A Decade of Following A Dream

Wow, so the beginning of a new year is upon us which usually calls for reflection anyway, but I'm coming up on another milestone also...
10 years of living in Los Angeles.

On January 9th of 2008 my dad and I flew to LA and in the days following I began a semester long film program called the Los Angeles Film Studies Center. 

Since then basically a third of my life has happened, right? I thought I'd make a list of some memorable moments, in sort of chronological order...

- Directing a short film featuring Justin Grant Wade aka Steve Holt! from Arrested Development
- Background acting (aka being an extra) on shows like House and Criminal Minds and (the newer versions of) 90210 and Melrose Place, rubbing elbows with Nick Kroll and Dave Franco and Jerry O'Connell. One time when I was an extra Jesse Tyler Ferguson strolled up and said I looked familiar then we had a nice chat!
- Writing a handful of direct-to-DVD movies with religious themes and African American casts (anyone see Nora's Hair Salon 3: Shear Disaster?!)
- Stumbling into a career in producing reality TV, starting at the (very, very) bottom
- Working on over 100 episodes of A&E's Intervention
- GETTING MARRIED!!
- Caring for my first dog
- Meeting and writing for Orlando Brown and Chingy and other people of note! One time Orlando took me to Chili's in Northridge to discuss a sitcom pilot we wrote together. Another time I was introduced to Jamie Foxx and he was not impressed...
- Pitching to Funny Or Die, taking sketch comedy class at UCB, guesting on podcasts and YouTube shows
- Having our first son!! Being a stay at home dad during the day and working at night
- Telling Shane West that I'm a big fan, running into Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller at The Grove right before seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall
- Seeing awesome comedy at UCB with Ash: Judd Apatow, Jonah Hill, Aziz, Dragon Boy Suede, Brett Gelman, Reggie Watts, Charlyne Yi, The Birthday Boys, Paul Rust and Neil Campbell, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin, John Ross Bowie, etc, etc
- Steadily working for 10 years in the field that I studied in high school and college without having to take a non-industry side job ever
- Producing sketch comedy videos that got featured on the front page of Funny Or Die
- Writing a feature length movie that was shot in Tokyo
- Writing two YA novels, the first of which getting optioned to be developed into a movie or tv show
- Having our second son!! 
- Making new friends and keeping the ones that mean the most

I don't know what the future holds. I'm still writing constantly. Book 3 is in the works. I have sitcom specs and feature scripts and all kinds of stuff I want to get made. 

So here's to 10 more years in LA?

#Pete30Before30 Wrap Up: Part 3

A few more of these, two days before my birthday. Scanning what is to come I see that I failed on a few of these, ugh.

14)    Have Some Class
I’m going to take a class in something I don’t know about: parkour, basket weaving, candlemaking?!  No, but something cool.

Since Ash and I had our second child during my 29th year we took a childbirth class with a doula as a refresher but I certainly learned new things. It was empowering and it led to an awesome birth experience (you can read our birth story here). And it's not like I'm taking a class in producing my audiobook right now but I am learning a ton as I'm doing it.

15)    It’s Time for the Percolator
I don’t know how to make coffee.  That, paired with not knowing how to work a multi-line phone is what made me a terrible production assistant, glad I’m (fingers crossed) past that stage in my career.  But I’m still going to learn how to make coffee.  Maybe I can take a coffee making class and kill two birds with one stone.

So I didn't learn how to make coffee BUT I learned that I am an iced coffee man. I would like to make my own cold brew at some point, but I haven't yet. This is sort of a fail but I definitely have enjoyed searching for the best cups of iced coffee, cold brews, etc.

16)    En-capsule-lating Our Lives
I can’t remember if I’ve ever done a time capsule, which means it wasn’t memorable if I have, but I know Christian hasn’t done one.  So we’re going to do one, or maybe a couple so we can bury them at his grandparents’ houses and dig them up in the future and laugh at how we used to have cell phones instead of the brain implants we’re all assigned at birth.
17)    Guilding the Petey
I’m going to join the Producer’s Guild solely for the end of the year screeners.  I mean, health care options, awesome panels, and such will be an added bonus, but yeah, just for the screeners.
18)    Be Preachy
I was asked to potentially officiate the wedding of a friend, I’m going to get ordained!  I’m not sure what this entails, I even had to Google ‘the guy at the wedding who says the stuff’ to even see that the correct word was officiate, so this is going to be a long process.

I did not do ANY of those three, and I have excuses, sort of. There's no excuse for the time capsule one, I should have done that but as far as the Producer's Guild we were saving money this year for when the baby came so I didn't feel like spending the money and time to join, but I do still want to do that. I also didn't get ordained because no one asked me to marry them, so I didn't have to, the jury is still out if I'll ever have to do that one.

19)    Fading In and Out
Going back to a similar theme as the seeing the classic movies goal, I’m a screenwriter and I seldom read screenplays, so I’m going to read (at least) 30 of them.  I’m in love with writing so I should check out what my peers and heroes are doing on their pages as well.

I didn't get to 30 screenplays, but this was an awesome one. Super educational and very fun. I hope the movies I read turn out being as good as the ones I imagined while reading them. The only movie that I've seen that I read the screenplay for through this was The Cabin In The Woods and man that was an enjoyable read.

20)    Cyberspace-lift
My website, www.PeterLHarmon.com (#Pete30Before30) needs to be redone (and it already sort of has, still some tweaks though.)

I actually fully did this! I have more ideas for the site too! A "Book Buzz" page where I have reviews and such, more blogs posts, etc etc. Stay tuned!

21)    Lose Weight
No, not like that!  Every time I travel with the fam we’re in the airport stressed, our bags are too heavy, it’s a whole ordeal that makes me hate traveling.  So I’m going to practice traveling light.  Maybe I can go on a trip with just a backpack full of essential clothing, we’ll see.

