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Interview – Charles Williams – ‘All These Creatures’ – A Short Film


Posted November 19, 2018 by

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Interview – Charles Williams – ‘All These Creatures’ – A Short Film

Director Charles Williams‘ Palme d’Or winning film All These Creatures shares the important story of a family dealing with mental illness and a son trying to understand it, This topical film won the Oscar-qualifying Cannes Film Festival, only the third Australian film in history to take the prize, as well as the Oscar-qualifying Melbourne International Film Festival. It had a North American premiere at TIFF and a UK premiere at Raindance Film Festival. It is continuing its successful festival run and it has been nominated for Best Short Fiction Film at Australia’s AACTA Awards.

An adolescent boy attempts to untangle his memories of a mysterious infestation, the unravelling of his father, and the little creatures inside us all.

Williams took the unusual approach of casting without bias toward race or gender, searching through some 400 young boys and girls to find the right soul to inhabit the complex lead role and then rewriting the film around it. When he uncovered twelve year old Yared Scott, who has Ethiopian Australian heritage, Williams took on four advisors from the local Ethiopian Australian community to ensure the story’s depiction was accurate and sensitive to their culture.

The diverse cast also includes Mandela Mathia who portrays the father in the story. Mandela was a refugee to Australia in 2009 and has now graduated NIDA, the country’s most prestigious acting school and brings an incredible depth and empathy to the volatile role.

Growing up in an impoverished environment where issues like mental illness were at the forefront of his experience, Williams says he has always been drawn to the issue of how we separate the person from the illness, and the illness from ourselves.

“With All These Creatures I wanted to immerse an audience in this story of someone trying to understand a parent and the damage caused – were they ‘bad’ or ill or a victim themselves –  and, in the process, questioning their own potentially unreliable experience of the world. Even if there are tragic consequences, can we have compassion for their struggle – and our own?”

Over the past decade Williams’ acclaimed films have screened and won awards at some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals including Claremont-Ferrand, Cannes, SXSW, Telluride and Toronto. He is currently developing the features Inside and The Buzzard.

All These Creatures was written and directed by Charles Williams and produced by Williams and Elise Trenorden. The film also features Helen Hailu and Winta and Melody Demessie as Isabella. Chiara Constanza created the beautiful music and the stunning 16mm cinematography by Adric Watson.

The Ceremony for the AACTA Awards will take place on December 3rd.

Interview – Charles Williams - ‘All These Creatures’


To begin with, tell us about your latest film ‘All These Creatures’…

The film tells the story of someone looking back on their father and trying to understand what he was as a full person. Whether he was a bad person, or a sick person, and look at these events that led to an inexplicable tragedy.

Where did the idea come from? How did you get involved with the film?

The film really came out of obsessions I’ve had for a long time which mostly stem from growing up in a kind of rough environment. I think it also comes from something we all do with our parents as we grow older and try to see them as people rather than these kind of myths that we have in our head. And I think if you have a parent that’s volatile or violent or even dangerous that becomes a more complex and a more necessary process.

Tell us about the cast, who is starring?

The leads of the film are Yared Scott, who plays Tempest, and Mandela Mathia, who plays his father Mal. Outside of these two, no one else in the film had any professional experience before, and Yared’s professional experience is really mostly limited to school productions.

Finding the cast was a very complex process, especially for Yared’s role.  It’s an essentially passive role and I knew that I needed a lot of very innate qualities which aren’t very common in someone so young.

I also knew I could rewrite the story around the right soul. I looked through around 400 kids; girls, boys, from any background. Once I found Yared, who was born in Ethiopia, I brought on four Ethiopian Australian advisors from the local community to make sure the script was accurate and sensitive to their culture.

What are your influences as a filmmaker?

I have a lot of filmmakers that have inspired me, too many to name.For this film though, I didn’t have any direct influences that I was really aware of, but looking back I can see elements of the Dardenne brothers, Terrance Malick, Andrei Tarkovsky and even a bit of Harmony Korine coming through.

Were there any significant issues throughout the films production? How did you overcome these difficulties?

There wasn’t much about making this film that wasn’t incredibly challenging. Almost everyone in the film has never been on camera before, most of the cast are under 15, we had a lot of locations (one of which was bulldozed to the ground just before shooting), plus animals, insects, shooting on film – and all without a budget. But I worked with some wonderful people.

What advice would you give any up-and-coming filmmakers, trying to crack the industry?

I don’t think you should concern yourself too much with this vague idea of  ‘the industry’. If you can connect to audiences, the industry will find you. The only way to really do that is to work as honestly and generously from your gut as possible. Try to make something that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up and hope for the best.

When and where can we expect to see ‘All These Creatures?

This week we’re screening in Denver Film Festival, Leeds, Geneva and Stockholm – but we have a lot more coming up so please check out the website and Facebook for upcoming screenings

What is the next step for you? Do you have any other films or projects in production?

I’m just finishing the latest draft of my feature film script Inside, which will likely be up next for me. It’s really exciting and lives in a similar territory to the short film, so it will be interesting to explore some of these ideas on a bigger canvas.


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