Writer/Director Corey Pearson has crafted something of an anomaly for the Australian film industry. He’s managed to create a superb new, original fantasy film, that showcases a great ensemble cast featuring Jerome Meyer (Joe Cinque’s Consolation), Eamon Farren (Twin Peaks), Jacqueline McKenzie (Angel Baby), and the final performance from Jessica Falkholt (Home and Away).
As the start of a new fantasy saga, Harmony is one with a lot of promise, featuring a narrative that looks at characters who are almost like superhero empaths – people who are able to manipulate emotions by either taking things away from people, or by making their lives a little easier by giving them things. It’s an interesting premise that will make for an exciting narrative to follow as the series progresses.
The Curb was able to ask actor Jerome Meyer about his work in Harmony, while also touching on the difference between this performance and his previous work in the great, underseen drama Joe Cinque’s Consolation.
Q: What was it like working with Corey Pearson and being part of an original fantasy like Harmony?
The most enjoyable element of working with Corey was the amount of creative freedom I had. I really was able to take Mason as far as I possibly could, improv lines and bring ideas to the character that weren’t necessarily on the page – which can be pretty rare in low budget films – normally due to the tight shooting schedule you pretty much have hit your mark and get it done in as few takes as possible. I think the fantasy element of the film allowed me to take this even further as I didn’t have to worry so much about the realm of reality once Mason was experiencing this surge of emotional experience after being unlocked by Harmony – every experience and emotion is new to him so there were very few rules as to how it would look or feel to be effected that way – I just really let myself take it as far as I possibly could – it was a relatively liberating acting experience.
Q: Going from Joe Cinque’s Consolation to Harmony is quite a change, what challenges arose from working in two very different films?
Well of course Joe was a real guy, so the process of getting in to character was a lot more about reading and researching anything I could get my hands on that gave me a clue to who Joe was – it was detective work. Mason however felt more like being a painter or a poet – I could ask the question ‘who do I want Mason to be?’ and then just open myself to the world and see what presented itself – I had a journal full of sketches, scribbles and wonderings about what life would be like for a guy without fear.
Q: What’s the best memory of working with Jessica Falkholt?
Jess and I knew each other from before the filming so it was just so important to have someone there whom I knew and loved. Indie films can be hard work sometimes because you are doing long hours with very few of the creature comforts that the big A list guys get set up with -Whenever it got a bit ridiculous Jess and I used to make fun of the whole situation together between scenes. I think a little of that energy showed up in the film. I am grateful to be able to remember that.
Q: What kind of research and planning did you do to create Mason?
For me with these kind of roles it’s always about finding the essence of a character and then spending a lot of time thinking and writing about how they would live in the world- also going out by myself and practicing responding to my environment like Mason would. The key idea was that he was totally closed to the world before meeting Harmony – I personally believe you cannot selectively numb and if he wasn’t feeling the intense negative emotions like fear and depression, I couldn’t imagine him feeling the intense positives either – how do you personally understand wellness if when you haven’t felt sick? So in the first half the it was almost like a meditation – you stay present and respond from a calm, empty place – no subtext, no baggage or backstory – just input and pure response. This of course meant that after meeting Harmony I could play with what it would be like to get totally caught up in each feeling for the very first time – good and bad – he could be a teenager, a child and a alpha male all at the same time because he was just suddenly being flooded by all these new responses to stimulus.
Q: I understand your mother was a bit distraught over your role in Joe Cinque’s Consolation, how was her reaction to Mason in Harmony?
I think mum is going to love anything I do even when the content is difficult but she does get so invested in the characters I play it’s always a gentler experience for her if my characters go through a struggle but ultimately come out on top – this film however also had the added difficulty of her knowing how much I was struggling with seeing Jess on screen – so I’m sure it was as complex an experience for her as it was for me.