Bill Cornelius Episode Summary
In our first episode we meet our co-host Bill Cornelius. We talk about making films at 8 years old, learn a little about what it’s like going to film school, and Bill shares what it was like working on set with Billy Bob Thornton.
Bill Cornelius Episode Notes
Bill’s Lighting Round Answers:
- Favorite Movie – ET
- Last Movie You Watched – Mission Impossible
- Favorite Director – Steven Spielberg
- Most Underrated Cinematographer – Dean Cundey & Allen Daviau
- Coffee or Tea – Tea
- Pineapple on Pizza – Indifferent
- Favorite Camera – Panasonic HPX170
- Three Films to Watch Before You Die – Faust (1926) / Close Encounters of the Third Kind / The Secret of NIMH
Bill Cornelius Links
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Get In Touch
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Bill Cornelius Transcript
Corey Allen: 00:01 Hi, I’m Corey.
Bill Cornelius: 00:02 I’m Bill.
Corey Allen: 00:03 Welcome to the In Focus Podcast. Today, I am joined by my cohost Bill Cornelius, Emmy nominated director and cinematographer. Welcome to the show.
Bill Cornelius: 00:13 Thank you for having me on this show that I’m co-hosting.
Corey Allen: 00:17 It’s so great that you’re here, and I’m glad you mentioned that you know, the purpose of this first episode is to let the listeners get to know a little bit more about you about myself. We’ll probably do a similar interview with me in the coming weeks, but I thought it would be good to let everybody know like who the host is, who the hosts are.
Bill Cornelius: 00:38 Who are these people?
Corey Allen: 00:39 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 00:39 Why should I listen? Well, one because it’s awesome, and we’re awesome.
Corey Allen: 00:45 That’s true.
Bill Cornelius: 00:45 But we’re going to tell you why we’re awesome. Yes.
Corey Allen: 00:48 You know, I think the intent behind the In focus Podcast, do I think it’ll be important, like it’ll come up through the interview as well, but this is definitely not just another quarantine podcast, right?
Bill Cornelius: 01:02 No, this is something we’ve been talking about pre-COVID.
Corey Allen: 01:07 Yeah, and you know, we both had great ideas, but maybe not really the drive to pull it all together all at once.
Bill Cornelius: 01:17 For me, it was like, I’ve wanted a good podcast I can listen to and I can’t find anything. So, I thought maybe I’ll just make what I want to listen to. I mean, that’s really what it comes down to.
Corey Allen: 01:30 Yeah, and I think this will be a great opportunity too for us to talk to other creatives like ourselves, directors, cinematographers. There are a lot of great people just around town locally before we even think about like a broader audience for sure.
Bill Cornelius: 01:45 Absolutely. Yeah.
Corey Allen: 01:46 All right. Well, let’s get into a little about you Bill. How about it?
Bill Cornelius: 01:49 I’m ready. What do we want to know about me?
Corey Allen: 01:53 Bill, let’s start with maybe, you know, what’s your earliest filmmaking memory?
Bill Cornelius: 01:58 My earliest filmmaking memory. So, I’ve been interested in films since I was eight years old, and this was not to age myself, this was during the VHS days.
Corey Allen: 02:10 Really.
Bill Cornelius: 02:10 So it came down to borrowing the family VHS, you know, video camera, which was this enormous Philco, it was called a movie camera, you know, it was for filming Christmas.
Corey Allen: 02:25 Sounds very legit.
Bill Cornelius: 02:26 Yeah. Very legit. Well, I thought so when I was eight, so that was my earliest memory, and I’ve had the bug ever since.
Corey Allen: 02:34 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 02:35 It was just fun.
Corey Allen: 02:36 With your movie camera.
Bill Cornelius: 02:38 Yes.
Corey Allen: 02:38 Do you remember the first thing you ever shot?
Bill Cornelius: 02:41 I don’t remember the very first thing before the video camera. I had a tape recorder and I used to do little audio stories and I’d make my own sound effects.
Corey Allen: 02:53 So, you were like you were a podcaster before podcasts were even a thing.
Bill Cornelius: 02:56 Yes, I was at five, and so you know, it was just kind of a natural progression. It’s this need for storytelling, and there was something about video, the visual medium, and to be able to, I would film everything in my bedroom, and so I would just dress my bedroom to be a cave or a Tavern or an office.
Corey Allen: 03:23 Right.
