Today we’d like to introduce you to William Bagley.
Hi William, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
When I was little, I used to walk around with a notebook scribbling down what I thought looked like words. They weren’t, because I couldn’t even read at the time, but that didn’t stop me! My parents would ask what I was doing and I would respond: I’m writing a story. I would then proceed to read them my scribble story. Were they good? Probably not. Was it the beginning of my storytelling career? Absolutely!
My love for storytelling evolved into creating comics, manga (I was really cool when I was 12), animations, and then finally videos. I also found I had a passion for music and editing. So when it came time to pick a career, filmmaking was the obvious choice.
After college, I got an internship filming commercials for a local TV station. This was where I started to learn about the industry and how production works. I began to grow my network and started to freelance on all sorts of productions.
I worked my way up the ladder and by 2019, I was mainly working as a cinematographer and camera operator. While I enjoyed it, this was still mostly in the commercial/corporate world.
Something was nagging at me. I got into this business to be a film director. To make movies! While I had made a couple of shorts, I didn’t feel like a true “filmmaker.” I needed to make a feature length film.
I decided to give it a shot. I wrote my first feature length screenplay, The Murder Podcast. I assembled a cast and crew of my very talented friends, and in august of 2020, I directed my first feature film. I finally felt like a true filmmaker.
The Murder Podcast went on to play a bunch of festivals, win a couple of awards, and will officially be released later this year!
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
There have definitely been challenges along the way. Being a director is a constant struggle of uncertainty. Which path should I take? What is the best way to achieve my goals? How the heck do I finance this next movie!? But you can learn a lot from committing to something and finishing it.
In 2018, I made a short film that I thought was going to be the career launcher for me. I was so sure that once it came out, I would be directing big budget studio movies in no time! Well, that didn’t happen.
At the time, I saw the short as a massive failure. But after awhile, I was able to look back on the experience and learn from it. It actually taught me way more than my previous “successful” short. It taught me how to manage expectations, how to write for a budget, how to better work with cast and crew, how important it is to be true to yourself (and not try and replicate the Coen Brothers!).
That “failure” is the only reason I was able to write and then produce The Murder Podcast
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
If I could summarize the type of films I make in one word, it would be: fun. I like to make fun movies! If you finish watching something I’ve made and you enjoyed yourself; that’s a success to me.
Now, fun does not necessarily mean funny. While I love comedy, I also think horror movies are fun. Being scared is fun! Action movies are fun! White knuckle thrillers are fun! It’s fun when you connect with a character. And when you feel real emotions and get completely engulfed in the story.
When I watch a movie, I want to laugh, cheer, scream! And if the moment calls for it, cry, but I want the overall experience to be entertaining. These are the type of films I am trying to make.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
For anyone wanting to get into filmmaking, specifically directing, I recommend making as much stuff as you can. Make youtube videos, short films, docs, instagram videos, whatever! Then get on as many sets as you can and learn what each person does. Even better, work each position. Always be learning! And be nice to people (This is also how you network!).
But if you want to be a director, know that you have to have an insane drive. Everything in this business is going to try and make it extra hard for you to succeed. The short you think will launch your career, probably wont. The youtube video you want to go viral…probably wont. The feature film that will play at all the huge festivals…might just play a few.
But don’t worry. Keep pushing. Keep believing in yourself.
And then look back. You from five years ago is super impressed and a little jealous. You’re kicking butt!
Photos by John Paul Van Wert and Ben Griggs