Interview Clarence Williams IV



Clarence Williams IV

Clarence Williams IV graduated with honors from the John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University. He’s completed 3 feature films since graduating. His feature film, No Doubt, premiered at the 2018 Silicon Beach Film Festival. It’s currently being distributed by IndieFlix and Freakish Films respectively. His last feature, My Friend Tucker, is being distributed by Indie Rights and premiered at the 2018 Golden State Film Festival. Lead actor, Mitchell Edwards won the Best Actor Award for his performance in My Friend, Tucker. Clarence was nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay respectively by the Black and Latino Filmmaker’s Coalition. His writing has been recognized by the BlueCat Screenplay Competition, the Orb Media Group China-Hollywood Writing Fellowship, and the Continuance Pictures Short Film Initiative respectively. Clarence’s short film We Can’t Breathe won the Donald E. Lacy Jr. Social Justice Award from the 2020 Studio City Film Festival and the Best Social Justice Film Award from the 2020 Moving Parts Film Festival. Clarence is also one of 3 recipients of the 2021 More than Music: Black Filmmaker Grant. Most recently, he received an Honorable Mention Award for Best Director from the LA Independent Women Film Awards for his short film The Breakdown.

[MIS]  While growing up what film do you consider to be your source of inspiration?

 [Clarence]   Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing was a major source of inspiration for me growing up. Even as a kid, I was captivated by the relevance of the subject matter, the biting social commentary, and the unflinching depiction of racial tension. I think I’ve seen Do the Right Thing at least a thousand times but I’ll never get tired of watching it. As a young filmmaker coming into his own, Do the Right Thing and Spike Lee’s body of work in general definitely shaped my style as a creator.

[MIS]  You completed 3 feature films since your graduation and now you are directing short films. What do you consider the elements that produce a successful film?

[Clarence]   The key to producing a successful film of any length is passion. If the script doesn’t speak to you, you shouldn’t make the film. You also need a strong cast and crew to help you bring your vision to life. Making a film is a collaborative effort so it’s always better to join forces with people that work hard and play well with others. A director is nothing without their team.

[MIS]  What makes you a comedy genre fan?

 [Clarence]   I love comedies because I’m a naturally goofy person that enjoys keeping things light and making people laugh. I think 90% of my personality comes from the millions of comedic TV shows and films that I’ve watched over the years. I enjoy how energetic and fun comedic films are. I also have great admiration for comedic actors and filmmakers because making people laugh isn’t as easy as it seems.

[MIS]  What is the biggest challenge of shooting an independent film?

[Clarence]   The biggest challenge of shooting an independent film are the external factors. The last project that I directed was a dramatic short called Eyes on Me and I think we lost a solid 2 hours of filming just waiting for the various airplanes to pass by. We shoot all of our projects in real houses/apartments so sometimes the symphony of lawn mowers, loud music, noisy cars, noisy people, weed wackers, and jackhammers can hinder the flow of production. You need a lot of patience and resilience as an independent filmmaker.

[MIS]  “I’m the Man” is about a young man who proposes a threesome with his girlfriend in an effort to regain his confidence. Why did you specifically decide to tell his story?

[Clarence]   Most mornings my wife, Christina, and I go on walks with our Australian Shepard, and we spend a lot of time talking about movies and our next batch of projects. We noticed that a majority of our previous projects have been dramas that tackle pretty heavy topics so we both agreed that our next project would be completely different than what we’ve done before. We were bouncing ideas around and Christina came up with the premise of I’m the Man. I was a little hesitant about the subject matter, but Christina had such a clear and funny vision for what she wanted to create that I couldn’t help but come along for the ride. She wrote the script for I’m the Man in about 30 minutes. I still don’t understand how she does it.

[MIS]  What is the reason behind The Success of it?

[Clarence]   I think the reason why I’m the Man has been so well-received is because Christina wrote a hilarious script. We also had a terrific cast of very talented individuals that really made this a special project. Even though I write and direct a lot of dramatic work, it was refreshing to show audiences my funny side.

[MIS]  Tell us about a story on set, during the shooting

[Clarence]   For this project there isn’t one particular story from the set that stands out more than others, but I will say that we had a hard time getting through takes because everyone on set (myself included) was constantly cracking up.

MIS]  How did you choose your cast and how was the experience working with them?

[Clarence]   Christina actually handles the casting for our projects. She has a great eye for scoping out talent. Kennedy Porter (Eli) was an actor that we’ve worked with previously. He had such great energy on set that we had to bring him back for this one. Tyla Gomez (Liv) was an actress that we hadn’t worked with before, but she did a great job embodying the Liv character. Jesse Mitchell (Drew) is actually a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for years and we’ve always wanted to work together on something, but we couldn’t find the right project until I’m the Man. Jennifer Edwards (Janet) is new to the acting world but she’s good friends with Christina and has always told us to put her in one of our projects. She’s naturally hilarious so it was only right that we rounded out the cast with her. They were all a blast to work with. Their chemistry on-screen really popped. I also have to give a shout-out to my friend Kai Roberts who wrote, produced, and performed the main song featured in the film, “The Man.” Kai’s been creating music for my films since we were in college together and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon.

[MIS]  The Ending was perfect! Did you have another in mind?

[Clarence]   Nope. We ended I’m the Man exactly the way we wanted to

[MIS]  What was the hardest scene to film in “Not How it Goes”?

[Clarence]   The hardest scene in Not How It Goes: Because She Moved On… was actually the scene towards the end of the short where Rylan (Summer Thomas) and Vessey (Zavieh Harrell) were talking outside of the house. The scene itself wasn’t hard to film but we were down to the wire, we could only use our location for a limited amount of time, and that time was running out quickly. Thankfully, we made the day but it was a very stressful moment for all of us (especially me).

Trailer I'm The Man

[MIS]  What kind of stories do you wish to direct?

[Clarence]   As a writer/director, I definitely don’t want to be put in a box. I want to tell love stories, comedic stories, dramatic stories, scary stories, and stories that provoke thought. But, ultimately, I want to tell stories that entertain audiences and can be watched over and over again. The greatest filmmakers are the ones that create timeless work and I strive to do the same with my work.

[MIS]  What advice would you like to give to aspiring filmmakers?

[Clarence]   I may sound like a broken record because I say it so much but I always want to encourage new filmmakers to never underestimate the importance and value of good sound. You can have A-list actors and breathtaking cinematography but if your sound isn’t good, your movie is dead on arrival. I’ve made so many films when I was younger that will never see the light of day because I didn’t care about sound quality. I’d also tell new filmmakers to always have fun with what you create and don’t be afraid to take risks. Respect your cast and crew and be gracious.

[MIS]  What projects are you working on next?

[Clarence]   I wrote and directed a new short film called Eyes on Me that’s currently in post-production. It’s a dramatic piece about an interracial couple that has a difficult conversation about the harsh realities of raising a biracial child. After that, I’m directing another short that I wrote called What to Watch. It’s a comedy about 2 friends that can’t decide on a movie to watch. It’s a relatable situation told in a very quirky fashion. Next year, we’re shooting a dark comedy that Christina wrote called Bite Me. It’s about a guy that learns that the girl he’s been crushing on is a vampire. I’m also a writer-for-hire that’s working on multiple scripts that I’m hoping to share more details about very soon.

[MIS]  Any final thoughts at the end of the interview?

The only thing left to say is thank you for this opportunity and I hope you tune in to our future projects!