Q & A with J. Harland Lockhart
As promised earlier in the week, today SpeakingGeek would like to introduce you to J. Harland Lockart (Jamie, to friends), an up-and-coming director/writer/producer based in Pittsburgh, PA with a long-standing love for films of all genre. Lockhart, whose real passion lies in the horror and sci-fi realms, is a graduate of Point Park University with a B.A. in Cinema and Digital Arts. I’ve known Lockhart since middle school and can attest to the fact that this guy is a true geek, just like you and I. Without further ado, let’s get this thing going.
Follow me after the jump for Lockhart’s first U.S. interview! AMERICA! F*CK YEAH!
MB – Greetings and salutations, sir!
JL – Same to you, friend-o!
MB – What do you say we just jump right in to this thing?
JL – Fire away, comrade.
MB – At what age did you realize film making was your passion and what do you think propelled or set that desire in motion?
JL – When I was twelve I saw Star Wars and that’s when I knew it. Before then I thought I wanted to be an animator.. then I realized that making movies is the greatest job in the universe.
MB – And it didn’t take you long to start making your own home movies, did it?
JL – My first movies were all me and my friend Ryan Huffman goofing around with our dad’s cameras and editing VHS to VHS… then around the high school era I got a then new computer that had Pinnacle Studio editing software. I really then fell in love with editing and made a feature length film called “The Renegade” which I worked on for about three years. After that I attended film school at Point Park University in Pittsburgh and earned my B.A. in Cinema and Digital Arts.
MB – Oh yes, Renegade. Fun fact, I was originally played a character named Polaris in “The Renegade.” However, I didn’t return phone calls or show up for shoots, so I was cut from the film altogether.
JL – That’s true. I even included a special non-credit for you during the end credits.
MB – Something like, “WE WOULD LIKE TO NOT THANK MICHAEL BURGESS IN ANY WAY FOR HIS HELP MAKING THIS FILM!”
JL – Yeah, something like that.
MB – Who would you say were/are your biggest inspirations or idols in the film business? And, given the opportunity, who would you most like to work with?
JL – Wow. What a loaded question.
MB – Here at SpeakingGeek, we ask the tough questions!
JL – My favorite directors are Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo Del Toro, James Cameron, George Lucas, and Tim Burton… so any of them I would love to work with. I know it sounds kinda cliche’ but those are the guys that make the types of films that I really enjoy – genre films. I love films that are big and loud and transport me into an alternate reality and these filmmakers just totally get it. As far as deceased directors I’d of course say Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini just to name a few.
MB – A lot of my favorites popping up there. I’d switch Lucas for the Coens, but that’s just me. What about actors?
JL – As far as actors/actresses I’d probably go with Gary Oldman, James Spader, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Arnold Schwarzenneger, Hugh Jackman, Natalie Portman, Olivia Wilde, and Cate Blanchett… they are just really awesome people… or at least seem like it on film.
MB – So now that we know a a little bit about who and what you like, what problems do you have with the current trend in horror films?
JL – The problem with the horror genre is that so much has been done that its hard to come up with something original anymore hence all the un-necessary remakes. When it comes to horror, people tend to stick with the familiar name. What is hurting the horror genre the most for me is character development. Many filmmakers nowadays crank out horror films and don’t spend time casting or developing their characters properly. What makes a horror film effective are characters you care about pitting against the unknown.. look at The Exorcist, The Shining, (the original) Nightmare on Elm Street… these films had characters we didn’t want to see get slashed up or possessed and those movies all scare us. I want to try to channel the feelings I had watching those films to an audience. I want to scare the bee-gee-zus outta them and make them think these foes could actually be real.
MB – Let’s talk about your short film, FILE 0529.
JL – FILE 0529 was originally my senior thesis project at Point Park University and it couldn’t have been possible without my good friend Pittsburgh artist John Ross. It was really the fantastic location that he got us that shaped the film and put it in the right direction. However, FILE is what it is now for the two years off and on re-editing and re-editing that film over and over again to get it to where it is now. Originally it ran around 15 minutes then we went back through and took out six minutes of stuff that we didn’t need (dialogue, extra scenes, etc.) and shaped it into something far more bad ass then when we were originally filming it. I’m very happy with it now and can actually move on and let my baby be, haha!
MB – You told me that the original cut of FILE 0529 is still handed out to incoming/prospective Point Park students?
JL – That’s true. That said, the film actually hasn’t at all found an audience. I’ve posted it online everywhere I can think and it gets hardly any views. This summer will actually be the first film festival its been in – The First Annual Pittsburgh Horror Film Festival- in Monroeville, PA the first weekend of June at the Civic Center. Aside from this showing, its been reviewed by a couple indie Horror magazines such as Australian based publication “Synergy” Magazine and Beyondtherealms.com – I’m really hoping at some point in the future it will find its audience and I’ll be able to get some funding to make the feature length version of the story… which is actually a trilogy. Oh, yeah!
MB- What else are you working on right now?
JL – Right now, my primary focus has been on feature length projects I’m trying to write and get off the ground. The first of which is a documentary on the Flatwoods Monster incident in 1952 in Flatwoods, West Virginia*. Seven people had a close encounter and the Government has gone to great lengths to cover it up. There is a very interesting book by Frank Feschino, Jr. (Shoot Them Down – The Flying Saucer Air Wars of 1952) on the subject that is the basis for the film. I also am working on developing a sci-fi web series and have a couple other scripts I’ve been working on.
MB – Describe your dream project or maybe give us some series you’d like to reboot or helm a sequel/prequel to.
JL – As far as a dream project goes I really want to breathe life into the “Critters” series and make “Critters 3D” – a dark sci-fi/horror re-boot of that franchise. Of course I would also love to make video game Metal Gear Solid a movie…or any Marvel/DC film, for that matter. If I could do a sequel to an ongoing franchise I have to say anything in the Star Wars Universe.. The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite film of all time and I have a huge affection to that series. I’d also like to do my version of the TRON universe.. or The Matrix. Realistically though, I just want to make something that entertains people. I hope that I am able to do that for the rest of my life.
MB – I want to thank Mr. Lockhart for lending SpeakingGeek his time and patience. If you haven’t already, please make sure to check out his final cut of FILE 0529 by following the link in the Q&A and the pictures at the bottom of the page. You can follow Lockhart on Twitter @jhl5films for news on his projects as they continue to develop!