I didn't do too much traveling this year but when I did I tried this, especially during my quick trip to Maryland. However, now that we have two kids and a dog, I'm dreading our next flight... 

22)    Get Jumped
Thankfully I’ve never had to know how to jump start a car, but I’m going to learn now, it’s important probably.

OK, this is going to sound bad because I didn't do this one either (lay off alright, we have two kids!) BUT my car didn't start once this past year and I found out how to get quick service that's covered by my warranty and a guy comes with a battery box thing and starts the car in two seconds, so why risk me doing something wrong and blowing up my car when I can get the guy to come do it for free? That sounds smarter to me (but I know I sound like the worst...)

Let's go out on a high note tonight: 23)    Smile Like I Mean It
Because I had a cleft lip I’ve had difficult teeth that have required a lot of maintenance, and I kept up with it pretty well.  But over the past couple of years I stopped going to the dentist regularly because I work so much that I didn’t want to take off to go, and then I finally went earlier in the year and I had some work to do.  So, from now on I’m going to take care of this group of friends in my mouth that I call a smile.

I did this! Thank God for dental insurance, I put some money where my mouth is. AND I floss and brush twice a day and now I use mouthwash and I wear TWO retainers at night. I did the heck out of this one.

Phew, more coming soon!


Shooting the Book Trailer

Last weekend I shot a book trailer for The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last.  

First and foremost, big, big thank yous to Rick Bickerstaff, Jason Marsh, and Marc Femenella for helping me with this project.

I work a minimum of 10 hours a day, plus (not to sound like "The Californians" but) I live in the valley and my office is in Santa Monica so that adds a bit of a commute on either end of that.  And I ordered some awesome lifeguard shorts for the shoot that hadn't come yet (and still haven't by the way).  So Friday night came around and there were still miles to go before I slept.  I stopped at Smart & Final on my way home from work to get snack bar-esque supplies.  Then I ran by Target to get replacement red shorts to stand in for the waylaid pair.

Finally I got home and it was time to cook.  

I cooked late-ish into the night.

I was the Walter White of fried foods.

I dipped into my own supply though...

Here were just a few of the props:

The next morning I rose early and drove down to the wonderful Redondo Beach.  Rick and his family were very generous with their time, their home, and their baby who is a delight.  The location was great for what I needed to shoot.

Jason brought some badass equipment and his bad self.  

And basically the shoot was a few bros bro-ing down by the pool.  

Beautiful weather, good food, great footage shot.

And I even got in front of the camera for a little thing that I'm excited to see how it turned out...

This weekend or next Marc will be cutting a couple things together and I'll release them as my book's release date approaches.

So far so many people have helped in making this dream come true, I appreciate it.

A day in the life

My morning commute to work currently takes so long that the weather changes dramatically from the time I doop-doop open my car door to when I roll down my window to scan my parking card.  I'm talking maybe thirty degrees.  And I only live a baker's dozen miles from the office where I currently work.  But that's the deal.

Some days as I'm crawling up the hill, like if Sisyphus had to take the 405 to work too, I hope that I'm living my origin story, my Act One, where the average guy is doing the mundane stuff that should really only last for a couple pages at the top and then some inciting incident grabs him out of his routine and thrusts him into the meat of his movie.  I'm hoping Happenstances is that thing.

Then I get to work and I get to make television, and meet awesome, creative people.  The drive home is not so bad, especially due to the daylight savior who bequeathed us with another hour of sunlight, so even though I still miss the sun setting, the night has not completely muscled the day aside and the sky is a pretty shade of, as Jack's Mannequin might say: dark blue.  When I get home to my wife and my son and my pug my life is extraordinary, #blessed.  

Then at night, after Christian has heard once again what was on the menu for that particularly hungry caterpillar, when Summer is snoring somewhere, and Ashlea is sipping tea on the couch, watching one hour dramas about vampires or teens or vampire teens, the laptop is cracked open.

Busy Pete is a Better Writer

As I was riding my bike last night, pondering, I had some thoughts that I clumsily told my wife when I got home.  I thought I'd try here though, to clearly state something that I think is important.

There's a way of thinking, and I don't want to call it a "common misconception" because maybe it is the truth for some, that you can/should put your family life on hold while you move up in your career.  Or someone who had a child or got married young may look back at their life and think that they could have been so much more successful if they had only not had that kid or married that person.

I admit that I've had the latter thought before at times, like where could I be if I was 'Single Pete'.  But last night I realized that I was wrong.

I got married to Ash at 23 and we had Christian when I was 25, so we weren't babies having babies, but we were relatively young for my peer group.  And I've thought in the past that if I didn't have the responsibilities of being a husband, dad, co-money-provider/ co-bill-payer, that I could have more time to write, more chances to network, more time to produce sketch comedy videos and take UCB classes and such.  Which is true, sure, but...

Having less time to devote to writing has made me a better writer.  'Single Pete' would have the luxury of being able to dawdle, write a couple pages here and there. 'Busy Pete', I'll refer to my current self as, has to be laser-focused every writing session.  Before my writing sessions were watered down lemonade, today they're frozen concentrate.  Take those babies out of the freezer, add water (or booze) and start cranking.

But besides that, the support that Ash has given me has been the single most propelling thing in my writing life.  She's read all my stuff.  She's my biggest cheerleader.  She's believed in me when I haven't.  I wouldn't be about to have Happenstances published without her.

In my life, being married young-ish and growing with Ash has been the best thing.  And Christian is a constant source of joy, and often times hilarious anecdotes.

So, thanks Ash and Christian.  

Love, Pete