Film producer Brent Williams’ first film ‘The Garden’ was the realisation of his childhood dream to be a movie director. Now together with an ensemble of other Australian short films, his work will be seen on the big screen at the inaugural ‘Flix in the Stix‘ outdoor film festival, April 10 at Cassegrain Winery.
> Brent, when did you first become involved with short film production & what inspired it?
Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a movie director. I think I was attracted to the idea that I could go on so many adventures. I saw movies as a way to see the world and meet so many talented people. I am also a story teller at heart. I am a real nerd when it comes to films. I have collected over 500 movie posters. I have autographs from over a dozen big name celebrities including Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, John Travolta, Steve McQueen, Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan.
However, because it was so important to me, I put it off out of fear of failing. I thought “If I do this and I’m no good, what does that mean?”. So I put it off for years.
I started seriously in 2007. There were many factors I guess but the main one was reading Peter Jackson’s autobiography. It really gave me belief in myself that I could do it, as a lot of his story really resonated with me.
From his humble beginnings – making a film over his weekends – to producing ‘Lord Of The Rings’, I guess I could see the bridge between where I could start to where I could end up.
> Where did the idea for ‘The Garden’ script come from?
My producer had always talked about a little story that she had been told, that had stayed with her. As it turned out I had also heard of it, but as a three line joke that was floating around the internet many years ago, about a father who could not grow potatoes.
We were both excited with the idea of adapting a story that had touched both of us into a script and subsequent short film. That was the initial inspiration and it just grew from there.
> How are your films funded, what support do you have?
The challenge facing every filmmaker! I have self-funded every project I have made. It’s a big expense, but for me there was never a question of spending, as I have always been clear that filmmaking was going to be my chosen career path. The money has always been viewed as an investment in my directing career.
The irony here is that ‘The Garden’ was my first and most expensive short film. I’ve made six others since and each has cost me less and less, but have grown higher in production values.
This is possible due to my incredible team, most of the crew that started with us on ‘The Garden’ have gone on to have established careers within the film industry and, because of the friendships we have developed, they‘ve come back to join us on all our other projects.
> How long were you in production? What was involved in the process?
Pre-production was about three months. That is where we got a crew on board, wrote a shot list and shooting schedule, held auditions to cast actors, and scouted for locations.
This stage is crucial because when it comes to the days of shooting (that is where a lot of the money is spent) you don’t have the luxury of re-shooting things. So if you are not prepared, it can really come back to bite you.
It was a four day shoot but it felt like four weeks. We had three different locations. One was a gaol two hours out of Sydney, so it was a real logistical challenge to get 30-odd crew and cast out there. We even had our grips truck break down on the freeway, delaying the shoot for a few hours.
Having said that, in hindsight it was the perfect start, because the challenge was so great that our learnings were even more valuable. Post production was about six months long. That is where I compiled the edit. Once that was done, the film needed to go through a sound edit and mix, colour grade, titles and credits, and of course have music written for it.
I certainly have learnt the art of patience, as it is such a collaborative process where you have to put your film into so many other people’s hands and trust that it will turn out how you’ve seen it in your mind’s eye.
> ‘The Garden’ made its debut at film festivals via ‘Newtown Flicks’, what did that mean for the film and for you as a Director?
It was huge. The biggest thing for me was the validation that I can do it. Anyone who gets into filmmaking knows that they are getting into a tough industry. Naturally you have to be extremely passionate about it, otherwise you would never get into it in the first place.
So Newtown Film Festival was certainly the reward at the end. Not to mention getting a live audience to see it in a cinema – to hear their reaction and feedback was very rewarding.
> It was also rated in Newtown Flicks ‘Best of 2009’, which is a great achievement. Has it received any other accolades?
Not as yet. Our festival strategy for ‘The Garden’ is a little different to the traditional ‘send it to as many festivals as possible’. We’ve decided to be quite selective and have wanted to wait for a few of our other films to complete post production, to send as a package.
We’ve been fortunate to have a few sales agents and international programmers wanting to represent the film as well. Hopefully it will make some more festivals here and abroad.
> ‘The Garden’ will be showing at the first outdoor film Festival in Port Macquarie this month, give our readers a run down on the story line …
An old man struggling to make ends meet is attempting to cut corners by growing a vegetable garden in the backyard. Meanwhile his son Jamie, who is in gaol, is frustrated he can’t do more to help. Or can he? ‘The Garden’ is a heartwarming story of the lengths we go to, to help loved ones and how one great idea is sometimes all it takes.
> Have you seen any of the other short films in the Newtown Film Festival?
It was great to see the other short films in competition, there were some fantastic ones that made our participation in the Festival even more significant. You always want your film to be in competition with great company, and it certainly had that with the diversity and high calibre of the other short films in Newtown Flicks.
> How has your film making career progressed?
Well I have made six short films and a television pilot all under the banner of my film production company, Indianic Pictures, with my Producer Dejay Vi Nguyen.
Through the success of our corporate endeavours we were able to invest in more creative endeavours. We’re also in development for three feature films of varying budgets and genres.
> What short film are you working on next?
I have just finished a script called ‘Getting Up’ which is a story set in the late 90s, about a young boy who works at a video store and is trying to break the record for the number of videos carried out to the shelf in one go.
It is a funny premise and based on true events. I like the idea as it is built up as this epic challenge, but in reality it is just about some guy carrying videos!
Thank you Brent, we look forward to seeing your film at ‘Flix in the Stix’.