William J. Saunders worked at NFL Films after graduating from Columbia
University’s School of the Arts. There he learnt the craft of documentary
filmmaking, directing and producing various projects. Since he was involved
in the first season of the HBO series “Hard Knocks.” At the Los Angeles
Film Festival he’s premiering his new film “Billy Mize and the Bakersfield
[Editor’s Note: Indiewire reached out to filmmakers with films
playing at the 20th LA Film Festival (June 11-19) to ask them about how
they shot their indie, and what advice they had for other filmmakers.
We’ll be posting their responses throughout the run of the festival. Go HERE for the master list.]
What camera and
lens did you use? Because this documentary was shot over the course of 5 years, in the
middle of the digital camera revolution, I used several different cameras. Sony
EX1, Panasonic HVX, Cannon 7D – everything. I have to admit, my favorite camera
to use was the Cannon 7D with a 35mm lens.
was the most difficult shoot on your movie and how did you pull it off? The most
difficult scene was the ending of the film (which I won’t give away here). It’s
a documentary, so we had one shot at it and took time to map out the cameras
and discuss various blocking possibilities and variables and what to do if THIS
happens and how to adjust if THIS happens. I think all the operators did a
great job. The ending of the film speaks for itself.
What’s the one
thing you wish someone had told you BEFORE you started your movie? Raise money.
What’s the worst
piece of advice you ever got? Someone once suggested I try the nigiri roll at
Samba Sushi in NYC. Don’t do it.
What’s the best? Someone once
suggested I try the Honey Walnut Shrimp at The Palace in Los Feliz. Amazing.
What advice do you
have for aspiring or first-time filmmakers? Every successful filmmaker has one thing in
common: they didn’t quit.
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