Anchor Interview with Hollywood Writer, Director and Producer Aaron Harvey

Callie Junkins, Staff Writer

Earlier in the month, PIHS students shared questions they have for professionals in the world of acting, directing and producing.

And Hollywood answered.

Read, watch or listen below as people from the heart of the film industry spend time talking to our PIHS community.

Aaron Harvey is a writer, producer, and director in Los Angeles, California. He worked on movies such as Echoes, Catch 44, The Neighbour, Into the Ashes, and a documentary called Valerie. 

Anchor: How long does it take to make a movie?

It takes a long time to make a movie.  Usually it starts with a good script.  If you write the script yourself, that could take you six months or more to do.  Then, you have to send the script around to producers to see if anyone is interested in making it or helping you put it together.  If they are, then it can take another couple of years at least to get it done because you have to raise money, cast the actors, put together all the crew, shoot the film and then go through post production (editing, coloring, sound mixing).  Usually from start to finish, a typical film takes about 2 years to make.  If you’re lucky, you can sometimes get them made quicker, but for the most part 2+ years is typical for a film to get made.  The shooting of the film itself is only a month or two itself.  Usually between 20 to 35 days of actual shooting.

Anchor: Did you always know you wanted to be a producer?

I didn’t always want to be a producer per se, as I was always interested in writing and directing, but by virtue of the fact that I wanted to get my own films made, I sort of took on the producer role as well.  It’s hard to get a film made and I realized that if I knew what all the jobs entailed (which is what a producer should know), as well as what all the money gets spent on, then I’d have a better shot at getting my films going.  I realized though that I did like producing once I got into it, but it was always a means to an end for me.  Writing and directing were always what I wanted to do though personally.

Anchor: What can you give someone to help them succeed in the film industry?

Don’t stop and work hard.  Perseverance is probably the #1 thing, because most people try for a year or two and give up.  It takes a lot longer than that to really understand what you’re doing and also getting things going.  Once you get your feet planted in the business, then it’s up to your own personal talent to sustain you and push you as far as you can go.  But don’t stop, just keep working hard and not worry too much about what’s going on around you or how successful other people have been – just focus on yourself and your work and you’ll get there.  Also be friendly with everyone and stay humble – that helps. 

Anchor: What drew you to the film business?

I love movies.  Always wanted to be a filmmaker, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Anchor: How does directing differ from producing?

They’re incredibly different.  With directing it’s more focused and you’re responsible primarily for the creative integrity of the film and telling the story of the film the right way (working with actors, setting up shots, etc).  With producing, your viewpoint on the film is much more broad since you’re also handling most of the business of the film as well – making deals, putting together the financing, finding the distribution, etc… so both jobs are very important but also very different.  A good producer is also a creative person who knows how the film should end up, and a good director is also a good businessman or woman who stays responsible to the financial and business considerations of the film.

Anchor: What is it like to be behind the camera, in charge of what’s going on?

Best feeling in the world and also the most stressful feeling in the world.  It’s amazing to be able to actually make your film happen and be creatively responsible – but it’s also squarely on your shoulders if the film works or fails.  So it’s simultaneously incredibly exciting to get to do it (since it’s so rare in the first place), but also arguably the most stressful thing you’ll ever do.  Perhaps that’s why it’s also the most satisfying thing to accomplish – since there’s such a struggle to get a film made in the first place!