Interview: Allan Harmon
Really Real Film’s Allan Harmon’s career began 34 years ago as a stage producer, director, and actor. Harmon, originally from upstate New York, toured theatres throughout the United States and Canada, but decided instead to pursue a career in film, television and commercials. He worked as an Assistant Director, Unit Manager and Producer for companies like CBS, Lifetime, CBC, USA Network, Columbia, Tristar, Lions Gate, NBC, MGM, Universal, Fox, ABC, Disney, Paramount, Polygram and Warner Brothers.
Fifteen years ago, Harmon’s directorial credentials led him to major projects. He directed productions for Warner Brothers (“Police Academy”); Tribune/Fireworks/Alliance (“Nightman,” “Andromeda”); TV Ontario (“A Question of Justice”); and the CBC (“Street Legal, Material World”).
In 1998 he and his wife, Cynde, established the Vancouver, British Columbia-based entertainment company, Really Real Films. Their diverse business provided services for film and television throughout Canada and the U.S., and produced award-winning commercials for an elite international clientele: Chanel No 5, directed by Ridley Scott (“Gladiator,” “BladeRunner”); L’Oreal featuring Mila Javovich (“The Messenger,” “Resident Evil,” “Zoolander”); and Humex (Winner Lion D’Or at CANNES).
Harmon directed the feature film, “Afghan Knights,” starring Michael Madsen (“Reservoir Dogs”), Gary Stretch (“Alexander” and “9/11”), Steve Bacic (“Andromeda”), and Chris Kramer (“The Collector”). He added two Lifetime movies to his resume, “Passion’s Web” and “Second Sight,” for which he was nominated Best Direction for a feature length film at the 2008 Leo Awards. He then completed “Trust,” an MOW for TF1 network and Vancouver’s Insight Films, and co-produced and directed Really Real Films’ children’s pilot, “The Magic Backpack,” on “The Greenhouse Effect.”
He is currently anticipating the December 25, 2009 premier of “Wolf Canyon,” the pilot for a half-hour comedy series starring Kevin Sorbo that he co-produced and directed for APTN.
Mr. Harmon graciously answered a few questions for us about “Wolf Canyon”:
SW – Briefly outline “Wolf Canyon.”
AH – Throwing out a wide net to find material for my company to produce I came across the “Wolf Canyon” script two years ago. Loved it! Took it to some networks and the reactions were no, no, no and no. They liked it in every case, but thought the show would be an inside joke. We were told that audiences don’t want to see shows about shows being made. I now refer them to “Entourage,” “30 Rock,” and “Ricky Gervais’ Extras.” Besides, no is a less expensive word than yes for the networks. The network that said maybe was the APTN Network in Canada who then approved financing for the development of the series back in 2008. Over the course of that year “Wolf Canyon’s” bible and pilot episode were written and polished, along with the synopses for a 22-episode arc. In May of 2009, the network green lit the project as a pilot first, then let’s see if there’ll be a pick-up of six more episodes. We’ve shot the pilot and delivered it as of Friday, November 27. It airs here in Canada on Christmas night with another showing on the 26th. Broadcast times are regionally controlled.
SW – What did you enjoy most about this project?
AH – Good question, but impossible to answer. The usual frustrations of financing and pre/pro/post-production were in play throughout. Nothing new there, but the overall thrill of licensing, casting, location scouting, shooting, wrap partying, posting and delivering were as exciting and rewarding as anything I’ve ever done. In fact, “Wolf Canyon” has set the bar with regard to these experiences at a new height. This show is very special.
SW – How did Kevin become involved?
AH – You know I worked on “Andromeda” with Kevin for four years (and) we are both passionate about golf and share enthusiasm for sports in general. So, over the years we’ve become friends and are partnered on several projects that Kevin would star in and my company (would) produce.
When it began to look as if “Wolf Canyon” would be green lit for the pilot episode, I called him and said, “There’s this show I think you’d like, but………and this is a BIG BUT, your character is a `has been,’ drunk, T.V. star.” Pause……….. “Send it to me,” he said. I sent it. Three days later (he sent) a text, “Wolf Canyon is funny, let’s do it.” So we did!
SW – Briefly outline Kevin’s character and elaborate on how the two of you worked together to convey your vision.
AH – The character is Rick Denham. Busted out, doing dinner theatre,“Kiss of the Spiderwoman,”’ in Branson, Missouri, and is shocked to learn the character he plays isn’t some kind of superhero. He gets a call to take over the lead in a hackneyed T.V. series that’s lost its current star to Indy films. The series is shot on an Indian Rez in British Columbia. The pilot episode of our show sets this up for the audience.
Kevin was in Greece working the week before we shot “Wolf Canyon” in October. He phoned me with a couple of ideas about the script that we incorporated into the shoot, and we talked over one or two movie references that might be useful for him in his approach to the role. When he landed on the set and began to wind his way through the part it didn’t take long to see the development of the Rick character into a unique role for Kevin in his career.
This is a promise to his fan base: They have never seen Kevin Sorbo doing a character of this kind. This is new ground for him at least in his television work and it distinctly underscores just what a really good actor he, in fact, is.
SW – Describe what it’s like working with Kevin.
AH – For me and, in fact, for most people, it’s a pleasure. Kevin works with lightning speed. He makes acting look easy because he has such a facility for the technical craft. You frequently shoot and print his rehearsals. He’s always on script, almost never goes dry, and can give you a good nine pages of dialogue a day if need be; probably more if you wanted, but that would put production in a precarious position to make anything of any real quality.
Also, everyone likes him: crew, actors, or whoever visits the set. He’s remained a real and accessible person in spite of enormous international fame. It’s not an easy thing to maintain in your life, I’m sure, but Kevin manages his fame with ease.
SW – What is the next step for “Wolf Canyon” after it airs later this month?
AH – We’d love a pick-up of six more (episodes) from the network we’re with for starters. We’ll be shopping it to networks in the U.S. as well – more network partners for as many as up to 65 episodes. When that’s played out, re-runs in syndication and DVD sales in the video stores. Drunken little womanizing action figures would be fun, too, I think. Flip a switch on its back and it pukes on you. Something for the kids.
SW- How can Kevin’s fans help promote this?
AH – We’ll get our Exec assistant Shawn O’Smack (Smolensky) to set you up with the email addresses you can flood with petitions. This network is responsive to that approach.
I love you guys for doing this. Artists need support from knowledgeable fan-based groups like yours. Please, keep up the good work. Let us know if there’s more we can do for your members.
All my best to you all,
Please see the Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/wolfcanyon
Petitions regarding “Wolf Canyon” should be emailed to: email@example.com
Received this very nice message from the great folks at APTN: “Anything we can do to help! You can also plug it on our facebook page:
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(Photos courtesy of Really Real Films)