Bill Cornelius: 03:23 You know, just in the rudimentary way that I could when I was a child and I’d have my friends come over and I would subject them to being part of this venture I was exploring, and, you know, I would assign them their role. I’d be like, hey so Ryan, you’re playing a thief today, and he’s like, but I don’t want to play the thief. I want to do something else. I want to play video games. Well, we’ll do that after we shoot this scene where you’re the thief.
Corey Allen: 03:54 Unseen extras.
Bill Cornelius: 03:55 Yes.
Corey Allen: 03:55 At an early age.
Bill Cornelius: 03:55 So it was, you know, a lot of stuff like that, and of course my sister was always the token female. It was like, hi, can you play princess Zelda in this Legend of Zelda thing I’m doing. Okay, and she was like five, so. Yeah.
Corey Allen: 04:12 That’s perfect. That’s great. So, at the age of eight, already into the creative process and we know we haven’t talked about it yet on the podcast, but you did eventually end up in film school. Right?
Bill Cornelius: 04:24 I did.
Corey Allen: 04:24 So when did you know film school was going to be that path for you?
Bill Cornelius: 04:28 I know early on when I was a kid, I didn’t know, film school was a thing. I didn’t think it existed. I used to watch, what was it called? Movie Magic that was on like the Discovery Channel or something when I was a kid, and just like, that was the only way you could consume behind the scenes stuff back then.
Corey Allen: 04:44 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 04:44 That was a pre DVD special features and that sort of thing.
Corey Allen: 04:49 Yeah. Side note, like definitely the one thing I miss about physical content is the behind the scenes features.
Bill Cornelius: 04:56 Oh yeah. Yeah, and I still like the commentary and all that sort of thing.
Corey Allen: 05:00 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 05:00 So when I got into high school it was all like MTV used to do making the video where they would…
Corey Allen: 05:08 I love those.
Bill Cornelius: 05:09 Yeah, and it was just this behind the scenes look of this music video being made and then the final product, and I ate that stuff up, and so probably middle school or high school is when I first started learning that film school existed, and it wasn’t just in LA which obviously right, and so yeah, then I was like, absolutely, I’m going to apply to film school wherever I can find it and see what happens because I didn’t want to waste any time in college, not focusing on the thing I want to focus on.
Corey Allen: 05:46 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 05:46 That’s so awesome.
Corey Allen: 05:47 Now, when I think about film school in my mind, I see like classrooms full of kids just studying like more fine arts and the history of film as an art form than like practical application where like today you can learn how to do so many things on YouTube or, you know, other avenues. So, like, is that accurate or like am I way off base there?
Bill Cornelius: 06:10 Yeah. I mean, that’s pretty accurate because I did get a Bachelor of Fine Arts. So, in order to do that, you have to meet certain requirements, and that is more, you know, a lot of classroom-based stuff. I had to take some fine arts classes which fortunately I’ve been drawing since I was two years old.
So, it was like, I had a little bit of a foundation in visual art. I had to do a lot of that, I had to do a lot of film history class. I had to watch a lot of stuff that I was not into and critique it and a lot of cynicism and pretentiousness and it’s stuff that quite honestly looking back, I get it from a bachelor’s degree standpoint, but that’s not where I actually learned the knowledge that I needed, that then came on student’s shoots where we would actually do the thing.
Corey Allen: 07:06 Right.
Bill Cornelius: 07:06 Where it would be hands-on with the cameras and the lighting and delegating with crew positions and that sort of thing. That’s when we really got in and we could really be allowed to screw up and have little successes here and there and…
Corey Allen: 07:20 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 07:21 Work with each other.
Corey Allen: 07:22 Yeah. That was going to be my next question. So, like the number of films that you create when you’re in film school, student films, is that like one a semester, one a year? What is that?
Bill Cornelius: 07:32 It was, I’m trying to think, because it’s been a long time. Initially, I think it wasn’t until my second semester that I actually made a film. So that first semester was kind of this build up to making a film where we just had to take these different types of production classes and screenwriting and that sort of thing. It’s all the stuff that, you know, a lot of people in the industry kind of make fun of film school.
Corey Allen: 08:00 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 08:00 Think it’s a waste of time, this and that, and you know, I get where they’re coming from, but I also disagree because it did allow me to make some mistakes on set that would probably not fly in the real world. So, you know, there was a lot of that when I finally did get to doing the student shoots, which was, I think once a semester, if I recall correctly.
