Filmmaker Spotlight: Carey Williams


Short films are often a first acquaintance to a feature film that a filmmaker may have in mind. For award winning filmmaker Carey Williams his short, Cherry Waves, will be developed from first acquaintance to a full feature.

Carey also talks to us about his eventful year directing an episode of Banshee Origins, his HBO and NBC wins, upcoming projects, and staying humble.

What has this past year been like for you?

This past year has been a fantastic ride creatively. I had the great fortune of shadowing Emmy-winning director Greg Yaitanes on the television show Banshee. I learned the in’s and out’s of television production, discovering that mostly the difference is the pace and how to direct the actors. I was unexpectedly given the opportunity to direct an episode of their web series Banshee Origins, while there.

I also had the feature version of my short film Cherry Waves optioned by an independent company out of Austin, Texas and have been in development on that for the past few months.

Lastly, I signed with Lindsay Framson at United Talent Agency, which I’m very excited about. She’s great and they really cater to developing talent.

Tell me about your awards:

My short film Cherry Waves received the Best short in the 2012 HBO short film showcase as well as Best Short in the 2012 NBC Shortscuts. I didn’t anticipate the wins. I felt strongly that I had a solid piece, but I was in very strong company of filmmakers in both competitions.

That’s exciting to hear that your short will become a feature. Tell me about Cherry Waves and how you are going to develop it into a feature

The short of Cherry Waves had quite a bit of story crammed into 14 minutes. There was more story to tell, but I had no idea if people would respond to what was there. You never know and that’s the exciting, scary and wonderful thing about art. Once I saw that it started to resonate with folks, I expanded the story and explored the relationships of the characters. I began writing the feature version along with the producer of the short Brad Clements and another writer Rickie Castaneda.

What are your other two new feature projects called? Are you doing any crowd funding for those films?

One project is a psychological thriller in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby meets The Conjuring, that I’m writing with Brad Clements. Here are a couple of visual mood teasers for them.

I’ve found that when I set out to make a new film, I’m anxious to shoot something. I’m a very visual person so I try to shoot something that represents the tone of what I’m thinking and it keeps a fire lit to fully realize the project.

The other project is a drama that I’m writing with Rickie Castaneda. It’s at the stage that I don’t want to say too much it, yet.

Who are you making this film for?

Honestly, I’ve found that I will forever make films for me first and foremost. It goes back to what I stated earlier about never knowing if people will respond to your art or not. All you can do is make something that comes from your true self and your heart, and that you are proud of and that’s it. If people love it, that’s wonderful. If people don’t respond to it, its still okay because you made something that you are happy with.

What films have been an inspiration for you?

The films that have inspired me are varied. I can watch Jaws over, and over again. The way Spielberg directed that film is incredible. Another favorite is Rosemary’s Baby. The subtleness and restraint of that film really resonate with me. It manages to be so creepy without trying too hard. There will be Blood is also a favorite. Recently, Blue is the Warmest Color, blew me away for its rawness. I also thought Spring Breakers was mesmerizing in its filmmaking. Many people want to write that film off, but I felt Harmony Korine nailed it visually with cinematographer Benoît Debie and Harmony put some subversive commentary in there.

Who/what has been your inspiration to your style of filmmaking?

My inspirations for my style of filmmaking has always been music first and foremost. Music is my first love which led me to music videos. In the world of music videos, I was always drawn to the work of strong visualists, such as Chris Cunningham, David Fincher, Mark Romanek, Hype Williams, Francis Lawrence, Paul Hunter, and Jonathan Glazer. I developed my craft in the world of music videos, trying different things, sometimes succeeding, oftentimes failing, but it was a great opportunity to experiment with the music as my guide and backbone. I not only grew as a filmmaker, but as a person, losing the fear of failure and as well as the fear of judgement on the art.

My filmmaking progressed to narrative storytelling and in that realm I was drawn to the work of Paul Thomas Anderson, Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski, David Fincher, Spike Lee and Steven Spielberg. These directors are not only great visualists, using their camera with a specific point of view, but they also elicit excellent performances from their actors. That inspires me.

What advice do you have for starting filmmakers or current filmmakers?

I’m still learning and I hope to always be learning on my journey as a filmmaker, but I do have some words of advice that I remind myself and would share with others:

-Stay humble. Bottom line, no matter where you are in your career, remain humble because it’s a blessing to be able to do it.

- Don’t take it personally. As artists, it can sting when someone trashes your work, something you put your heart and many hours into. Don’t let it discourage you, you will never please everyone. My short film won some wonderful awards, but was also not accepted into many festivals and was even booed at a festival. Art is subjective, don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like it. As long as you like it, thats what matters. Which leads me to the next—

- Make the piece that you want to make, Go with your damn gut. I had numerous people tell me to change aspects of my short film in order to make it more accessible. Accessible to whom? All I knew is that I had made the story I wanted to tell and if I changed it to make it more “accessible,” I wouldn’t want to stand in front of a theatre of people and represent a film that wasn’t from my true self. Any time you have the chance to make exactly the film that you want to make, take it and don’t listen to anyone telling you what you should do. You are the artist, make your art. Be selfish about it. People are committed to helping you make your art because they believe in you, honor that and make exactly what you are intending to make.

- Its alright to not know the answers. I went through a period of extreme anxiety over not knowing every answer immediately on set. As a director you are asked questions constantly, almost every decision is run through you and I’m telling you, there will be times that you honestly just don’t have the answer at the ready. Red scarf or Blue scarf? Is this enough bruising on her eye? We’re losing light, is this shot really important or should we cut it and move on to the other shots before sundown? Prep can mitigate a lot of those game time decisions, but never all of them so I’m telling you, Its okay to not know the answer. Ask the costume designer, makeup artist, director of photography, etc, what they think if you don’t know. They are your collaborators and will often know what they want already. Allow them to express their creative thoughts and you have the right to agree or disagree based on your vision. You will feel less anxiety and you will also strengthen that bond of trust with your collaborator.

-Have fun dammit. If it’s not, then why do it?

Find out more about Carey Williams-

Carey Williams website:

Twitter: @cdubfilmmaker

Facebook: Carey Williams

IMDB: Carey Williams