Uprooted from her childhood home in Texas by her father’s new job, seventeen-year-old Shani Peterson (Megan Jay Simrell) moves to California with her new step-mom, Denise (Chanel Ryan). Their new home, located deep in the redwoods of Central California is a dream come true… until it’s not. With an over friendly Reverend and his alcoholic assistant as their only neighbors, Shani and Denise must unearth the haunting mysteries of the house and its history, before they lose their home, or lives.
We spoke to William about his love of filmmaking and the hurdles he had to overcome in order to get the film done.
How long a trek has this been, sir? A number of years in the making?
House on Rodeo has taken me over five years to write, produce, direct and go through post production. I believe you could call it a labour of love. Thank goodness it is now over and my wife is still with me. Some of the reasons it took so long was I also do aerial photography and commercial property management. In addition, I had to teach myself how to edit, color, do sound and grade my footage. It was like sending myself to film school to earn a graduate degree but I believe I saved myself a couple hundred dollars so the long time in making this film was worth it.
How does it feel now that the movie is out? Nervous excitement, I imagine?
After our exciting and very well received premiere some two weeks ago, I stayed in bed for three days to catch up on my sleep. I now wait with nervous anticipation for the reviews to come in. So far 90% of them have been very good which is allowing me to sleep better. But the bottom line is I liked what I accomplished and that’s all that counts. Not everyone is going to like “House on Rodeo Gulch” because I took a lot of chances but I like it and that’s all that counts.
Are reviews the be all and end all of a movie? Do you consider positive reviews the foremost sign of a successful movie – or is it successful when you make a profit?
My goal was to make an independent film on a limited budget that would look like a Hollywood produced movie. It would be commercial, be available on VOD and return my investment back to me. Positive reviews will help in getting more viewers and thus more revenue. They do call this “show business” and getting back your investment is part of the challenge.
How much have you personally got riding on the film?
This film is mostly my hard work and if it is not successful only I am to blame. I hired the team and called the shots so the buck stops with me. But I’m a very positive person and know this film will do well with viewers and at the box office.
Do you have other projects you’d like to set up next?
House on Rodeo Gulch was my first film and I’ll be using it as my calling card to be hired to Direct other productions. I’m also in my fifth rewrite for my next thriller “Cantiga Bay”. It will be a much bigger budget feature with two or three “named stars”.
What was the most difficult thing about doing this film?
A number of things come to me immediately. First, was getting cast and crew to believe in you when you didn’t have prior credits or even a director’s reel. Secondly, was learning how to be an expert editor, sound engineer and colorist when you’ve never done it before. I learned earlier in life that one way to be successful was to surround yourself with people smarter than you. My DP, Chen Dubrin, knew more about cinema cameras, lighting and sound than me so he was a great teacher to have around.
If you weren’t a filmmaker, what do you think you’d be?
I can’t think of any other career because I’ve pretty much done it all. Past accomplishment were being an Army Ranger, jumping out of airplanes, acting in movies with big Hollywood stars, selling my first script to a studio, asked to pose in Playgirl magazine, taking a small airplane up to 30,000 feet, almost being killed five times, lived in many parts of the world, being successful in commercial real estate and having a great family. I’m a great believer that you only live once so do it with gusto. You don’t want to be lying on your death bed saying… I wish I had done that.