This week’s Filmmaker Spotlight focuses on Director William Beaton, whose film is showcased at Sunset Gower Studios as part of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. Learn about his film, Punch Face Moan as he discusses goals and reminisces about making the film, lessons he’s learned and where you can catch him next.
Name/Position: William Beaton writer/director
Film: Punch Face Moan
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.
The idea for Punch Face Moan came from an online writing competition whose brief was to write a short script all set in a hotel room. The initial draft was a finalist at the Canadian Short Film Competition. Then from there, I developed the idea with short film ‘guru’ Roberta Munroe. It was shot on 35mm in a rundown motel on Hollywood Boulevard with a crew drawn from the AFI conservatory namely the DP and fellow Brit Polly Morgan who has just completed shooting episodes of American Horror Story. Post-Production concluded with a full digital intermediate at EFilm Hollywood where the color correction finishing touches were completed in October 2012. Along the way we have screened the Cleveland International Film Festival, Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival and have a pending distribution deal in place.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping out with this film?
I would like to thank my mother and father who have sadly passed on, my amazing wife Claudia Beaton who was so supportive during the whole process, the two lead actors Zack Bennett and Dustin Varpness who are the DNA of the film, Neil Garguilo and Fredrick Hamel who are hilarious in the film, EFilm Hollywood for all their generosity, Andrew Francis the colorist, Polly Morgan for shooting an amazing negative and hustling up so much equipment, crew and stock, and the remaining cast and crew for all their amazing hard work and creatively.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
In a word, fantastic! My friend and festival consultant Stacey Marbrey told me about NewFilmmakers LA and how it was the perfect place to screen Punch Face Moan in Los Angeles. Then I did some more research and realized how right she was. The whole event is geared toward shining a light on artists who have committed so much to their short films, that to have a forum to share the victory after so much blood, sweat and tears have been spilt, with fellow filmmakers and family and friends, is really exciting. The whole event is so well organized and the press coverage is unparalleled as far as I know for independent short films outside of the big festivals.
What inspires you?
Big question. New York, London and a day free from commitments.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
Billy Widler, Alexander McKendrick, Norman Beaton, Luchiano Visconti, Rene Magritte, Jack Nicholson, Afrika Bambaataa, Larry Levan, Spike Jonze, Nelson Mandela, Amy Goodman, Gwen Stefani, Martin Luther King Junior, Malcolm X, Dr. Cornel West Maya Angelou, Q Tip and Germaine Greer.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
Treat everyone with respect, not to trust anyone (ha ha), don’t give up on your dreams because I’ve seen contemporaries break through to the big time, knowing when to keep your mouth shut and don’t let the bastards keep you down.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
Actor Paul Giamatti, Actress Kristen Wigg, Musician Raphael Saadiq, composer Alexandre Desplat, writer Peter Morgan, Actor Michael Sheen, writer Ronald Harwood, director Stephen Frears, hip hop mogul Sean ‘Puff Daddy’ Combs, composer Lalo Schifrin, composer Burt Bacharach, composer John Barry, DP Roger Deakins, artist Julian Schnabel, musician Stevie Wonder and producer Mark Wahlberg.
What is the toughest experience you’ve ever had to overcome?
The death of my mother Jane Beaton.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
Have a good editor.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Keep shooting and trying ideas. Study the best fimmakers in documentary, music videos, commercials, art videos and feature films. Learn the conventions and film grammar before you break them otherwise you story could be muddled and misunderstood. Technology is so accessible these days and so it’s cheap to shoot. Look at Dogma 95 and Mumblecore. Conversely I come from an old school craftsmanship tradition and appreciate expertise across the whole team. So something well crafted, original and well shot, even if its 10 seconds long, can make you stand out.
Where can we expect to see you next?
Working on another short film, which I hope to turn into a feature film, a web series about a UK soccer player in Los Angeles, a stage play and several other feature projects.