BIll Cornelius is a writer, director, editor, director of photography, and owner of Lavorsia Pictures Entertainment. (www.Lavorsia.com)
My coffee beverage for Mr. Cornelius is: Starbucks Caramel Macchiato. Because even though he is a serious man…there is still a little boy that likes sweet things.
What was the moment when you knew that you wanted to be a filmmaker?
I was 8 years old. Growing up my parents had basic cable and HBO, and in the 80s movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and E.T. would show on HBO.That was my first introduction to how magical the world of movies and storytelling was. At age eight I decided to borrow my parent’s big VHS video camera to see if I could tell my own stories and produce that same magic. Immediately it was like a drug. There was Instant satisfaction at being able to tell a story and pull so many elements together. Then to share that end product with people and see their faces react. It was very exciting. I was hooked.
Which filmmakers have influenced you most?
Throughout my career it has been Steven Spielberg. Even the animated stuff that he did with Don Bluth like American Tale, and The Land Before Time. Bluth is someone that has had a great imapct on me and its a shame that he hasn’t made a film since 2000 because he can’t get funding. People don’t give him enough credit. I was also influenced by the early works of Robert Zemeckis and how he would take ordinary people and put them in extraordinary and imaginative circumstances. Some contemporary influences would be Christopher Nolan and J.J Abrams.
What is the first thing about a film that you notice and are drawn to?
The music. A lot of filmmakers can’t watch a movie without analyzing everything. But for some reason I can watch something and suspend all my criticisms and just enjoy it. I don’t like picking a film a part. But I love when directors use music effectively. For example when they assign themes or motifs to different characters. It can either suck me right in or it can push me away. If there is a perfect marriage between the visual and the music it creates a beautiful film. It affects people deeper than they realize.
What filmmaker and film would you say uses music most effectively?
Steven Spielberg is the master of this. His incredible collaboration with John Williams is something that I’m envious of. The perfect example of this is E.T. The score works so perfectly with that film that its…its amazing and beautiful. Spielberg and Williams approach the scoring perfectly in sync. I want to meet a composer that I can have that same approach and relationship with.
What motivates you to be a filmmaker and artist?
My main motivating factor is to reach people in a positive way. I told my mom recently that the moment that I know I’ve “made it” as a filmmaker is the moment that someone from the next generation comes up to me and tells me that they are doing what they want to do because of my work. Thats what drives me to keep creating.
What has been the hardest part of your journey as a filmmaker?
My first few years out of film school. It was such a struggle. I had no demo real and it was really hard to get work. I had to do projects and commercials that I never want people to see. I would never even admit to doing them.
For you, what is the most difficult hurdle as a filmmaker?
Getting financing for projects. I can come up with a million ideas but the challenge is getting them funded. My perfect world is to have financing appear out of nowhere. But on a serious note, I don’t ever let money stop me from making the films I want. Oftentimes I just go broke investing my own money into making projects a reality.
What “hat” or role do you most enjoy wearing and doing?
Its hard to choose just one, so I’ll choose two: Director and Writer. Maybe director barely winning out.
What stage of the filmmaking process is your favorite?
Thats tough because each part has its own enjoyable and non-enjoyable elements. But I love the production process. Seeing everything unfold and figuring out how to toggle the many elements is amazing. And if I had to choose something within production it would have to be the camera and lighting component. I am an extremely visual artist and when I see the shadows, color and lighting coming together to tell the story I get very excited. Its like looking at a book with pictures and just getting excited about the pictures.
If you had unlimited time and budget, and had no consequences to reputation or career what film would you make?
The feature length version of my short film Lavorsia. Not only is it a personal story; its a stylish, interesting and engaging story that I’ve always wanted to tell in the proper way. Movies are like meals. If I don’t feel like I’ve been satisfied like a good meal at the end of a movie I feel bad. I like to make films that are like a full, satisfying meal. Lavorsia is a film that would be like that. With a dessert at the end.
What would you consider your style of filmmaking?
Some filmmakers have a very distinct style. For example, people see Tim Burton’s films and they immediately know that its him. And sometimes it feels like directors try forcing a style. I have always had a battle within me between styles. On one hand I have a very warm, imaginative, 80s filmmaking style. On the other side I have a darker, bluer, almost MTVish style. So its a constant battle between those two. I am getting closer to fusing them together to make something though.
What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?
Go to film school. Film school allows you to make mistakes and learn how to do and not do things in a way that the real world doesn’t give grace for. Have a passion for what you do. Don’t be pessimistic and negative about yourself and your work. Its a long, hard road and optimism and hope is what will carry you through.
What coffee drink is your drink of choice?
I don’t drink coffee. How about lemonade?