Scott Harris Brings 'Being Ginger' to Texas
Three months short of graduating from the University of Edinburgh, The University of Texas at Austin film alumnus Scott P. Harris couldn't find the right subject for a movie. But the color of Harris's hair came up continuously when discussing the theme of his final project with friends three years ago. The former Dallasite said redheads in Scotland have a really hard time because they take the brunt of numerous jokes, like the one that says each freckle on a ginger's face denotes a soul they have stolen.
Harris was cautious of making Being Ginger because he didn't want people to think he was just complaining or whining about the color of his hair, but as he began documenting his experiences as a redhead in 2011 it became therapeutic and a way to exercise past demons.
Jokes and taunts from bystanders, and a rant from a blonde woman about why she wouldn't date a ginger, are captured onscreen. And Harris himself discusses his own personal biases against redheads that may stem from classroom childhood experiences where fellow students would repeatedly tell him that they hated him based on the color of his hair.
The personal documentary finds Harris pursuing romance from street corners under the pretense of making a movie and a shady ginger dating website. Storytelling is Harris's forte and he said the best stories involve him and women.
"Nothing makes me happier than telling a stranger those stories," he said. Operative word: Stranger. Harris was nervous about his parents seeing the movie, or any of his work, for the first time at a Dallas screening last week because of his onscreen extreme personal honesty, he said.
Being Ginger -- available now on digital download -- is dedicated to his dad, originally from Scotland and a (former) fellow redhead. Harris said his brother and sister are also redheads, as well as some of his nephews and nieces.
"The gene is strong in my family," he said.
Harris's friend from UT, on the other hand, can't get past the first five minutes of the movie, which shows Harris making the moves on a blonde woman, because he watched Harris in similar (uncomfortable) situations for two years.
After living in Scotland for four years, Harris, who did screen the first 20 minutes of Being Ginger as his graduation final at the University of Edinburgh, returned to Texas to self-promote the movie in November.
Rejection, this time maybe not necessarily because of the color of Harris's hair, came in the form of television broadcasters and festival organizers, who wouldn't screen Being Ginger.
"I know it's a good film," he said, adding that he's never been prouder.
Blondes and brunettes can also appreciate Being Ginger and its universal theme of self-acceptance. And it seems they have.
An email list and a small Facebook fan base helped the movie have two successful Tugg screenings in Austin and Dallas last week, with hopes of continued success across the country for its four-month roadshow. Tugg will be involved with all screenings except one in Troy, New York.
Life post-roadshow remains ambiguous for Harris, who said he may move back to Europe to make another personal documentary.
"I'm still a little overwhelmed by the whole thing," he said, and also hopes that Conan O'Brien will invite him on his show in redhead solidarity.
Harris said he became interested in making a personal documentary after watching Sherman's March. He received one of two AFS Grants (formerly Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund) for the first personal documentary he made about a decade ago.
The experience didn't go quite as planned and Harris said he swore he'd never make another personal documentary. That is, until Being Ginger.
"I'm going to be the ginger filmmaker forever now," he said sardonically.