Actor from BIG FISH, MATLOCK and REVENGE talks about filming in Concord, North Carolina for his new movie JIMMY
Keith Harris plays Brother Fitzgerald in the faith based movie, “Jimmy,” which shot in Concord and Charlotte, North Carolina. In the movie Brother Fitzgerald guides the spirit of the main character, a mentally challenged boy named Jimmy.
Harris scheduled to attend this year’s Modern Film Fest after party at the Forty Six Restaurant in Kannapolis. “Jimmy” screens at 7 p.m. at the Gem Theatre, Kannapolis and the after party starts at 9 p.m. at the restaurant, which is next door to the theatre. Tickets for the movie are $4 or patrons can purchase an after party ticket for $40 which includes admission to the movie as well. Other guests at this year’s after party include Burgess Jenkins, who plays the villain Jake Garner in, “Jimmy;” Nicholas Meyer, the director of, “Star Trek: Wrath of Khan”; Joanne Hock, the director of, “Martin Hill: Camera Man” and “Redneck Roots”; Ken Wyatt, the director of, “Colored Confederates: Myth or Matter of Fact?” and others.
Harris has appeared in more than 40 roles in movies and TV shows including Tim Burton’s, “Big Fish”; “Matlock”; “Junebug”; and “Revenge.”
Modern Film Fest was able to talk to Harris about his career and here are just a few highlights he talked about:
MODERN FILM FEST: Can you talk a little about your character of Brother Fitzgerald in, "Jimmy" and your role in the movie?
KEITH HARRIS: “I think the pastor was a genuine man of God. Someone who loves his job and the people he serves - and he cares about helping out where he can.
MFF: How did you go about developing that character?
KH: “The biggest problem I have with most ‘pastor’ characters in the movies is most times seem ‘tele-evangelist’ like. While there are many pastors in that category that have strong sincere faith - unless you are a Christian already - they don't (at times) come off as genuine.”
“The character of Brother Fitzgerald seemed to me a man of character and I wanted to pay homage to the pastor, ‘in the trenches’ so to speak. So as I developed the character I pulled from pastors who I know as friends and who model the sincerity Brother Fitzgerald needed.”
MFF: You guys filmed in downtown Concord. Can you talk a little about filming in our community and what it was like working on this movie?
KH: “The very first feature film I was in as a lead was shot in that area back in 97. We shot it for a $1.50 and a cheese doodle - but man it was fun! love working in that area - lots of great locations and history.”
MFF: What lead you to want to be in, "Jimmy?"
KH: “Two words: Mark Frieburger. I've worked with him on several occasions and he is a director with a vision and he knows how to bring the stories to life.”
MFF: It looks like you have been working with Mark Freiburger since his first movie, "The Dog Days of Summer." Can you talk about your working relationship with him and how that has evolved into your acting in, "Jimmy?"
KH: “I've worked with Mark since some of his student films. I've seen him develop his style, ‘in the trenches’ so to speak. He has the rare ability to really collaborate. Directors can get tunnel vision - Mark listens and if a suggestion serves the story he acts on it.”
“In ‘Dog Days’ we actually rewrote a section of the story line for my character together. Ultimately it is his call. He may or may not choose to use an idea - but you can leave knowing that he has listened and really heard you. He is a man of integrity and honesty.”
MFF: How did you get involved in acting and how has your career developed over the years? It looks like you have had a steady career with 46 titles.
KH: “I knew when I was nine or ten years old it's what I wanted to do. I grew up in the small town of Reidsville, NC - so there weren't a lot of opportunities except school plays - (all of which I did). I went to college and got my degrees, then started pounding the pavement. However, I find myself pulling from those small town experiences all the time - especially for a character like Brother Fitzgerald.”
MFF: Can you talk about your experience with the North Carolina film industry and how it is developing more and more?
KH: “I lived in LA for about five years - I had more work in the first four months of moving back to NC than I did in the last year and a half in LA. It's been good to see the state stay competitive with the incentive program for filming in state.”
“The thing I love about films like, ‘Jimmy’ is it's indigenous! A lot of films come in from out of state and shoot here - great! Thanks for the money! BUT, they go back to LA or else where and NC sees no more from them. Films made here by people who live here stay here and continue to bolster the film economy of the state.”
“The infrastructure is here. More than other arts - movies are a true combination of art and commerce. To continue to grow the area, filmmakers have to know how to handle the business aspects of their productions and know how to approach investors speaking fluently the investors language.”
MFF: What other projects do you have in the works?
KH: “I'm currently producing a film I wrote called, “Shifting Gears” - a family sports comedy centered around dirt track racing - www.facebook.com/shiftinggearsmovie. We are currently in active development. We have an Emmy winning casting director on board and we are working towards a spring 2013 shoot date.”