Senior Cole Webb Harter is a director and writer who shares his inspirations and from where his creativity and love of storytelling comes.
MH: How did you realize you were interested in film, particularly writing and directing?
CH: Well, I’m a writer because I want to direct my own content. I want it to be my thing. I knew when I was six, because I read this book called The Ghost of Fossil Glen and I was like, “Man, this is a good book, why hasn’t anyone made a movie about this?” So I decided, “Oh, I should do that” and I started drawing out storyboards of this book. At six years old, that was the first thing I thought I wanted to make.
MH: Who are some people who inspire you? In what way are you inspired?
CH: David Lynch, Flannery O’Connor, the Coen brothers, Joseph Conrad… I like that kind of stuff. I really like things that are really dreamy and sort of focused in an irritating kind of way. I love to just linger on something until people go crazy. For one thing, it’s a cheap way to build suspense because people are used to a shot changing every couple seconds or every sixth of a second. If you hold a shot for a long time, people are expecting the next shot to start and when it doesn’t, that makes them feel anxious. So it builds tension and suspense without actually having to do any work. It’s like when you have an obsessive thought that keeps coming back, you can’t get away from it — you just gotta look at it. I love that kind of thing, slowing down. It’s sort of like going out of time and letting the images and the sounds wash over you like a wave. It’s a cool place to be.
MH: What are you working on for senior projects?
CH: I actually wrote a script for my senior project credit, based on a true story which happened to Mr. Paul Campa. He told this crazy story for his credo for one of Professor Riley’s classes and I thought, “damn, that’s good”. It’s called The Great Millennial Curbstomp of Irvine. It’s about the dark underbelly of the safest city in America – Irvine, California.
MH: Rumor has it you and Jacob Miller have started a podcast. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
CH: We do! It’s called Maria-O’s Wasteland 404. 404 is our apartment number. Wasteland is a tribute to our apartment, our minds, T.S. Eliot, and a little show called Red Eye, which was the weirdest show on Fox News for 10 years. It was originally going to be called Wasteland, but they thought that it would repulse people so they changed the name of the show to Red Eye. We go on there and talk trash. It’s kind of a parody but kinda not. We have fun.
MH: How did the idea of a podcast come to be? And how long have you been producing your podcast?
CH: We were having a conversation one night and we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could hear our conversations?” So, we started uploading to SoundCloud, it’s been a couple of weeks, maybe about a month.
MH: Do you have any other projects going on?
CH: I’ve got a documentary that was shot last weekend. It’s about Sam Carts and I going up to Northern California and crawling around in the Trees of Mystery. So that’ll be sort of a cerebral, extended montage kind of thing with probably some Yeats poetry and some strange esoteric music thrown in. It’ll be cool. I don’t really know how to make documentaries, because I usually have something in my head so it’s hard not to stage things. So it’s sort of a non-fictional story more than a documentation of the facts. I’m not sure what we’re going to call it yet.
MH: What would you say has been your favorite project you’ve worked during your time here?
CH: My favorite is the short film, Lactose Intolerance. One day, I put my elbow down on a table and I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had functioning nipples on our elbows?” So, I came up with an idea of a movie where a guy sews his nipples to his elbow and it became this whole thing about gender and battle of the sexes. He’s trying to get a girl to notice him so he has to emasculate himself to get her attention. That’s my favorite one because I think it’s the most interesting and best put together.
MH: If you hadn’t chosen to pursue directing and writing, what would you see yourself doing?
CH: Music is really fun. I should’ve become a choir director or something like that. And I’m good at writing- could have had things published. I’d probably still do short films though.
MH: What is it about short films that you love so much?
CM: Short films are really fun because you don’t have to worry about all the crap you have to worry about with a feature film. You can’t waste twelve minutes looking at a door knob in a feature film, you have to have some story, which is fine. In fact, those are even more interesting sometimes cause when you’re writing convincing characters, you’re kind of delving into yourself a little bit. You throw them together and see what happens and that can be really enlightening. Short films are more for abstract ideas and weird little things that you’re focused on like lamps and certain noises and doors and music. A feature film has to be about something more than that, so you’re more constrained.
MH: Post-graduation plans?
CH: I have a couple scripts that I could produce if I came across some money. Other than that, I’m gonna hang out in San Diego for a while.
To check out Cole and Jacob’s podcast, click on the following link : https://m.soundcloud.com/wasteland-404