Today’s interview is with Brandon Harris. Brandon is a film critic, a filmmaker, and a producer. He attended Suny Purchase. He recently made the film Redlegs, which was screened at a number of film festivals around the nation. He’s written articles for FIlmmaker Magazine, Variety, Hammer to Nail, among other magazines, blogs, and news outlets. Brandon also has film reviews at Indiewire.
Justin Samuels: What did you study at Suny Purchase? How was your experience there?
Brandon Harris: It was incredible. I studied filmmaking. I focused on narrative, film history, and theory. It was the defining experience of my youth. I was in the conservatory, and it was much different than it is now. I was learning how to make films when film as a medium was just beginning its oddly quick death. Regardless, I learned to cut with my hands.
JS: What festivals were your first film, Redlegs screened at?
BH: May 3rd, Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Arts Council’s Scene:Brooklyn (Sneak Preview)
May 25th-31st, Brooklyn, NY – ReRun GastroPub Theater (World Premiere Theatrical Run)
June 21st, Brooklyn, NY – Northside Festival
June 25th-26th, Oranjestad, Aruba – Aruba International Film Festival (International Premiere)
August 10th-16th, Portland, OR – Clinton Street Theater
August 20th, Brooklyn, NY – Filmwax Screening Series, Franklin Park
August 26th, Dayton, OH – FilmDayton Festival
September 30th, Hagatna, Guam – Guam International Film Festival (Asian Premiere)
October 6th, Hartford, CT – Real Art Ways
November 2nd-3rd, Bellingham, WA – Pickford Film Center
November 3rd, Memphis, TN – Indie Memphis Film Festival
November 16th-20th, Cincinnati, OH – Esquire Theater
December 4th & 7th, Anchorage, AK – Anchorage International Film Festival
December 5th, Pleasantville, NY – Jacob Burns Film Center
December 8th-9th, 11th, Bahamas – Bahamas international Film Festival
April 11th-13th, Cleveland, OH – Cleveland International Film Festival
April 14th, 16th-17th, Krakow, Poland – Off Plus Camera International Festival of Independent Cinema (European Premiere)
JS: Where can audiences view Redlegs at?
BH: It’ll be available on various VOD platforms this fall.
JS:What is the film about?
BH: I think it’s about the end of a certain kind of American boyhood. You have no real reason to hang out with people when you’re a kid, but you do anyway. You get together after school, you bike somewhere, you blow up a frog, or throw a football. Then you reach a certain age, and adult responsibilities become so important in how we construct our identity. What this film became about for all of us, though I think other significant matters are lurking on the periphery,was the end of a group relationship. And it’s only under duress that the reasons why that’s happening are explored by the people it’s happening to. What we had to do was fight to make the movie both fair and tough toward all three of these individuals.
JS: A big part of what you do is review movies. What’s that like? Does reviewing movies influence you as a screenwriter or filmmaker?
BH: Absolutely. How can you watch so many movies critically and not have it affect your own aesthetic preferences? It definitely informs how I see things, what I like, what I think works, etc. As for film criticism as a job? It sucks. Lousy pay. Good hours though.
JS: Any filmmakers out there now that you particularly admire?
BH: Carlos Reygadas. Michael Haneke. James Gray. David Lynch. Charles Burnett. Phil Morrison. Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Godard. The list goes on and on.
JS: How did you get started as a film critic?
BH: I created Cinema Echo Chamber on January 1st, 2006 and for most of that year I rarely posted at all. Through a variety of different opportunities I had the chance to consume new movies more easily and access to filmmakers. In 2007, I began to devote the blog to incisive reviews (hopefully), festival coverage, the occasional interview with intriguing, underexposed filmmakers, and when provoked, more penetrating, broader cultural criticism, especially as it pertains to film. That led to paid work at places like Filmmaker Magazine, SpoutBlog, L Magazine, UCLA Magazine, MovieMaker, The Daily Beast, etc.
JS: Any new film projects we should be on the look out for from you?
BH: Yes. I produced a Korean American psychosexual thriller last fall. I’m producing a movie about a Japanese janitor who becomes a cowboy in the American southwest this coming fall. And I’m writing things of various sizes and shapes.
JS: Would you ever consider teaching film or writing?
BH: I have in the past, at the New York Film Academy. I’d be happy to again sometime.
JS: Are there any books in the works?
BH: I wish!