Hercules Invictus Presents:
Hercules: Greetings Bill! Thank you very much for granting the time for this
interview. I greatly enjoyed your film, 'Children of the Stars'.
According to IMDB, you have been involved with five other films, four
documentaries and a short. Can you share a bit about your cinematic
Bill: I had a job that probably sounded good on paper but I hated it. I
started making movies for no particular reason and it seemed to
stick. I mostly do things that interest me or that involve my
friends. And sometimes I do things just because I need to work but I
do that as little as possible.
Hercules: Do you favor documentaries?
Bill: Some of my favorite films are documentaries. Some are not. I have a
couple features that I’m working on as well, but in general I tend
to gravitate towards documentaries. I like the lack of control
inherent in their making.
Hercules: You've also worn several different hats: Producer, Director, Editor,
Cinematographer, Writer, Camera & Equipment. Which aspects of
filmmaking do you especially enjoy?
Bill: The hardest part is the editing but I also think it’s the most
satisfying. It’s really where the rubber meets the road. You get to
play with all the material and finesse rhythm, tone and story. When
I’m filming I tend to think like an editor. Sometimes I forget I’m
actually in the room filming and I wonder why the editor hasn’t cut
to another scene yet!
Hercules: How did you first learn about Unarius?
Bill:I grew up in San Diego and they were a constant subterranean presence
through their late night cable access shows and parade appearances.
They always seemed mysterious but also a lot of fun.
Hercules: What inspired you to make a movie about them?
Bill: I’m interested in people who create their own worlds, their own
realities. I think we all do it to some degree but the Unariuns take
it to an extreme. It really is a whole world they’ve created (or
maybe just recognized, depending on your view of their beliefs). And
of course they are inherently cinematic, with their costumes,
pageants and their amazing sci-fi extravaganzas.
Hercules: 'Children of the Stars' demonstrated that you are quite knowledgeable
about the Unariun paradigm. Are you a Student of Unarius?
Bill: No, I am not a student of Unarius. While I don’t share their views
I do very much admire and like them as people. I’m a very skeptical
person and that extends to my being skeptical of my skepticism. I
tend to believe that none of us really have anything figured out. So
if the teachings of Unarius bring the students happiness and it
doesn’t harm anybody else I’m fine with it. It’s interesting
when people watch the movie; some see it as a take down of Unarius
while others seem convinced that I’m a Unarian. That makes me
happy. I wanted it to be ambiguous in some ways and to challenge
people’s ideas of what a film like this can be, and what their own
beliefs are. The confusion is welcome.
Hercules: Is there any aspect of the Unariun message or mission that
especially appeals to you?
Bill: I love the sense of community and I love the emphasis on creativity.
They are constantly creating – books, paintings, movies, exhibits.
I love eccentric people who have a sense of humor about their own
weirdness – the Unariuns know that they come across a bit wacky to
some people and they play with that while still being very serious
about their beliefs and what you might call their mission. Their
scrappy DIY aesthetic is great. I made a movie about punk rock called
It’s Gonna Blow!!! and there are really a lot parallels between the
seemingly very different communities. They both get things done with
limited resources and a total disregard for the mainstream.
Hercules: Is there any aspect of the Unariun message or mission that does not resonate with you?
Bill: I don’t particularly believe in any of their fundamental beliefs. I don’t believe in the Intergalactic Federation, past lives, Atlantis – any of it. But I also don’t know that I’d be surprised if any of it turned out to be true. Life is inherently ridiculous and it seems like anything is possible.
Hercules: The trailers and other promos hinted of a different type of movie. What caused you to discount the sensationalism? Your approach in the released version is actually quite respectful of the people and the material you were covering.
Bill: That’s interesting. I’m not sure I realized the trailers are any different from the movie but it’s hard for me to judge. I feel like most outsiders take a ‘look at the freaks’ approach to Unarius and I didn’t want to do that. I DO think they’re funny and I think they’re very aware of their kookiness, so the movie is funny in many ways, but that doesn’t make their lives and stories any less real or deeply felt. I wanted to put people into the mind of a Unarian and let them see what it was like, for better and for worse. That’s why I ended up using very little of Diana Tumminia’s (a sociologist who lived with and studied the group) interview; I wanted to stick with their worldview as much as possible and keep us within it. My critiques of the group are there in the editing choices and the juxtapositions I create. It’s very apparent if you want to see it but that’s very much up to the individual viewer. I think my answer to question number 7 covers some of this as well.
Hercules: What project can we expect next?
Bill: I’ve got a handful of docs I’m developing right now and they’re all over the map. There’s one about a writer, one about a wine maker, one about a band. Another is almost like a counterpoint to Children of the Stars but set in the music world. I don’t know which, if any, will come to fruition. There are so many variables and challenges getting a project going.
Hercules: And where do you want your creative path to take you?
Bill: I want to continue to make films about people doing things on their own terms. And I want to make them on my own terms as well.
Hercules: How can people learn more about you?
Bill: I’m at www.billingsgate.org. Or if you see a guy in a dark bar hiding behind his camera it might be me. Come say hello.
Hercules: Thank you once again for the interview, Bill! I wish you great success in all your future endeavors!
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Courtesy of and (c) Billingsgate Media
Larger Than Life Living in the World Today
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