Spark Plug Radio Show: Independent Filmmaking in Atlanta ~ King Williams
Spark Plug: Welcome to People You Need to Know on Spark Plug Radio. I’m your host, Spark Plug, publisher of People You Need to Know Magazine, metro Atlanta’s premier businesswomen’s spotlight publication. At People You Need to Know Magazine, we’re proud to promote women in business and give them world-class recognition along the way. I’m glad you tuned in because we have a special treat for our listening audience around the world. This morning, we have a gentleman on the show who is quickly making a name for himself in Atlanta’s independent filmmaking community. And for all of you budding filmmakers out there, he has some great information just for you. Our show today is brought to you by our new official corporate sponsor, Staples, “That was easy.”
In this segment, we’re going to be talking about Independent Filmmaking 101. My guest today is an Atlanta filmmaker who is currently promoting his debut film project entitled, The Atlanta Way. His vision is to create visual experiences in an over-saturated media market. He has worked in music, film, and theatrical ensembles. We are pleased to have on the phone today, Atlanta’s independent filmmaking star, Mr. King Williams. Welcome to the show.
King Williams: Thanks for having me this morning.
Spark Plug: How are you today?
King Williams: Oh, I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m just happy to be here.
Spark Plug: Alright, we’re happy to have you here. Now, we know you’re extremely busy with your new project, The Atlanta Way, so we don’t want to take up too much of your time.
King Williams: Okay.
Spark Plug: Alright. Well, Mr. Williams, what is the biggest obstacle in creating a film, financing or marketing?
King Williams: Especially in this day and age, I will honestly say, it would be more marketing than financing. The reason being is that with the advent of new media and the advent of new technology in our marketplace right now, anybody essentially can make a film, but the obstacle is that it’s been hard to get the word out and market it correctly to your given audiences. So I would definitely say marketing has been a huge obstacle.
Spark Plug: What’s the hardest part about the marketing aspect?
King Williams: Right now, it’s because you have so many different ideas from other film studios and so many ideas from other companies that are really dominating the landscape right now in terms of social media and just being out there in the Internet world and Internet activism. For independent filmmakers, you’re having to find new ways every day to promote your film and really meet your audience.
Spark Plug: What has the rise in digital technology meant for the filmmaking community at large?
King Williams: Honestly, empowerment — and empowerment in the sense that before, you had a lot of voices who would never be heard. And because of new advances, we have so many people now who have the opportunity to really get their names out there, to really get their brand out there. Just take Tyler Perry, you know . . . this guy, he essentially started with just recording his own stage plays and selling them straight to DVDs. Now, you have so many people who followed that model and so many people who feel that, “Hey, if he can do it, I can do it as well.” And I think it’s been a really great thing.
Spark Plug: Okay. Well, you mentioned social media earlier. How has social networking impacted independent filmmaking?
King Williams: Right now, I would say it’s probably been the biggest game-changer in independent film, since probably the digital camera. And when I say the biggest game-changer — in the sense that the Internet is the Wild, Wild West right now, it’s become an open playing field for anyone. Anyone such as myself — people who are really getting into the film business and the people who have already been here or have more status here — they are really rethinking everything they’ve done regarding film before. And so I think it’s been a really great experience right now because you get a chance to speak with people in Singapore, people in Australia, people in the UK as I have with my film, and you can do it all from the comfort of your own home or you can do it from, let’s say, your laptop or your cell phone, so it’s been great.
Spark Plug: Well, what’s the most important advice you have for potential filmmakers?
King Williams: I would say if you have a passion and if you have a dream, you should follow it because now more than ever, the opportunity is there. So if you have an idea that you really want to see come into fruition, this is the time to do it. Never in our time has virtually anyone been able to actually make a film — better yet, actually get the film out there and get it seen by other people. There is a movie, Paranormal Activity, a project of just, you know, a couple of friends in San Diego, and the film went on to do a hundred million dollars. And so, that’s just a testament to the fact that if you really have an idea and you really have some passion behind it, you should really follow it. That’s what I would say the advice would be, if you have a passion, just follow it. Follow it through. You’re going to make a few mistakes along the way, but in general, just follow your passion.
Spark Plug: Well, Mr. Williams, I saw some your trailer for The Atlanta Way and I was really impressed, not just with your work, but with your camera quality. What kind of camera was that?
King Williams: I’m glad you mentioned that. We’ve been using three types actually. One is the Canon 5D which is the actual photographic camera that takes video. The other is the Sony high-definition video camera, and then the other is the Canon again, which is the Excel-1. So those are the three different cameras. We wanted to make sure that we have three different looks going throughout the film, so we just wanted to really showcase what the cameras could do.
Spark Plug: What are some of the prices for those cameras, for those three that you mentioned?
King Williams: They’re slightly more expensive. Right now, they range anywhere from $1,500 to about 4,000. But in terms of filmmaking, that’s definitely a lot cheaper than your standard 8-mm, 16-mm or 35-mm film. The rolls of film in 35-mm cost more than all the cameras we use combined, so I was definitely glad to get a chance to try those and really use them.
Spark Plug: Mr. Williams, should a person wait for financing before deciding to create a film, or should they make it despite having very little money on-hand?
