PORT TOWNSEND — When considering a location for his latest project, filmmaker Robert Harold knew that Port Townsend’s aesthetic was just right.
His drama, “Over the Course of Time,” illustrates how a location can shape a person and tell a story. The Port Townsend Golf Club serves as the set, and the talent — all senior actors from the Port Townsend area — star in the 20-minute production.
The story is part of a longer feature film, “beyond.” about a 76-year-old man and his shortwave radio, and his search for meaning in his life while struggling between his previous ambitions and the family he tainted in his pursuit.
The proof-of-concept being filmed this week is a combination of all five golf-course scenes from the feature, all taking place in one location.
“It therefore becomes much more about how a place can shape a person and tell a story,” Harold said.
His hope is that this short will lead to the full-length version. If so, he said he’d like to film it in Port Townsend as well.
Script writer and director Harold is only 17, having just finished high school. He has been writing scripts and making films and videos since he was 14.
Harold has lived with his family in Toulouse, France, since he was 3. While visiting his aunt and uncle in Port Townsend last summer, he knew the town was the perfect setting for his film.
“I was working on the outline of the feature film while visiting, and later remembered Port Townsend’s calm, green, and soothing aesthetic when location scouting for the proof-of-concept piece,” he said.
“While looking into it, I realized what a vibrant senior arts community the city has, which was perfect for my script and its characters. It is also very community-driven. The people here are generous and passionate, and the support I’ve gotten from Janette Force [executive director of the Port Townsend Film Festival] and others in town has been tremendous.”
The film is a bit of a projection of Harold’s older self.
“Balancing personal pursuits and relationships— that conflict— and how you should deal with it is what this film is about,” he said.
“It’s a projection of my own anxieties about my future as related to my priorities. When I was 14, I wrote my first script and I got good feedback from a script reader in L.A. And I got a big head. I started being absent socially and focusing totally on my pursuits. It pulled me away from a lot of my relationships. It wasn’t good for me.
“As I watched what that did to my life over the last year or two, I had an idea for a script. I developed the idea and realized it was related. This script is about someone who is 76 and is, in a more abstract way, a version of who I could become if I never fixed those negative behaviors I built up.
“Take those couple of years, spread them over a lifetime, then compress them into about three weeks and that’s the story. It has a lot of metaphoric things about me trying to find a way to express what the character is going through, which is largely what I was going through.”
Regional actors include Don White, David Wayne Johnson, Wynne Stevens, Jon Plueard, Jack O’Connor and Jim Gormly. Spencer Aston is the cinematographer.
White, who stars in the film as “Bob,” is a veteran of local theater. He’s been on stage at the Key City Theater since 1995, and has done some Readers Theater in Sequim and a production in Port Ludlow. He was previously a lawyer.
“The script is good,” White said. “For me, the best part of the filming experience is Robert Harold. I couldn’t believe he is only 17. He acts as the authority with the confidence of a 25-year old. He’s serious, very dedicated to doing an excellent job in filming the various scenes. You would never get the impression that he’s a high school kid. He’s good directing each scene. Besides the script, he’s given the actors their back story, their in-depth life.”
“I think it has potential to make a good feature film,” he said.
When filming concludes this week, Harold will be heading back to France to work on editing and then figuring out where it should be shown. He’s hoping to send it off for acceptance into film festivals in the U.S. He plans to pitch it to producers in France to gauge their interest in the feature.
He hopes that the community will see his film at next year’s Port Townsend Film Festival.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]