Wednesday 14 November 2018

Interview with Harry Locke IV - Director, THE CITY OF GOLD

Harry Locke’s latest film is The City of Gold, an action-adventure movie due for release in December. We caught up with the talented, amiable filmmaker to discuss his transition from making short fan-films to bonafide star-driven featues.

When did you come down with the filmmaking bug, Harry?

I was about 14 or 15-years-old when I first started dabbling with taking written word and committing it to screen. A couple of my high-school English teachers allowed us to experiment with doing book presentations outside of the usual three-page paper structure. So I got together with a small group of my friends, and we began shooting what were essentially short films to present to the class. I absolutely fell in love with the collaborative spirit of production, the decisions made in the editorial process, and the excitement of showcasing the finished work to an audience.

Had you had family or friends in the industry? 

My father was a Lab Technician in the steel industry, but he had great writing and communication abilities. My mother is a Registered Nurse, with some of the most creative sensibilities of anyone I have ever met. Even though I did not grow up entrenched with film industry folks around me, I thoroughly credit my parents with teaching me the building blocks I use in the filmmaking process.

Do you remember your first camera? 

I worked a part-time job at my local library to save enough money to buy a used Canon GL1 that had a ton of mileage on it and three very noticeable dead pixels, but I absolutely loved it. My friends and I used it to shoot a film called NOIR, which was a feature-length endeavour that showcased us running around the Chicagoland area as hit men that were part of a secret organization.

Most filmmakers, especially when they’re starting out, have to hold down another job at the same time – at least until one of their films hits big. Was that the case for you? 

Yes, and I have been fortunate that my “day-jobs” have been highly beneficial in furthering along my directing endeavours. I was hired by Ronald Blum to direct The City of Gold right around the time I graduated from film school and was heading into my first post-college gig as an editing instructor for a new film program. The program sent me to Maui, Hawaii to teach a week long intensive where I was connected with Tracy Bennett, Maui’s film commissioner. Tracy encouraged Ron and I to bring our production to Maui, and it was an interaction I would have never made had it not been for my job. Following principal photography, I found full-time employment as a colorist and online editor for Different By Design, an award winning post-production facility in Santa Monica. The owners assisted in giving my editor and I space to cut The City of Gold in the after hours when client work was completed.

How many films have you done? 

Since working at Different By Design, I have accumulated over 100 on-screen credits as either a colorist, online-editor, or post-production supervisor. Some of the films I have worked on include ICARUS, which won the 2018 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary and Sean Baker’s Tangerine, which was a breakout at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Having the opportunity to work closely with such acclaimed filmmakers really helped shape some of the decisions I made during the post-production process of The City of Gold. You learn all the things they don’t teach you at film school.

How did you get The City of Gold going? 

Robbie Allen, who plays the lead in The City of Gold, brought the project to my attention about a month prior to my graduation from the University of Southern California. Robbie and I had completed a John Constantine fan-film called, Hellblazer, which was enjoying moderate success online. Robbie shared the short film with Ronald Blum, who was impressed enough to consider me in bringing The City of Gold from script to screen. I met with Ron and his wife Devorah at a Cheescake Factory restaurant one evening, and we all instantly connected over the script and the desire to make an awesome movie. From that evening forward, we banded together and forged ahead in making the film a reality. 

Ronald Blum wrote the screenplay. Did you and Ronald share the same vision for the film or did you have to compromise here and there?

Ron had initially written the script almost 20 years ago, so there was a level of sanctity that I inherently placed in the material without him ever saying it. While I knew things would have to change here and there due to budgetary or technical reasons, I made it a key focus to make sure Ron’s vision was preserved and that he was satisfied with the final product that was created. I am eternally grateful to him, for giving a 25-year-old who was fresh out of film school, the opportunity to develop a script he had been nurturing for two decades.

How would you describe the movie to someone looking at renting it come December?

The City of Gold is a supernatural adventure/thriller that should make fans of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider feel right at home with its blend of action, mystery, plot twists, and the pursuit of a long fabled treasure!