We had the good fortune of connecting with Rudy Harlan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rudy, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
The end goal of my career (and dare I say, my life) is to ultimately tell stories. I understand that is a very basic answer to every filmmaker/writer/artist. However, my goal has always been to bridge myself to an audience. I want to showcase stories and characters that audiences can relate to. In my opinion, that is the gift of art. Expression through a visual medium can reach an array of people as well as their sentiments. Tapping into those human sentiments with art is what I have always wanted to do. I continue to do so, by any means necessary.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I pride myself on having humanity and/or purpose in my work. I am much more about the steak rather than the sizzle. I try to have enormous amounts of substance within the scripts I write, the designs I conceptualize, and the films I direct. It has been twelve years since I have taken this road and it has not been easy. This path has been riddled with professional rejection, financial instability, and heartbreak. However, I have always counterbalanced that with constructive resiliency, thoughtful budgeting, and hope. Every ordeal, good or bad, keeps me going. These occurrences are fuel for my drive and storytelling. I have always said, “You become a sum of your influences. The only difference is how you funnel them through your own voice and life experiences.” I am an amalgamation of resiliency, humility, and integrity. I feel that every artist should keep those three elements close to the chest. Certainly, I am not the only struggling artist out there. I am, however, one of the artists that refuse to surrender. I have learned that I am not alone and cannot do this alone. There is a sea of collaborative artists out there that are my brothers, sisters, cousins, and extended family. They are the family that I understand, relate to, and collaborate with. This is a career of people much more so than a career of a person.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I admit it, I am a nerd to the core. I have zero shame in that. Many of the places I enjoy visiting are comic book stores. I usually visit Blast From The Past in Burbank and bring along friends, pre-pandemic days. While nostalgia overloads my company, comic book stores usually spark my creativity when I am around material that influenced my art, storytelling, and morals. As crazy as it sounds, I feel like I learned more from Spider-Man, X-Men, and Bat-Man than any politician when it comes to being human. Another place I enjoy visiting while having company is the Santa Monica Pier. That tourist attraction truly encompasses old-school California and vintage fun. Ferris wheels, rumbling rollercoasters, and the sweet smell of cotton candy engulf the Pier. It all culminates in a time-capsule experience that resonates with anyone.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So much support has come from my makeshift family, friends, and professors. The path I walk has been paved by an array of people. It stretches from my aunts back in Brownsville, Texas to my undergrad professors at the University of Texas-Pan American to all the friends I have cherished along the way and my graduate professors from the University of Southern California. The principal shout-out goes out to my uncle, Edmundo Salas, who passed away in 2006. I must thank him for leaving his record, movie, and comic book collection open for me to rodently scavenge through. He let this agitated kid find serenity in art. His memory kept me out of prison, the gutter, and an early tomb. He set me on the right path of this yellow brick road. I am still working towards meeting the Wizard.
All image credits: Rodolfo ‘Rudy’ Salas