A former Richmond resident who writes, produces and directs for TV shows and movies is returning home from Los Angeles to share his experiences.

Aaron Harberts, who was born in Iowa and raised in Richmond and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will speak at 6 p.m. Friday at Richmond Art Museum’s 16th annual Phantoscope High School Film Festival.

Aaron Harberts

Harberts’ talk in the newly renovated McGuire Auditorium at Richmond High School will complement the live screening of 12 short films made by students from around the country.

For those who can’t attend, the films and awards will be streamed at 7 p.m. Saturday on RAM’s Facebook page.   

Harberts can offer insights about his childhood in Richmond and early start in storytelling.

Harberts’ family moved to Richmond in 1976. His father, Steven, was the senior pastor of Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church while they were in Indiana. 

Aaron attended Charles Elementary and spent half a year at Test Junior High before the family left in 1985 when he was 12. 

He made lifelong connections while in college, meeting his future writing and producing partner Gretchen J. Berg at Northwestern University’s School of Communication. 

Their writing and producing stints on “Beverly Hills, 90201”; “Roswell”; “John Doe”; “Wonderfalls”; and “North Shore” preceded their creation of “Pepper Dennis,” starring Rebecca Romijn for the CW.

Additional credits include “Women’s Murder Club,” “Pushing Daisies,” “GCB,” “Revenge,” “Reign,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” and “Our Kind of People,” in addition to the feature film “Valentine.”

Harberts also has developed pilots for 20th Century Fox TV, Warner Bros. Television, ABC Studios, and Amazon Studios.

Currently, Harberts is a consulting producer on the Disney Channel’s roller-skating comedy “Saturdays.”

Several filmmakers with Wayne County ties have spoken at previous Phantoscope gatherings, including camera operator Jessica Lakoff Cameron and director of photography Larry Blanford. 

The juried festival is an incentive for young filmmakers to create works that will be shared in front of a live audience.

It also serves as a reminder of Richmond’s important early role in the film industry. The festival is named after former Richmond resident and inventor C. Francis Jenkins. He created the first projection device, which he called a Phantoscope.

Sponsors include 3Rivers, Indiana University East, FilmFreeway, Talent Fusion, Stamm Koechlein Family Foundation, Reid Health, Indiana Arts Commission and Community Foundation of Randolph County. 

If you go

What: 16th Annual Phantoscope High School Film Festival, sponsored by Richmond Art Museum

When: 6 p.m. Friday, April 28: speaker, film screening and awards; 7 p.m. April 29, Facebook Premiere at facebook.com/RichmondArtMuseum

Where: McGuire Auditorium, Richmond Art Museum, 350 Hub Etchison Parkway, Richmond

Cost: Free

Info: 765-966-0256 or stephanie@richmondartmuseum.org

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A version of this article appeared in the April 26 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.