Garret Williams causes an ‘Eco-Riot’ with his latest film
Jack of all trades Garret Williams has released Eco-Riot and you should be paying attention. As a director, writer, and actor Garret Williams is no stranger to the camera. Growing up with an artistic family in Michigan, his creative pursuits were supported.
Garret had a camera in his hands from the young age of six, thanks to his photographer father. His family encouraged him to create short films, documentaries and movies in his childhood. When he grew older, he moved out to Los Angeles and enrolled in Directing classes at UCLA as well as the famed Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute where he studied under David Strasberg, son of Lee Strasberg.
“As a filmmaker you are given all the power to bring truth and new perspectives to the world of ideas.” Garret described. “I want my films to inspire viewers, question the conventional circuit, and act as philosophies to the way we live and breathe.”
Garret just finished a screenplay called The Blood Poet, the story a young student who mistakenly becomes involved with the criminal underworld of Beverly Hills to find his missing girlfriend and earn money to afford a college education as his mother’s last dying wish.
Garret drew a lot of inspiration from his personal life and highlighted the challenges of the student loan debt crisis. “It is a reality that hasn’t got enough attention,” he explained. “The improved economy has yet to mean higher wages for many graduates already struggling to pay down massive debt. And the problem is only getting worse.”
Eco-Riot is an epic saga featuring Garret Williams, Scott Davies, Broc Sargent, and Martta Rebekka. Nancy, an oil tycoon’s daughter is kidnapped by a cultish environmental group ready to wage civil war over climate change.
In the midst of heightened tension & riots, the group splinters over violent and radical movements of other members. Inspired by the Paris Climate Riots and the LA ‘92 riots, Eco-Riot is a global warming short film produced and directed by Garret Williams.
Tell us about your history as a filmmaker. How did you start your journey?
Essentially, my filmmaking career started when I was 16, blowing things up in my backyard, shooting my friends with paintball guns, and making skateboarding videos. The first camera that I had was a giant black Sony VHS handheld that you had to stuff with video tapes to use.
I grew up on ten acres in isolation, with plenty of freedom to build and create. I had a half-pipe, a zipline, a treehouse, and a pool, and we recorded all of the dumb stunts we could think of. I started taking filmmaking more seriously after sneaking into a few classes at UCLA while I was attending the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute part time.
Who are your current influences?
Andrei Tarkovski has been the most influential to me in terms of film. Many of my current influences come from people outside of film. People like Greta Thunberg, Nadia Murad and anyone else who makes me laugh or think differently.
What five TV shows do you think everyone should watch this year?
Euphoria, The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, The Affair . . .
Cat or dog?
What was the one movie you saw that made you want to go into film?
How was working on Eco Riot? What did you learn from the experience?
Working on Eco-Riot was a life-changing experience. I wrote the film with the perspective that these so-called “eco-terrorists” labeled by the media were a bit off their horse and a little crazy. I still believe they are, but I think they are absolutely right in their urgency to fight against global warming and pollution at all costs.
After finishing production on Eco-Riot, I came to understand that issues such as global warming are more than just an opinion of ethics and moral, but usually undermined by financial and political agendas. In many historical cases, these types of issues have caused an outbreak in violence and often civil and global wars.
Tell us about your career before you found film.
I moved to Los Angeles when I was 18 to attend CSU, Long Beach, where I studied Marketing but did not graduate.
Where did the concept come from for Eco Riot?
The concept for Eco-Riot is a thesis based on the Paris climate riots and LA ’92 riots. It was also inspired by a quote from Abraham Lincoln that I think still applies today with climate change: “We must nobly save, or meanly lose the last best hope for our planet.”
What music inspires you to create?
Jazz. Miles Davis and similar musicians.
Talk us through your creative process.
A lot of my creative work happens while I’m back in Michigan, where there’s peace and quiet. I usually sit outside somewhere by a stream, pool, jacuzzi, etc. with a notepad and then go inside to do more research after I’ve gathered my thoughts. This is repeated multiple times throughout a project.
What tips do you have for new filmmakers?
Have a purpose.
What part of filmmaking do you geek out about the most?
I’m a geek for good angles, good dialogue, witty humor, great acting and a final product that gets people thinking.
You’re very hands-on with your projects. How hard is it wearing all the hats?
Wearing all of the hats was especially tough for Eco-Riot. I wrote, directed, acted, produced, helped the camera man, set up all of the shots, and basically exhausted myself.
It was only a two-day shoot, but I broke my rib on the first night during one of the fight scenes because the other actor kneed me in the chest. I then spent an entire month learning and editing the film day and night on painkillers while sleeping on my friend’s floor. I will definitely delegate more of the work on my next project.
If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What’s your next project?
I’m currently working on a feature titled The Blood Poet, which we are currently seeking financing for. The project is a crime-drama similar to Narcos which intertwines human trafficking and the student debt crisis.
I wrote the screenplay a few months ago and it was touched up by Everette Wallin, who worked on Bones and Wedding Day. We currently have Suzanne Delaurentiis attached as the producer and Dale Fabrigar as the director.
Have you worked with mentors in the past? How would you recommend people go about finding them?
I’ve worked with many business mentors who I’ve sought out and met through various jobs or networks. I also studied under David Strasberg, the son of Lee Strasberg who has been very influential in my acting career.
I think the best way to find a mentor is to establish your goals and then identify three or four people in your field who you think you’d learn from most. Approach them and offer them something that would be valuable and make it worth their time to mentor you.
What has been your biggest failure?
Not being able to articulate my love and appreciation in the past for people I’ve cared about.
What’s your filmmaking mission? Name the most important thing you want viewers to experience when watching your movies.
As a filmmaker, I am given the power to bring truth and light to new perspectives in the world of ideas. I want my films to inspire viewers, question the conventional circuit, and act as philosophies in the way we live and breathe. The most important thing for my viewer to experience is an escape or catharsis.
What has been your biggest success?
My biggest success has been in crafting a lifestyle that allows me time and some financial freedom to work on my own projects independently.
Can we expect to see any episodic television from you anytime soon?
Yes, my next writing project will be a long form episodic, something in the realm of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game Of Thrones, or The Lord of the Rings.
What’s your five-year plan?
To keep making films with people who have the same vision and mission as myself. It’s my hope to add a new dimension to the world of entertainment and reach viewers in a deeper, more meaningful way.
What indie filmmakers should be on our radar?
Miles Joris-Peyrafitte is pretty talented. He has a new movie coming out with Margot Robbie that looks decent.
What’s your favorite film of all time, and what did you learn from it?
Touch of Evil by Orson Welles is my favorite film of all time. Or The Kid by Charlie Chaplin. Both films show talented renaissance filmmakers who could direct, act, and write a masterpiece. There is a lot to learn about creating your own independence as an artist in film from both of them.
Who would compose the soundtrack of your life?
Elvis, including “It’s Now or Never”, “Burning Love”, “Return to Sender”, “Teddy Bear”, “One Night of Sin” and “A Fool Such as I”