Monday, January 21, 2013
Spotlight On...Mark Harris
Hometown: Ontario, CA
Education: I was trained as an actor at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts
Favorite Credits: Writer/Director (You mean my credits, right?)
Tell us about The Lost Children: The Lost Children is a Transmedia project about The Lost Children cult. There is a short film that tells the story of the lead character Evelyn Hamilton finding the cult, a feature film about Evelyn's deprogramming, a live event that places the audience in the position of potential cult recruits and a science lecture designed to keep the audience's mind balanced and grounded as they deal with the cult's mystical claims. You can get a full sense of the world at the site: http://thelostchildrenmovie.com. The self-help organization's site is here: http://www.chancesturges.com
What inspired you to create The Lost Children?: A conversation with a friend about a court case she studied in college. In this court case, a young woman had sued her parents for kidnapping her out of a cult. Beyond that, I have always had a fascination with faith, belief, mankind's need to believe in something beyond what we can see, and the lengths people will go for belief. I find cults a good lens for viewing these issues.
What kind of media speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Right now, live immersive experiences mostly. And video games. I am becoming more and more interested in art that creates a space for the audience to play. Ann Hamilton's recent show at the armory was a good example of this. This element is certainly a part of The Lost Children live event, but even more so in my next play, which includes an actual game. I love filmed stuff. But more and more I am drawn to TV over movies, due to the complexity of character and storyline it affords. I'm very inspired by a lot of fellow Transmedia people. Lance Weiler, Mike Monello & Steve Coulson. They are all very generous with their knowledge. Lance inspires me to not care so much what people think and just work on what I want to work on. I am constantly amazed with the wide and bizarre range of his work. Steve and Mike have taught me a lot about focusing on human behavior, rather than technology, say. I am kind of known as a "technology person" in the Transmedia world, so am working hard to make sure I focus on character/story first, tech second.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Punchdrunk. Secret Cinema. I'm actually getting to work with some amazing people right now, and into 2013. Marisa Jahn, Murmur, some great young actors. I love working with my wife. She is an artist and makes some things for my projects.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: Epic's Dispatches from an Amended America. James Carter's NY_Hearts LES. Vampire Cowboys. The Underdeveloped and Overexposed Life & Death of Deena Domino. There's a lot of amazing theater in the city right now, and this year I vow to work less and see more of it.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: “Does Not Play Well with Others", starring Nick Nolte
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Downton Abby
What’s up next?: I was just up in Amherst Mass on a playwriting residency, workshopping a new piece. It's an immersive zombie apocalypse experience with a game, an embedded play, an explorable environment and technology integration. I will continue working on that this year. Otherwise, there are a couple of new Transmedia client projects coming up I'm excited about.