YPDaily: Joel Harris

After graduating from Langara’s journalism program and writing for ‘The Squamish Chief’, Joel Harris got the idea to write a series of books about a journalist, called ‘A Thousand Bayonets’. After seeing great success and even receiving an Editor’s Choice award, Joel decided to move into film and produce a full length feature called ‘Neutral Territory’ in today’s YPD…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am an award-winning journalist, filmmaker and novelist. I have a feature length film called ‘Neutral Territory’ which has won seven awards, been in twenty-two festivals and was just sold to Shaw Cable as well as some international channels. It has aired on the Independent Film Channel and will be on the Mystery Channel and Bravo soon. My latest book is called ‘A Thousand Bayonets’ and is about a journalist who comes back from Afghanistan only to find a drug war brewing in his own back yard. I have just finished writing the script and am just in the process of securing financing for it.

What was the inspiration for this career route?

My main job is a writer, so I’m self-employed in that regard, although I do all my producing from the production company called Counting Ants. Counting Ants will be producing A Thousand Bayonets. We will probably attach a co-producer but details have yet to be finalized.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I love the creative aspect of writing. The solitaire time with just me and the computer. I love when I have a good day of writing because I feel so accomplished at the end of the day and I can look back and see what I’ve created.

The most challenging is all the self-promoting. It is tough to know where to spend my limited resources and how effective they actually are. It’s also not very much fun because it takes away from the creative side, but it is a necessary evil.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself retired … no not actually. I hopefully will be lucky enough to be doing the exact same thing I’m doing right now, writing novels and feature films. I also want to do a documentary, but I love what I’m doing so I wouldn’t change a thing.

What does success look like to you?
Being able to work on the projects I have passion for and not having to worry about credit card bills.  

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Definitely the highlight of my career so far was watching my movie Neutral Territory screen in an outdoor theater at Times Square in New York City. We had an audience of probably a thousand people. It was a beautiful summer day and we got so much positive feedback about the movie. It was amazing!

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Just keep at it and work hard. A strong work ethic will get you further than all the talent in the world.  

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I support several charities that have to do with training journalists in war-torn countries. The main one is Media & Democracy because I know the director, Ross Howard, personally through Langara College. Media & Democracy teaches new journalists how to report fairly and accurately in dangerous areas. I also support Megaphone because it helps the homeless make a living. It gives them a purpose in writing and distributing the Megaphone magazine.

What is Notable to you?
I believe in North America we take journalism for granted, especially in the modern world where many journalists are having a tough time making a living. Journalism is extremely important, especially now that we’re living in such a complex society. I don’t think journalism has suffered yet, but if we go along the same path, then I can’t see how we can have the great, in-depth reporting that we have seen over the years and that is very concerning.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Definitely Blackberry. I know they are struggling right now but I like to support Canadian companies when I can.