Chief Technology Officer Quits Job to Make Film

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Harris Demel, former Chief Technology Officer, brings his directorial debut to Kickstarter.

I quit my job in the middle of the recession to create a work of art, which is both thrilling and terrifying.

Former technology executive and self-described “Creative guy stuck in a suit,” Harris Demel, quit his job to undertake a vastly different role: Directing his first feature film, titled “Flipped,” starring Stella Maeve, Michael Madsen, and Evan Taubenfeld. Demel, who funded, produced, directed, and co-wrote the movie, stated, “I quit my job in the middle of the recession to create a work of art, which is both thrilling and terrifying.”

The psychological thriller’s premise: A famous model (Maeve), trapped inside an upside-down car, reaches a mysterious man (Madsen) on her damaged cell phone. However, roadside assistance is the last thing on the stranger's mind…

An alum of Ithaca College, Demel, who possesses a Bachelor of Arts degree with an art major, computer science minor, and audio production minor, chose to pursue his creative aspirations following the life-altering experience of his younger brother passing away. Demel noted that he chose to take on the subject of domestic abuse, as “News was coming out about celebrities in abusive relationships, and it struck me as incredibly ironic that while my brother was born with a defect, those who seemed to have it all were manufacturing their own defects.”

According to Demel, following the production phase, “We knew we had a great story. We captured brilliant acting and great cinematography, but after filming, a number of fortunate circumstances led to the decision to launch a Kickstarter campaign to maximize the production value.” The movie’s lead actress, Stella Maeve, became a series regular on CBS’s “Golden Boy.” She also landed the lead role in the CW Network’s pilot, “Company Town.” And Demel said he never thought he could attach movie icon Michael Madsen to the co-starring role, “But after reading the script, he signed on.”

Kickstarter is the world’s largest crowd-funding platform, allowing individuals worldwide to make financial pledges to projects, which are matched with rewards. Hoping to raise $50,000 for the work needed to complete the film, Demel commented, “Kickstarter is groundbreaking in that it allows people outside of the industry and across the world to be part of a virtual film crew, interactively helping to bring movies to life while boosting their quality.” Remaining work on the film includes: Music composition, sound processing, visual and sound effects, and color correction.

There was tremendous risk in keeping with the shoot schedule due to one highly unique aspect: In step with the film’s allegorical title, the actors were literally upside-down for the majority of the film’s feature length. Per Demel, “We could shoot for about a half-hour at a time, forty minutes at most, but as the day dwindled, so did the filming window as the actors became increasingly dizzy and uncomfortable. Stella had the bulk of the acting, so this is a real testament to the enormity of her talent.”

With his nearly 20 years of experience in the technology field, when asked how wearing the director’s hat differed from wearing his corporate hat, Demel responded, “In terms of parallels, there’s a hierarchy, a budget, and a project plan, but the goal vastly differs, in that you’re aiming to create a work of art. Measuring success in the business world is putting metrics against tangibles, but art’s purpose is to affect emotion, which is intangible. The best measurement is whether people are touched in the way the artist had originally intended.”

The Kickstarter campaign for Flipped ends on June 8, 2013. The movie trailer and further details can be found at:


For further information, please contact John Taborosi/Retz Advertising + Design at jtaborosi(at)retzad(dot)com or (315) 263-7485.

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