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2014 Sundance “Trading Cards” Series: #12. Kelly Williams (Hellion)

Kelly Williams ProducerEric Lavallee: Name me three of your favorite “2013 discoveries”…
Kelly Williams: Ola Podrida’s album “Ghosts Go Blind”. The Documentary – Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay. Walt Roberts – Hellion & Parkland actor / World-Class Fiddle Player.

Lavallee: I believe that this is your third time producing a Kat Candler film (Hellion follows Hellion the short, and Black Metal). How did that professional relationship begin and could you discuss the creative dynamic between the two of you.
Williams: Even though we both live in Austin, we actually met through a mutual friend, Zack Phillips, at Sundance in 2001. We became friends over the years. In 2009, I programmed her short film, Love Bug, at the Austin Film Festival where I was a film programmer, but we didn’t actually work together until we made the Hellion short in the summer of 2011. Making that short, it became pretty obvious that we wanted to work together more. We started to develop the feature version about a month after wrapping the short and that’s when the relationship really began to form. Our dynamic is very supportive and complements each other in all stages of the creative process, which is good to have on those bad days when nothing is working right. We often refer to each other as our “work spouse.”

Lavallee: Could you detail some of the significant big breaks in the production timeline particularly the moment when Aaron Paul agreed to come aboard...
Williams: Aaron coming on board was definitely a big break for the film, it certainly got us to production, but going back almost a year before that was getting the support of the Sundance Institute. Being accepted to the Creative Producing Lab and having the project embraced by everyone there was really the thing that got the ball rolling. Being “outsiders” and based in Austin, it was the support we really needed to get the film made. After the film was shot, it was the additional support we got from the San Francisco Film Society and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation that helped us get to the finish line.

Lavallee: What was the most difficult production day from your standpoint?
Williams: For me personally, it was the day I got horrible food poisoning and had to miss shooting the beach scenes (note that I did not get sick from set food, my mom – who helped prepare all the meals – would be mad if I didn’t clarify that). Looking back, however, I think it was the day we shot the pee wee football scene. It was one of the only days the four lead actors were all together, it was over 100 degrees, we had two football teams of ten year olds and about 100 extras. There were a lot of moving parts, but I have say, the people of Southeast Texas who turned out to be in the film were amazing and if they had not been so supportive and helpful, that day would have been a lot tougher.

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2014 Sundance "Trading Cards" Series: #12. Kelly Williams (Hellion)

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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