King Williams: In the case of having finances, I would say this — generally, I would say no. And the reason I would say no is that because a lot of times people want to have a production, and they want to do a million-dollar production with no money. So if you know you’re going to do a million-dollar production and let’s say you have no money, but you have a good idea . . . and you happen to have an entire crew who will volunteer their time, as well as a company that’s going to volunteer to lend out costumes and things of that nature — I would go forward with it because now you’re starting to cut down your costs dramatically. So if you can find people who want to volunteer their time and their resources, by all means, go ahead. If not, just hold back for a minute and really get your proposal together and start soliciting money from investors.
Spark Plug: Is it OK to call you King?
King Williams: Yeah, that’s no problem.
Spark Plug: Well, King, I saw that trailer as I mentioned earlier and I’ve seen some of Spike Lee’s best work. Now, yours does seem like it was in the same league. Talk to our listeners a little bit about some of the classes one should take in order to get to your level.
King Williams: Wow, first of all, I’m definitely flattered by that. I definitely am. The classes that I would say you need to take — one, if you don’t get a chance to go to film school, I would suggest to any filmmaker who really wants to . . . just go to film school. Most schools now have anywhere from six-week courses to one-year courses. I would say in general — first, start with the greats. If you really like them, most people when they start a film, they have an idea what they want it to look like. And so if you like Spike Lee films, say, “Hey, I would like to do a film like Spike Lee,” just study his entire catalog and after you study it, just read up on everything about the film to see how he did it, to see how he made it, to see what his motivations were. Really start studying the great auteurs of the film because in studying the great auteurs, you will get to learn different aspects and techniques on why they did it, and that would actually help you in your work because you will learn from their mistakes and not necessarily make the same mistakes that they did on their own projects.
So I would definitely say study their works at first. Secondly, just get a camera and really start playing with it. Once you get a camera in your hand, you’re going to start learning different things about how the camera works, how you work when you hold the camera, and so really just try to play with the camera as much as possible.
Spark Plug: Now, speaking of filmmakers, who are some of the filmmakers who inspired you early on?
King Williams: Oh, obviously, Spike Lee. I feel like Spike Lee is maybe one of the top five greatest filmmakers of all time, so I would definitely say he’s been a big influence. Personally, I go a little bit more towards the classics. I like John Ford, Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock, and Orson Welles. Those are my favorite directors alongside Spike Lee. If anyone’s work I think would influence mine the most, it would probably be Orson Welles and Spike Lee.
Spark Plug: What do you like about Orson Welles?
King Williams: I really like Orson Welles. His ideas at the time — they weren’t always the most original, but his idea was that the story, the presentation of the story and the dialog should be in sync, in the sense that if we look at Citizen Kane, most people considered it to be the greatest film of all time, but for Orson Welles, just reading on the notes, he wanted to make sure that he delivered a life story of the man, and it seemed interesting for an audience at that time, which we’re not necessarily interested in seeing biopics or pseudo-biopics. So I always liked the idea that the information and the entertainment facts should be in sync.
Spark Plug: Okay. Well, King, do you have any other upcoming films we should be on the lookout for?
King Williams: Right now. it’s The Atlanta Way, and after The Atlanta Way, I’ll be producing a series of short films and so that won’t be until maybe mid-2011 or fall 2011 for the short films, so right now, I’m just focusing on The Atlanta Way.
Spark Plug: Alright. And finally, tell our listeners how you can be reached.
King Williams: If you want to reach me, I’m on Facebook. I’m just at King Williams, if you’d like to meet me on Facebook. Or if you’re on Twitter, you can meet me at The Atlanta Way. And if you’re on YouTube, you can search The Atlanta Way as well. So you have three options, just search YouTube for The Atlanta Way, search Twitter for The Atlanta Way, and if you’re on Facebook, you can just search me directly at King Williams.
Spark Plug: Alright. Now, before we bring this interview to a close, are there any final things you’d like to say about your upcoming film, The Atlanta Way?
King Williams: First, I would like to say thank you for having me today even as a guest on your program. I definitely thank you for it. I would like to give a shout out to the Social Network King who helped put this together as well as everyone else who is a part of The Atlanta Way, the entire staff and everyone who has been really putting this film and this project together. And so I just want to shout out to those people and I hope to see you guys this fall. So just check us out, The Atlanta Way as soon as you get the time. We’re online at Twitter and YouTube.
Spark Plug: Alright. Well, Mr. King Williams, an Atlanta filmmaker who is currently working on his debut film project entitled, The Atlanta Way — thanks for spending some of your most valuable time with us today.
King Williams: Oh, no problem.
Spark Plug: You’ve been listening to People You Need to Know on Spark Plug Radio, the radio station connecting you to America’s leading business professionals. To listen to even more people you need to know, just Google Spark Plug Radio or visit our website at SparkPlugPeople.com and be sure to follow us on Twitter at PYNTK. I want to take a moment to thank my executive producer, Ms. Jacqueline Benjamin-Thomas for doing another A1 job.
This is Spark Plug encouraging you to keep supporting women in business because when women succeed, the nation prospers. And while you’re at it, make sure you check out The Atlanta Way and give some support to Mr. King Williams, Atlanta’s hottest new filmmaking star. So until next time, always remember that you can add a spark to whatever you do. And thanks for tuning in.