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Home Interviews Harrison Houde on directing and producing Stories of Kindness – Exclusive Interview

Harrison Houde on directing and producing Stories of Kindness – Exclusive Interview

by Conor O'Brien
Harrison Houde

You may recognise Harrison Houde from his childhood role as Darren Walsh (aka the ‘Cheese Touch’ kid) in Diary Of A Wimpy Kid. He chatted with us about his new interview series, Stories of Kindness.

Having began his acting career in 2008, Harrison is also known for his role as Bowie in the teen sitcom Some Assembly Required.

Harrison has appeared in episodes of Rogue and iZombie, as well as maintaining successful YouTube and Tik Tok accounts.

Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to do this.

Harrison Houde (HH): Hey, thank you for having me here today.

Fans of your work may know you as the characters you have played. How would you describe the real Harrison Houde? What inspired you to pursue a creative career?

HH: Well, I got into acting when I was younger by making YouTube videos. I guess I started as an actor by creating my own stuff, creating videos, editing them, throwing them up on YouTube and doing that. So, I was just having fun making comedy videos. I have always played music my whole life, so that ended up being music parodies, music videos and funny original little songs that I’d make. So, that creation process led me into acting and I’ve always been passionate about creating stuff – directing, editing or producing my own content.

We’re here to chat about your new interview series, Stories of Kindness. How would you describe the concept and background, for anyone who is unfamiliar?

HH: Stories of Kindness is a new show, it’s by the WITS Programs Foundation, which is based in Victoria on Vancouver Island, where I grew up. Andy Telfer from the WITS Programs contacted me and was like, “We’re gonna have this show idea, can you help us make it?” How can I say no to making a show about kindness and spreading positivity to everybody’s day? Connecting kids right now during the pandemic, during these difficult times where you’re isolated at home. A lot of kids can’t go to school, see friends or hang out. They’re at home alone, on social media and stuff.

We just wanted to create a show that gives them an opportunity to talk somebody that maybe they would never talk to before, but in a really positive and kind way. Inspirational, motivational way. Just connect people together and have these stories or storytelling, [as well as] conversations with kids and celebrity guests we brought in.

From a creative standpoint, how would you describe your objective with Stories of Kindness?

HH: The objective is pretty simple and wholesome. It was just about the kids at the end of the day, in my opinion. Let’s give these kids something fun to do, something to think about and something where they can learn and share kindness. The objective, at the end of the day, is to show people across the country that it’s easy to still get involved. It’s still easy to spread some kindness, even though it might be difficult, especially right now, staying at home. You get frustrated quite easily.

We wanted to show that, “Hey, look. There’s a lot of opportunity, it’s just about reaching out.” Or, “There’s a lot of opportunities to have a conversation with somebody, learn something new and to take that into your personal life even going forward after the pandemic. Being interested in other people. Doing small things can really impact someone’s day, week, year, or life, you know?

Addressing the obvious, how did the COVID-19 pandemic affect how Stories of Kindness was produced?

HH: That was something that I was really fascinated in as well when I was approached to do the show. I was like, “Well, there’s all these restrictions, let’s a lot of COVID protocols. I’ve been staying at home all this time on my own. This gives me something to do that’s safe, making a positive impact right now that’s not spreading COVID, or catching it.” I was doing my part while making the show as well, this is a great opportunity.

So yeah, making the show, we did it remotely. I was on a beach in Hawaii for three months, remotely producing the show. Not around anybody, I have no friends in Hawaii. I was there just doing my thing, doing this show and writing it with my friend remotely on Zoom. Talking with Andy and the WITS Program about it. Also, we had Travis in Nova Scotia, where there was very few cases of COVID. They had some restrictions, but they had a very small crew. We had two or three people shoot them wearing masks, doing all the protocols that need to be done. Same thing in Victoria, we had a very small team there.

And then, everything with our kid co-hosts, the submissions, they were just that. They were submitted, made on their own, or we did our Zoom interviews, like we’re doing right now. It’s completely safe, you’re at home on your computer. At least I’d give them something to look forward to, something to prepare for and just something to work on. Like, interviewing somebody. That’s what it was, we all came together to make this project. This project maybe wouldnt’ve have existed before COVID, so that’s a unique and cool thing to put together, right?

