Sunday, January 24, 2010

Take 5 with "The Mountain, The River and The Road"

The 7th annual Oxford Film Festival is getting closer every day. Before we kick off another fun-packed festival, we thought we would take five with filmmakers and get to know them just a little better.

Michael Harring, director of "The Mountain, The River and The Road" shares with us a bit about his film that screens Friday, Feb. 5 at 2:45 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 7 at 1:30 p.m.

OFF: In 10 words, describe your movie and why someone should see it.

MH: Romance!  Travel!  Funny!  Touching!  Justin Rice, Tipper Newton, Joe Swanberg!

OFF: Biggest lesson learned in getting the film made? Best part in getting the film made?

MH: Be flexible but persistent.  Our picture car broke down in between Curtin, OR and Stockton, CA where we would be stopping for the night.  Actually, it broke down about 100 miles north of Stockton.  We needed that car for several more scenes in the movie and for a while there it looked like that might have been the end of the movie.  It could have been. I distinctly remember thinking that this might be a good excuse to end what was already a very trying shoot.  But we didn’t.  In the morning, I got up early with my dad to see if we could fix the car, and when we couldn’t I wrote the break down into the script and ironed the details out with the help of Justin, Joe and Ryan McMackin, the DP, and we went out and shot the scene with Jeff and Tom at the car.  It’s a little rough, but it’s a much more interesting scene than it would have been if the car hadn’t broken down. In fact, I’d say that the movie’s just a little more interesting because of it.

The best part of the whole thing was getting to work with my family on and off the screen. I included family members on screen with the cast, to create a kind of time capsule.  That way, if all else was a disaster I’d still have something that would have a very personal value to me.  This recently became more relevant to me since my grandma, who plays Cat’s grandma in the movie, passed away.  I remember her getting up early to help my mom with the food in the morning and staying up as late as 5am while we shot the entire snow scene outside the cabin where she lives.  I certainly made more than my share of bad decisions while making the movie, but that wasn’t one of them.  It’s not as good as having her here in person, but it’s a little bit better than a photograph.

OFF: Tell us about you. What is your movie making background?

MH: I’ve always been a fan of movies. In high school I published zines and mini comics, but my greatest fascination was always film.  I got my BA in Cinema Studies at the University of Washington and learned the basics of production at the Media School (now the Seattle Film Institute). My grad school was three years working at the world famous Scarecrow Video in Seattle and making three short films and two music videos.  Around 2004 I moved to Los Angeles and in late 2007 I moved back to Seattle to make The Mountain, The River and The Road.

OFF:  What’s your dream distribution plan for the film?

MH: I would love for everyone to at least have access to the film, for it to just be available.  That way if they hear about it, or stumble upon something about it, they can check it out, whether that means mail ordering a DVD, online-streaming, or downloading through Amazon or iTunes.  As far as theatrical… this IS my theatrical!

OFF: What’s the future hold in store for your film and for you?

MH: Just when I think I’m nearing the end of the journey of The Mountain, The River and The Road, something else seems to pop up.  The future is unclear and that makes it exciting.  Hopefully there will be a few more festival screenings, other than that I do hope to have it available in some form or another by the end of 2010!
I’m already editing my second feature, a thriller called Lauren is Missing.  I learned so much from making MRR that I wanted to get right back to work.  Once LIM is done I hope to make one of two projects I’ve wanted to make for a while.  One is a kind of psychotronic coming of age movie that I’ve already written and the other is a peculiar revenge story I plan to start writing as soon as LIM is complete.

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