Talk of Broadway and the big screen took on a new reality for upper school Conservatory students following a recent “Life in the Arts” workshop with guest speaker Gary King ‘87.
This past spring King, an award-winning filmmaker and director, returned to Harker to discuss his unique road to show business with the aspiring performing arts students. He also gave a behind-the-scenes look at his new hit indie film, “How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song?”
Accompanying him was Broadway and film actress Christina Rose, who plays the lead role in his movie, which was released earlier this year and has received awards at venues such as the Raindance and Phoenix film festivals. King and Rose showed a trailer of the movie and spoke candidly about their experiences working in today’s rapidly changing entertainment industry.
Many of the students found it hard to believe that King, who serves as the director, writer and producer of his films, never studied acting at Harker … or anywhere.
“I didn’t study performing arts at Harker, nor did I go to film school in college. I received a master’s in psychology way back in the day. I’m self-taught when it comes to filmmaking,” said King, who was reached for comment following his Harker visit.
Although he had loved cinema from a young age, King never thought to make a career out of it until after spending a few unfulfilling years working in the field of human resources. He was thus very impressed to see how driven and focused Harker’s performing arts students are already.
“Talking with the students was exciting as it was amazing, to see how talented and eager they are to learn and grow within their areas of interest. They surely are taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities Harker offers to them,” he said.
He recalled how Harker gave him a well-rounded education, taught him responsibility and prepared him for the future by giving him the tools to succeed. “It definitely made a difference in my life,” affirmed King, whose work is best known for delivering powerful performances with an emphasis on a strong, visual style.
Despite a late start to filmmaking, King has written, directed and produced several critically-acclaimed feature films, and Rose, who has acted on Broadway as well as in television and movies, has worked with King on previous projects.
Because King and Rose are professionals in the current entertainment industry they were able to answer many questions that Harker students had about making it in the business. The duo advised workshop attendees to expect setbacks, but not become defeated by them.
At the conclusion of the event, the performing arts students were happily surprised when DVDs and soundtracks of King’s film were handed out, along with two tickets to watch the movie at a local theater.
“Coming back to Harker was a complete shock,” mused King, who couldn’t believe how much everything had changed. “The one thing I’m glad that has remained the same is seeing the faculty’s passion for the school and their students,” he said.