Filmmaker Evan Hara has already had an impressive start to his short career, with a number of short films under his belt, a feature film in the festival circuit, and a television pilot in development. What makes Hara’s accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that he’s still in high school.
We had the chance to speak to the seventeen year old writer/director about his emerging career.
When did you first find interested in filmmaking?
Well, I used to steal my dad’s camcorder as a kid and film all of my hot wheels cars, but officially I got into it around age 12. I started going to a school in Dallas called Dallas Young Actor’s Studio, where they offered acting and filmmaking. I learned every aspect of filmmaking at that school; how to direct, how to edit, how to do special effects, sound. Basically everything you need to do a film. It kind of sparked from there, and I guess I took the initiative to start making my own films because they had projects at school, but I had my own ideas.
After a series of short films, you’ve written and directed your first feature, The Boundary. What can you tell us about it?
The Boundary is about a fighter pilot named Miles, played by Colton Tapp, who is on a hiatus right now as the result of a crash that traumatized him, so he is taking a break and spending time with his family and wife. He was one of the best fighter pilots in the Air Force, so NASA comes to him and says, “Hey, I know you are taking a break right now, but do you want to join us on this mission to the edge of the universe?” NASA has come to the conclusion that the universe is a simulation and that it has flaws and there are errors, and they have this code that proved it. So, basically, his mission is to get to the edge of the universe and potentially see what it is, and see what is out there, and to get outside of the simulation.
How much scientific research did you do, or is it completely fantasy based?
We actually did a bunch of research. My dad went to MIT and he is super big on science, so I worked with him a lot, as well as the director at my acting studio. He helped a bunch with the science because we’re both big sci fi nerds. But it is an actual theory. It was really interesting.
You seem to have gotten the scientific stamp of approval, because Neil DeGrasse Tyson appears in the film.
Yeah, yeah! I was really excited about that.
How did you approach him?
Well, we were trying to think of bigger names we could get to just play this little cameo in the film. I was sitting at home and I was watching Nova and I was like, “You know what? That would be a really cool guy to get to the in the film.” So we sent out a bunch of emails to him. I dug through because he had a lot to do with the Hayden Planetarium in NY, so I kind of fished through the website of NASA and I got to the old websites and his email was just on there before email was big, I guess. I sent him an email, and he responded about four months later. It was pretty short and simple. He said “I’m sorry I’m a little late, Evan, but the universe has kept me quite busy lately. I’d love to do your film.”
Does he have thoughts on the theory that is presented in the film?
Yeah, he does. I had done a little research on him first, and he has talked about the theory of the universe being a simulation, and he has his opinions on it, but we didn’t really talk much about it. We talked about the script and what he thought was right, and he kind of helped direct us in the right direction as far as getting our science on point.
You seem to have surrounded yourself with a decent crew of guys that are just as passionate about filmmaking as you are.
I definately have. We all have our own roles that we usually do for each film. Ben Shedon is our boom guy, and David Gutierrez has been the director of photography on a lot of my films. It’s primarily David and myself filming. Jackson Redding and I started to partner up recently with our own production company. So yeah, we have a really, really nice crew that I love to work with.
How did you initially hook up with Colton?
It was a funny story how I met Colton. We were casting for The Boundary, and I saw his tape and I really wanted him, but his agent wasn’t really getting back to us. I found him on Instagram and I was like “Dude, hey, I really loved your tape. Your agent is not getting back to me. Do you want to be in this?” And he said “Yeah, yeah, I’ll look into it.” We were actually at the same film festival about a week later, so I ran up and introduced myself, and we hit it off from there.
The Boundary is in the festival circuit right now, correct?
Yes. It has hit the Alhambra Film Festival, and we won first place at the UIL State film festival in Texas. And then it is in a few others.
Are you targeting festivals that have younger demographics because of your age?
Yeah, we targeted a bunch that have younger demographics just because I think we would probably do a little bit better because we’re really blessed with all of the technology we have compared to other students. But we did submit to a few non-student festivals.
Are you concerned about you age being an issue?
It depends on the festival, I guess. They could look down upon that or praise it. But my age is a serious thing. There’s been a lot of problems
Has there really?
Yeah. My age is good to an extent, because at some point I can use it to my advantage and say, “Hey, this is a student film,” so you can get some locations for free, you can get around some of the filming laws, but as far as that, it has been a little bit of a struggle because people don’t really take you seriously.
So, what’s next?
Well, I am so excited for the two next things. I really wanted to do a race film, and I had a connection to the super car industry, so I just wrapped shooting that. It’s going to premier at Angelika Film Theater in Plano [Texas] in a couple of from weeks now, but yeah, yeah. I’m super excited about that.
And you have a TV pilot called Runaways, correct?.
Yes, that is what I’m really excited about. We’ve been working on for about two years now. It’s been up and down, and it’s been flipped around so many times. We started it about two years ago. Myself and a writer named Tim Ogletree started writing it in December of 2015 when I was working on Boundary. The script has changed about 30 times and people have came in and left, but we’re finally ready to shoot this summer. Attached to the film are [Disney Channel stars] Bradley Steven Perry (Good Luck Charlie), Jake Short (A.N.T. Farm), and Piper Curda (I Didn’t Do It). Our director is going to be Katie Leclerc from Freeform’s Switched at Birth. So we’re going to make the TV pilot and then, with pilot season, ship it off and do some pitches. So I have never really experienced that before. But that will be really cool.
So, what is your game plan for the next few years?
Well, it kind of depends if and how the show takes off because that is one of the only things going right now. But if it takes off, I would just stay with the show and see where that goes. But if not, I’m aiming to go to college out in LA. once I’m out of public school.
Transcribing services by Eaya Moore.