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Interview with Richard Williams about his film Joyceana

17 Sep , 2020  

Written by Hope Johnson | Posted by:

NewEnglandFilm.com talks with Richard Williams about his film Joyceana which screens as part of the 2020 Online New England Film Festival.

Filmmaker Richard Williams talks about his latest character-driven film Joyceana, which premieres at the 2020 Online New England Film Festival. 

NewEnglandFilm.com: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?

Richard Williams: I’ve been interested in making films for a long time—thirty years, at least—but it has only been in the last five years that I began treating it as something I might actually do. At the right moment, I was fortunate to meet a group of actors in an acting class that have given their time and effort to provide me an opportunity to make films. 

I learned how to make films from a lifetime of watching films, a wealth of information on the Internet, and just trying. If you have a smartphone, you can learn to make films.

NewEnglandFilm.com: What inspired you to make your film?

Williams: Two related realizations inspired the making of this film. First, nothing happens unless you finally make it happen. Second, I’m not going to be around forever. The specific inspiration for the subject matter of “Joyceana” came from the idea of a chess set that was left in the middle of a game. I started with that image and the story followed.

NewEnglandFilm.com: How did you find your cast and crew for this film?

Williams: I knew and had worked on other projects with most of the cast and crew, but one of the roles was cast through auditions.

NewEnglandFilm.com: How does your film fit into today’s current social and political moment?

Williams: I’m not sure that it does. Its themes are more about what it is to be a person at any time than a particular moment in time. In fact, I think of it as kind of a throwback in its style, and not just because it’s in black and white.

NewEnglandFilm.com: What do you hope people take away from watching your film? 

Williams: I think real character-driven stories help us better understand ourselves and each other, and develop empathy for how we are all constantly struggling to understand our own fears, desires, motivations, and limitations. I want to make films that do that in interesting, amusing, and aesthetically satisfying ways. Also, I hope they laugh at the funny parts.

NewEnglandFilm.com:  What other projects are you working on?

Williams: I have a couple of scripts for other short films that I’m interested in making, and once we are back to something resembling normal, I will start planning one of those projects.

NewEnglandFilm.com: Anything else you want to share that might be of interest to our readers?

Williams: Making Joyceana was a great experience, and though it has its flaws, it is the first film I spent a substantial amount of time and effort on and I am proud of the result. Also, every film is a group effort, and I am only part of a team along with the co-producer, actors, crew, and everyone else who helped us.

Joyceana screens at the 2020 Online New England Film Festival at NewEnglandFilm.com.