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Archive for Thursday, April 4, 1996

FILMMAKER HARVEY DIES

April 4, 1996

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Herk Harvey's "Carnival of Souls" is viewed as an important contribution to the genre of horror films.

No matter the size of the project, Harold A. "Herk" Harvey always gave it his all.

"He was a worker," said Art Wolf, Lawrence, who hired Harvey in 1949 to work at Centron Films, a Lawrence-based independent film production company that opened in 1947. Harvey worked as a producer and film director at Centron for 35 years, making a variety of industrial and educational films.

"He would do everything to get the job done," said Wolf, a Centron co-founder. "Everything, to him, was keeping things moving along, getting things done. He would do whatever needed to be done to get things done."

Harvey, who was best known for his one feature film, "Carnival of Souls," a 1961 horror film that later attracted a cult following, died Wednesday at his Lawrence home. He was 71. Memorial services are pending at Warren-McElwain Mortuary.

During a special ceremony last month, a sound stage at Oldfather Studios, which formerly housed Centron Films, was dedicated and named in Harvey's honor. The former Centron building now is home to Kansas University's film school. Harvey also taught film-making classes at KU during his career.

"Herk was a very understanding person," Wolf said. "He understood the problems of actors because he had been one. He understood the problems of anybody working in a film. It was tedious work."

Norm Stuewe, Lawrence, a former cinematographer for Centron, traveled around the world with Harvey making films. He also remembered Harvey for the effort he put into his work.

"He never slighted anything," Stuewe said. "He was tireless. He was the kind of guy who would never ask you to do something he wouldn't do himself."

Harvey proved that on many occasions, Stuewe said, recalling a trip to Costa Rica, where both he and Harvey climbed to the top of a water tower to get just the right shot of a banana plantation.

"Herk was absolutely a very innovative guy, a remarkable guy," Stuewe said. "I always wondered why a guy like Herk Harvey didn't go on to Hollywood. He had that ability. Maybe he got what he wanted by working at Centron. When big jobs came in, he got them. We did some big jobs. We had a lot of Fortune 500 companies."

John Clifford, who wrote the script for "Carnival of Souls," said Harvey once estimated he made 400 films during his career. Many lasted less than 10 minutes. His efforts garnered him numerous national and international awards.

"I'm not sure whether he counted them or not," Clifford said. "He directed films or worked on them constantly."

Clifford, of Lawrence, said "Carnival of Souls" truly was Harvey's project.

"He just did it himself," Clifford said. "He took time off (from Centron). He came to me and asked me to write the script. I wrote the script. He hired the people and shot it in three weeks in Lawrence and Salt Lake City."

The film's total budget was $30,000.

"He and I worked together for years and years," Clifford said. "He was a giant in my life. He used to direct my plays and act in them. He was always very encouraging to me as he was to everyone."

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