An Interview with Harrison J. Bahe, owner of Navajo Joe Films
Among the many short independent films out there I find those made by Navajo Films hugely inspiring- so it was a pleasure to talk to the man behind the name, Harrison J. Bahe.

• You’ve been making great-looking films for over ten years now. What made you want to start making movies in the first place?
> When I was young, my parents took me to see the movie Twister. I wanted to become a tornado chaser afterward. My parents then took me to see the movie Dante’s Peak. I wanted to become a volcanologist afterward. Then, my parents took me to see a movie called From Dusk Till Dawn. I realized that all these movies were inspiring me to become all these professions, so I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker right then and there. I always get a kick from telling this story because I find it amusing when people find out I became a filmmaker because of a movie about Mexican vampire strippers.

• Can you name three key influences/inspirations for your filmmaking?
> The early filmmaking styles of Robert Rodriguez and Peter Jackson heavily influenced my work. It’s why I find myself directing, writing, shooting, and editing all of my own works. The third key influence would probably have to be my love of film scores; specifically music by composers Brian Tyler, Michael Giacchino, Trevor Rabin, and Hans Zimmer. Listening to their music helped form the images in my head that would later transform into a handful of short films you see today in my filmography.

• What camera and editing platform do you use for your projects?
> As of 2017, I currently use a Canon 6D for shooting and Premiere Pro for editing.

• The cast of your films always look very photogenic- but how easy is it to find actors for your films?
> In the early days, I always used friends who were available at the time of filming. Friends would literally be hanging out at my house and they’d suddenly find themselves in front of my camera for a new project. It was all very on-the-fly back in the early days. Nowadays, I dabble more in photography along with filmmaking. So, I network through that line of work with equally creative people who share a love of filmmaking. I’ve been fortunate enough to find myself surrounded by likeminded people who became my best friends in the process. There’s nothing like bonding on a film set!

• What’s important to you in terms of making movies?
> Having fun. That’s really the one thing I find important on my sets. Having fun with the project you’re on, even if it’s a serious drama. If you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, then what’s the point?

• You self-fund. How do you prioritise where limited funds go?
> First and foremost, my actors get paid. Everything after that is dealt with as they arrive. If we need food, we go get food. If we need some bit of wardrobe, we go get that wardrobe. I budget when I can but I honestly take things as they come. It hasn’t failed me yet.

• It’s an old question for creative people, but when you make a film- how do you know if it’s any good?
> I don’t know if it’s good to be honest. It’s only until it’s released when I find out if people hate it or love it. Either or, that sense of accomplishment is all I need. The point is that I love it, and if others don’t, well that’s alright too.

• How important are film festivals to you in validating what you do?
> They’re not really that important to me actually. I’ve submitted before, sure. But I just don’t see a point to pay someone to judge your film and give you a nice shiny trophy.

• Your YouTube channel has a lot of subscribers, and some of your films/videos particularly have a huge amount of views and interaction. What do you put that down to?
> The content. Definitely the content. Our most viewed short films revolve around themes of suicide, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and the LGBT community. I’ve often joked that we should create a short film about a gay wizard who falls in love with a suicidal Jedi. Who knows how many views that would get.

• Tell us about your new film ‘Lust’.
> Lust is my newest short film and it’s actually kind of special to me in the fact that it’s the first film in three years I have written, produced, shot, and edited myself! Other projects within that three year span were other peoples’ projects, music videos, travel videos, and experimental films. So, Lust marks a nice return to filmmaking for me! Lust is about a delivery boy who develops an innocent crush on one of his routes that devolves into unnatural obsession that ends in tragedy. It will be premiering and streaming on August 25th and it’s my longest film to date coming in at 30 minutes long!

• I’ve always felt that audiences in the US are more open-minded and more willing to experience non-mainstream work...can you comment on that?
> I wholly believe that! I’ve even found myself walking into independently owned theaters and watching indie gems. It may be a small crowd that sees these movies but it’s definitely there.

• What lies ahead for Navajo Joe Films?
> Navajo Joe Films is going through a renaissance so to speak. Over four different projects are currently in development spanning across the final months of 2017! The first project we are shooting in September is actually a remake of one of my older films called the Entity. The other three are under wraps for the time being and will be revealed once the Entity is complete. But it’s looking like the beginning of a beautiful new era for all of us at NJF and I can’t wait to show you guys what we got up our sleeves. Especially with Lust!

Many thanks to Harrison J. Bahe for his time in answering my questions so fully.

Watch Lust (rated 18)

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