You’re known as an actor (Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Some Assembly Required) and serve as producer/director for Stories of Kindness. Do you have a preference for any of these jobs?

HH: Yeah, so I jumped in and did one interview last minute, because of some scheduling stuff that didn’t work out. Other than that, I was behind the camera, directing this one, producing, show creating and writing it with Andy and Dakota, my writing partner. Travis [Price] was involved at the beginning as well with the development and booking of some of the guests. It was a team effort and I just managed the team, made sure that everything came together. It was super fun and a different challenge for me, because of the remote aspect of it.

I was like, I’d love to figure this out. My future goals with directing-producing are making things in LA and Vancouver, having teams of people that I like working with in both of these cities. If there was some way to connect that in the future and remotely… it’s just a good skill set to have, I think, going forward.

I love both, I really love both. I really want to direct my first feature coming up, it’s based about my home town, Qualicum Beach. That’s my goal right now, my big goal is to direct that feature, it’s a coming of age comedy. I did write myself a part in it, so I’m employing myself, but we’ll see what happens. You know how these things go, the whole process of creating something on that large of a scale as well. It happens. Yeah, I want to still act and do more comedy stuff in the future as well. I just love comedy, it’s fun.

To what extent, if any, has your recognisability as an actor benefited the work being done by Stories of Kindness?

HH: My experiences as an actor and my skill set there has helped me. I already had relationships with some of the celebrity guests I booked in. It was easy to hit them up… like Dylan [Playfair], I worked with for three years on Some Assembly. “Hey, Dylan, can you come and do this show?” “Yeah, of course.” I asked my manager or my agent in Vancouver. I said, “Hey, who can we get on the show that’s like a big name right now?” We ended up with like Sarah Levy, or whatever.

Things like that are easier to facilitate or easier to pull together because people know me. Or, I know them and we worked together or we see each other at events. My work as an actor definitely makes producing a little bit easier.

In terms of anyone who is watching or engaging with Stories of Kindness, what would you want them to take away from the experience?

HH: So, the show is geared towards kids but I really truly believe that anyone can watch this show and take the message. It’s simply just spreading kindness. It’s hard to always consciously be like… I just want to be kind. There’s these moments that come up in your life where you have the opportunity to be kind to somebody, or go out of your way for somebody. Or, take an opportunity that can really help somebody. I think that’s the take away from the show, take those moments of opportunity to be kind, go out of your way for or mentor somebody. There’s just so many things like that that come up in your life. I think I just want to encourage people to jump on that.

That’s for kids, parents and anybody who can watch the show. I think that’s the take away, right?

Where can people find Stories of Kindness when it is released?

HH: The first episode is Saturday, March 27th, at 10am Pacific. You’ll be able to find all the episodes at StoriesOfKindness.CA.

For anyone who wants to keep up with your work/you personally on social media, where can they look?

HH: Most of my social media is my name, Harrison Houde. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I’m always posting about what I’m up to and if you’re curious about what I’m working on, you can always shoot me an email, tweet or Instagram message. I usually respond to people, so, yeah.

Now that we’re a few months in, what do you hope to accomplish with the rest of 2021?

HH: That comedy feature, we’re pitching it. I would love to do that in the next year, coming up. I also have a short film that I’m going to be creating, we just got a little funding for it. That’s really exciting, it’s a half-English, half-Japanese action drama film. Basically, I’m pitching it as Fast and Furious on motorcycles with a young female protagonist, so that’s really fun to me. I’m excited for that. And then, something else I want to work on… I actually have a thriller movie that I wrote two years ago and rewriting it. It would be super fun to get that going.

I have a lot of different projects going, music stuff, I’m always staying busy. Whenever one of them lands and they say, “Let’s do it”. Then, let’s do it, right?

I would love to do more Stories of Kindness as well. I hope we can take the first six webisodes and turn it into a full series. Turn it into an ongoing web series. I just think there’s a lot more we can do with Stories of Kindness and I’m really excited to see where this takes us over the next year as well. That there can be more Stories of Kindness.

Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us. Take care and stay safe!

HH: I appreciate it Conor, thank you.

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