LOS ANGELES - “Why should I worry? Why should I care?” I sang while walking down a side street on the way to interview Director Tim Disney for his upcoming feature film, “William.” If you are familiar with those lyrics and his previous work, you would recognize the lyrics from the animated film “Oliver and Company”.
Arriving at the location, I immediately spotted a gentleman wearing glasses who reminded me of Woody Allen. Another lady and I had walked into the previous interview, just as it was wrapping up. Disney, incredibly patient and understanding, introduced himself, then moved about, as the interviewers rotated.
Getting back to the movie, the many levels of personification performed by the actors could only have happened from first, a solid script, followed by: precise direction, clear vision, understanding of the story components and a team that believes in the project.
"Will Brittain in Tim Disney's WILLIAM Photo Credit: Ricardo Hubbs"
The casting team did a fantastic job bringing on actors that brought the characters to life. The ensemble cast features Will Brittain (“Kong: Skull Island, as William); Waleed Zuaiter (House of Cards, Altered Carbon); Maria Dizzia (13 Reasons Why, The Duece and Orange is the New Black); Beth Grant (Donnie Darko, Speed); and Christian Convery, and Kevin Dzah who deliver "out of the park" portrayals of modern-day humans adjusting to raising a literal Neanderthal.
The tale of William is more than a glimpse into the possibility of creating life from prehistoric DNA. William is also a reminder that we create our own stories and fears that could cause harm to innocent lives.
In the subtext of the film, Disney does an excellent job capturing the essence of a misunderstood individual; one trying to fit into a world where most of the world views him as a monster.
As for the actors, Brittain committed to the role of a Neanderthal to the point where viewers see a person and not an experiment.
Zuaiter’s performance as William’s father, Dr. Julian Reed, is also one to be noted, as Zuaiter’s character had the most need for self-control. There are many layers to the character and Zuaiter does a phenomenal job peeling back each layer at the appropriate moment.
As for the film itself, the action starts immediately. I think it’s important to point out that "William" was spawned from the creative duo of J.T. Allen and Disney, who co-wrote the script. The duo's ability to jump back and forth between different time periods was inspiring and impressive! And, the sound design, cinematography, and editing helped to set the tone of the film, beautifully.
Also, within the film, there is a reference to the 13th amendment. During my one-on-one interview with Disney, I took a risk and asked for more clarification, also hoping to not be thrown out of the room! Generally, when I ask people questions about race, I get in return a polished and surface-level response. Disney, however, did not shy away from answering my questions. He responded simply and with a sense of sadness: “Slavery is a defining issue of American culture.”
Although he appeared to be extremely empathetic to the human experience of all races, Disney did conclude that the line in question is a “significant point to make. You can't own a person.”
“William,” is a film for families, students of anthropology, science, humanities, social justice, and political action. It is a film for people who question the idea of cloning and lab-created “humans.” It is also a film that people should watch with their communities, hopefully allowing the experience motivate them to be willing to accept the unknown. Hopefully this film inspires people to not fear what doesn’t look or behave like them. And, hopefully, the film will also encourage people to accept that all living beings deserve a life of freedom, the ability to exist and to be loved.
Before my interview with Disney wrapped up, I was also able to get a little insight into his next project, one that is, incredibly, even more ambitious. Given the fact that there is a great amount of subtext put into "William," I gathered that Disney is a thoughtful storyteller, one with heart. I trust his next project will be just as impactful.
“William” opens in select theaters on April 12, 2019.
As for aspiring filmmakers hoping to carve out their own careers in the industry, Disney’s advice is to "go out and make your projects! Do not let lack of resources or funding stop you from making your visions come to life!" And we would agree. After all, we see you!
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