »
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I was sitting there thinking "Wow, he must have a good taste in movies if...Favorite Director Spielberg...ah nevermind..."
"As a matter of fact I only work with the feeling of something magical, something seemingly significant. And to keep it magical I don't want to know the story involved, I just want the hypnotic effect of it somehow seeming significant without knowing why." - Len Lye

Pubrick

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2003, 11:28:47 AM »
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anger.

..last nite over drinks, a mate was tellin me that it ain't healthy to hate rich kids like i do.

really tho, is this reality? expect a burn out by 23. and lots more money, no doubt.
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©brad

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2003, 02:32:58 PM »
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look im a spoiled little bitch no doubt, but my folks would never give me $50 grand for a movie. geez, lucky little bastard.

but really, even if i had the money at that age i dont think i would do it. i wouldnt be ready. ive read stuff ive written at 16 and its laughably lame. besides, i think in order to make a good film u have to go out there and experience life, travel, read stuff... i cant imagine this kid has done much of any of that, but i may be wrong.

favorite movie finding forrester? pfft... his movie's gonna flop.

SoNowThen

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2003, 02:46:35 PM »
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It's too good a story to flop. Even if it's a shitcan movie, some newspaper could make it into a great article, and all of a sudden people will give the kid money to make another. And since he sings the praises of the 'Berg, maybe he will be looked on even more friendly. See, it's a perfect story to help make the kid in Hollywood. Kinda like how Ben and Matt beat out PTA for best script in 1997. It was such a great "story" of these two actor buddies who wrote this "wonderful" script. Fuck. It makes me kinda sad.

As I said before though, anybody making ANYTHING when he's 17... that's pretty amazing.
Those who say that the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary:  the rejection of civil society. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication.

When those who hated capital and consumption (and Jews) in the 20th century murdered some hundred million people, and the poster children for the struggle against international capitalism and America are now fanatical Islamic terrorists, this puts recent enthusiasts in an awkward position. Most of them are too dense and shameless to appreciate it, and far too many are taken in by the moralistic and paternalistic rhetoric of the Left.

mutinyco

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2003, 06:06:16 PM »
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That was my plan. I was supposed to make my first feature right out of high school -- 16mm B&W. I was going to use my college money. I'd written 3 feature-length scripts at that point. Money didn't happen. And since back then there was no decent consumer DV technology, you had to shoot 16mm. The last short I did on mini-DV cost $50 -- if it was 16mm it would've been an easy $10,000. People don't realize how lucky they are right now.

At 17 though, you'd expect the kid to have a harder edge. Finding Forrester and October Skies? Please.

I don't take this any more seriously than that little girl who was hailed as a genius painter for doing stuff that resembled Picasso. It's all hype.
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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2003, 06:16:52 PM »
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Last year, when I was sixteen, I had a feature I wrote produced by a director in Canada, who was also sixteen. It was a fairly dark piece [it was weird, actually, let's be honest]. We are going to be submitting it to Sundance 2004, most probably.

We made it on nothing though, like, on the good will of others. We got given the cameras [I think he shot on D9], the sets, the studio space. Everything. The performances.

Since then though, we've both sort of come to the realisation that it isn't the best thing either of us have ever done. The performances are very monotonous, and the script was pretty choppy and all over the shot. We've written better things since. How could it be bona fide brilliance? We were too young when we wrote it. We began developing the story when we were fifteen!

Anyway, what I wanted to throw out there was, if you did have one of these "wunderkind" stories, would you milk it for all it was worth?
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mutinyco

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doing it right for the wrong reasons?
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2003, 07:05:08 PM »
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Of course I would. That was the point. But the truth is, I don't think the wunderkind thing is such a great idea. I think in the shadow of Orson Welles there's like this media propaganda about making it really young. The problem is, most people don't have anything to say that young. And it's not a matter of making a feature at that age, it's a matter of making a good feature. Although it's been a lot of hard work, I'm kind of glad it didn't happen when I was 18. I'll do it when the pieces come together. Scripts are there. I know I can do 'em. I'd just rather do 'em right.

One thing to REALLY think about is how many indie movies get made each year. How many of them are ever released? Think of all the people trying to become directors. How many really make it? Of the thousands in the last decade, maybe a dozen have actually gone on to do bigger and better things... Technology is more widely available than ever. Doesn't mean there's any more talent though. And nobody makes it strictly on talent, no matter how good you are.
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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2003, 10:26:20 PM »
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Heh, this would be a good story if he had gotten someone to front the cash for him to make the movie. The fact is, it's mainly his money (college fund) and he's spending it by shooting some story about "life observation" on film? C'mon, the kid is 17, what kind of mindblowing outlook on life could he possibly have? What a waste of cash.

 

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