Between Preconceived Ideas & Metaphysical Synergies
Words & Interview: Philip Lotko
Photos: Jacob John Harmer
Jacob John Harmer is a Director born and raised in England, who graduated from London College of Communication back in 2007. His storytelling blends the intimacy of documentary film with a composed cinematography amplifying the tonality of the world of which he focuses his eye on. His youth culture centered films quickly caught the attention of global superstars including A$AP Rocky, Sky Ferreira and Hailey Baldwin and generated an impressive commercial client list including Nike, Topshop, Nespresso, Sperry and RAINS. He has been featured regularly on the prestigious online art and culture portal Nowness, and has had films shown at The MFFF, AIFFF and The Bafta Accredited Aesthetica Film Festival. He now resides in the creative hub of Shoreditch, East London.
Where did your interest for film making come from?
I was obsessed with movies as a kid and would sneak into the living room late at night to watch them on T.V once my parents had gone to bed. These early 90’s science fiction, horror and action films were an extension of the fantastic tales of aliens, monsters and pirates that I used to play with my Dad and my brother. It was then that I began to see film as proof that these stories’ could have a life outside of my own vivid imagination.
Do you remember a specific or decisive moment in your career, which made you believe that you had a talent in film making?
I originally made pretty abstract stuff and it wasn’t until I embraced my provincial background and began to explore a beauty within stories closer to home that my films began to generate interest. After the success of these self-initiated counter-culture projects I started getting commercial enquiries and saw the potential to earn a living from doing what I loved. I’m not sure I would say my talent was unique, everyone has a voice, but trusting in that, for me, is everything.
Can you describe how growing up in such a rain full nation as UK has influenced your style?
Rainy days in Hastings may have subconsciously impacted my philosophical style, although the major influence has been our global conditions. The fact that something as omnipresent as the weather is such a consistent variable throughout production fascinates me. The sun reacting with my state of the art cameras to create unique lens flares, or a gust of wind catching a piece of clothing is what I find aesthetically rewarding. It’s only in the past century that we have been able to record these natural nuances through the emergence of film & video technologies and it is this connection to our atmosphere, the stars and beyond, that create a constant subtext within my narratives and continue to inspire my work.
What has been the biggest challenges for you so far?
Shooting at sea is always tough, as is recording in any area of isolated terrain, although these challenges are also part of the reasons I choose to make films. It is an adventure every time you and your crew embark on each creative journey and whilst pushing these boundaries I feel at my most perceptive. My aim is through setting my stories within such majestic environments, I can heighten and enrich both the drama on screen and the audience’s viewing experience. You never know exactly which challenges you are going to encounter and although I am a firm believer in preparation, experience has taught me to always be ready to quickly adapt and embrace whatever is thrown your way. This is where I believe the most powerful work is created, somewhere between preconceived ideas and a metaphysical synergy epitomizing the magic of the medium of film.
What are you working on now, and what does the future holds?
Primarily I would like to complete the drama which I have been working on for the past couple of years. It’s a personal story, kind of a contemporary fable that takes place in a small fishing province. It’s about a young man contorted by existential questions, which stem from knowing that he will no longer fulfill his dream of becoming a captain since the boat he was going to inherit from his father sank in mysterious circumstances. He now deckhands for his uncle alongside his reckless younger cousin who will become skipper by default when his father imminently retires. There’s a familial love between the boys, although its their conflicting sense of entitlement that I wanted to explore. That kind of banter you have as kids, with your siblings, that can threaten to erupt.
Jacob John Harmer directed and produced the video for RAINS x Sperry Topsider - The video can be viewed below.