I was once told that mockumentaries are the hardest to direct, was that your experience? How did you approach Combat Nuns?
The mockumentary that you’re referring to is the first and second versions of Nuns, Combat Nuns In The Beginning Episodes 1 and 2. I created a back-story on the evolution of Nuns through history using stock footage from famous events: i.e. Nuns at the Alamo, at the Kennedy Assassination, serving with the Marines in WW2, etc. Then I wrote the script based on those images. Some true and some bullshit. actually, a lot of bullshit. I wanted to learn how to create using a green screen, so I studied the basics of the format and hired people smarter than me in that craft, to guide me thru the process. I designed Combat Nuns: In The Beginning as an old style, vintage newsreel, and had Nuns acting as if they were in those original photos and news clips using green screen. The rest was sitting in an editing room tying it all together with music and rewrites; a lot of cut and paste. You can see how I used a segment from that first version in one of the current movie trailers.
But, that wasn’t as much of a challenge as the latest version: Combat Nuns: All or Nothing. THAT was my greatest challenge in film directing. The main difference was I had so many elements happening at the same time: acting, camera angles, stunts etc. My first priority is safety, so every moment required my undivided attention. I felt like a Ringmaster in a circus! Regardless, my approach is always the same: to be organized. Preparation is the key to success.
How did you get involved in filmmaking?
I got involved in filmmaking while being on contract at Universal Studios, Hollywood performing stunts in the Wild, Wild West Stunt Show. I thought, why wait to be cast in an action movie, when I work with a lot of great stunt guys who can also act. So my first film The Seventh Man was conceived, cast and filmed with people I worked with at Universal. It did so well that it aired on Starz network, and I was on my way as a film director.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Pulp Fiction. I love how it’s constructed in such a nonlinear fashion!
You’re also an actor, how does that affect how you direct?
Depends who you ask! Since you’re asking me, I’ll say it’s a huge advantage to know how to get what you want from actors. You ask the actors, they may say I’m a pain in the ass.
What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
Geez, there are so many! For the sake of brevity, I’ll mention the ones that I apply to Combat Nuns. Monty Python’s Holy Grail, where violence can be fun. Animal House because it’s a sophomoric version of “us against them” mentality. And The Godfather because the stakes are so high.
It is said that there are only six stories. Maybe twelve. It’s all been done before. And we have seen it all. What do you do to keep it fresh? How do you keep it original?
By writing from my heart. There is only one Rick Williamson. I write through the filter of my life experiences and imagination. I know nothing else.
What advice would you give a film student about today’s industry?
Do you utilize social media with anything you may have in production?
As much as my peanut sized primate brain can handle. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc require constant input. It’s like dating a crack whore, they just can’t get enough.
What are some of the memorable moments in Combat Nuns?
Well, first off I have to say my wife, Regina relentlessly encouraging me to get this project shot, especially while we had Dot Marie Jones available. Regi guided me from the “I’m going to…” to the “I am doing!” phase. The moment of decision was pivotal
The 2nd was how miraculously things began to fall in place once we committed to the project. The bar we wanted to use for the arm wrestling scene was across the street from our sound stage. So many things gratefully slid into our laps like when Regi and I were standing outside our home after a late night movie, wondering where we were going to find a Director of Photography to shoot Nuns. (Our usual DP wasn’t available.) Suddenly, coming down the street on a bicycle was our neighbor, Eric Adkins. We asked him what he was doing up so late at night. Eric said that he was shooting a project in our neighborhood. “You’re a DP?” Regi asked. “Yep!” he replied. And our prayers were answered!
The 3rd and lastly, as we were filming the confessional scene, I had a moment to watch the crazy action around me and I started laughing at the absurdity of it all. And if I laugh, then hopefully you’ll laugh, too!
Check out the trailer on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CombatNuns/