We had the good fortune of connecting with kimman harmon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi kimman, why did you pursue a creative career?
I didn’t so much choose an artistic or creative career; rather it chose me. I never had a vision of what I wanted to do when I “grew up” (other than to be an Olympic ski racer and by high school it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen). In high school, I had some amazing teachers. My Communications teacher was so creative and I loved his class. We made films (mind you this was the ’70’s so that was no easy task). I preferred to be behind the lens operating the camera, like my dad did. My English Literature teacher was inspiring as well. She made me appreciate great story telling. As a kid I was always interested in making things (oh to be a kid now; 3D printers! Making robots!) I worked in my dad’s wood working space making whatever I could think of. When it came to home movies, we never edited anything but I always enjoyed threading the film into the sprockets and operating the projector. But I never had a passion to be something. Like most of the kids in my high school I went to college (it was a college prep high school). I decided to major in Cultural Anthropology. Being around my mom who was heavily involved in Girl Scouts (and therefore so was I), made me aware of different cultures. As a Senior scout I met girls from all over the country and the world during a Wider Opportunity, which opened my world view. It was in one of my cultural anthropology classes that I was exposed to Margaret Mead, an anthropologist that made documentaries about the cultures she was studying. That made a lightbulb go off for me and so I dropped anthropology and got involved in the film program. I was a visual/kinesthetic learner and film was the perfect medium for me to communicate to others. I still had a strong interest in sports (I was on a track scholarship in college) so I took classes in Kinesiology, Physiology, Anatomy, Food Science and Nutrition, and Physics of Human Motion. When I needed to have an internship, I was able to get one with a film company called Sports, Films and Talents. It was a perfect marriage of my athletic and creative “passions”. I found working behind the camera blended my need to be physical with my need to be creative. Although my career took me in many different directions (always within the film world though) from that internship (which became my first job after college), the same things held true for me; physical and creative energy. And they still hold true today.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The thing I love most about what I do is using light to tell the story. My early days in the business were mostly concerned with learning shooting and editing (film). As I moved through my career I gained valuable tips about shaping light from those I worked with who had more experience. But like most things, until you do it yourself, you don’t quite understand it. About eight years into my career I took a step back and became a camera assistant so I could be around more seasoned cinematographers. On the set of feature films I was able to watch and learn from some great DP’s. One of my favorite is Peter Deming ASC. He had the ability to light a scene yet not make it look lit. That is still something to this day that I am working on. But it gave me the confidence in my own lighting abilities. Which is very valuable in these times of “One-man band” shoots and documentary shoots where there isn’t a budget for a gaffer. After my time on Features I decided to focus on lighting but still be a shooter. I gave up editing (but ever so thankful for those skills). My career since has been full of wonderful opportunities to use my skills to bring someone else’s ideas to life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When my best friend(s) come to town, there is always a hike planned on the trails near my house. And for shock value, I take them swimming in the middle of winter in my favorite outdoor pool (heated of course). Nothing is more magical than to be swimming outside while there is snow on the ground! In my mind the best place to eat, drink and be merry is at my house. But there are some great restaurants here (but some of my favorites are gone now due to Covid). For a neighborhood feel I take them to Under the Sun and then go shopping at Neptune Mountaineering. For a tourist type feel I take them downtown to Pearl Street and look at art shops and of course Peppercorn for all things cooking related.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I think I’d have to dedicate my Shoutout to my high school communications teacher, Mr. Messina, for showing me the possibilities. As well as all the people I have worked with over the years who believed in me and gave me opportunities. Like Mike Schrader, Kerry Roy, Margaret Flynn, Madeleine Pollok, Kathleen Ermitage and Michael Badertscher to name a few.
Mike Schrader Michael Badertscher