Corey Allen: 08:25 Okay, but I mean, you guys would take that from like pre-production, like writing the screenplay all the way through to post-production, right?
Bill Cornelius: 08:34 Yeah, and that was extremely valuable because that’s not something you can learn showing up as a PA knowing absolutely nothing. You’re not going to learn the entire process from beginning to end.
Corey Allen: 08:47 Yeah. So, if nothing else, like again, not that I’m a film school hater would discredit the investment by any means, but what’d you say like the practical application time that you spent was more valuable to you than like the classroom style?
Bill Cornelius: 09:06 Absolutely.
Corey Allen: 09:07 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 09:07 Yeah. Without a question, and again, it was a lot of making mistakes and it allows you to make mistakes because you’re not being paid. You know, you’re not a professional, it’s a sandbox, so to speak or you’re safe to accidentally not feed your crew and, you know, different things that you would definitely catch flack for in the professional world and word would get out.
Corey Allen: 09:37 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 09:37 So it let me learn the hard way in a lot of ways what to do, what not to do, and I had the freedom to do that without being blackballed by the professional world.
Corey Allen: 09:49 Right.
Bill Cornelius: 09:49 It was just students gossiping about me.
Corey Allen: 09:52 Yeah, and is there, like a final, big project? That’s a part of, like, you have to produce this one final film as part of like a graduation, like a thesis film similar to that.
Bill Cornelius: 10:07 Yes. So, it was called The Production Four. I went to the Watkins Film School, by the way.
Corey Allen: 10:14 Rest in peace.
Bill Cornelius: 10:15 May he rest in peace. Belmont owns it now. We had a production four film, which was like our senior film, our thesis film final semester, everything led to this kind of thing, apply all the knowledge over the last four years, and I made one called Lavorsia that actually went on to win some stuff at festivals beyond film school.
Corey Allen: 10:41 I remember that one.
Bill Cornelius: 10:42 Yeah. I think you did see that one, and I’m still pretty proud of that film. It doesn’t hold up like it used. It’s looking its age more and more every day. That was in 2005. So that was back when the DVX100 had first come out.
Corey Allen: 11:01 Panasonic. Okay.
Bill Cornelius: 11:01 So, 24p was like the big thing that everybody was raving about.
Corey Allen: 11:06 That was the hotness.
Corey Allen: 11:07 Oh yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 11:07 At the time. 24p and, oh my gosh, it looks like cinema. You know, we look at this now and it’s like, yeah, it looks like simulated, whatever you want to call it. Nobody shoots on that anymore, but at the time it was great, and it does not hold up these days.
Corey Allen: 11:26 Yeah. That’s okay. So, this thesis project, or this production four, does every student that’s in the class, everyone is like a director for their own, or everyone works on the same project and you’re assigned different roles. How does that work?
Bill Cornelius: 11:42 I think again, it’s been a while, but I think by the time we reached production four, we concentrated more on our focus. My focus was directing, but, you know, there was some people in class, their focus was cinematography, screenwriting, editing, that sort of thing. My focus was directing, but I also, I had the kind of luxury to write my own script. They didn’t want me to the film faculty, but I did it anyway because whatever. I didn’t listen well.
Corey Allen: 12:17 So, what would be the other option then if you didn’t write your own screenplay that you were going to direct?
Bill Cornelius: 12:23 I would have somebody else write it. Somebody whose focus was screenwriting.
Corey Allen: 12:27 Okay.
Bill Cornelius: 12:27 Which the faculty encouraged me to do much to my displeasure, and I remember pushing back on them and I was like, no, I’m going to write my own film. You leave me alone, you get off my back and I remember my film instructor came to me in like a one-on-one setting and was like, Bill, we’re going to let you write it, but make sure it’s good, okay?
Corey Allen: 12:51 Typical director.
Bill Cornelius: 12:54 So, you know, my attitude is if somebody doesn’t think I’m going to do a thing right or do it well, it becomes my mission then to show them up, and so that is exactly what I did and I succeeded.
Corey Allen: 13:08 Nice. That’s awesome.
Bill Cornelius: 13:11 So I felt pretty good about walking away from film school with my sunglasses on in slow motion after that.
Corey Allen: 13:19 Was there an explosion behind you as well, like?
Bill Cornelius: 13:21 Yes.
Corey Allen: 13:22 Perfect. Cinematography gold.
Bill Cornelius: 13:25 Yeah.
Corey Allen: 13:25 All right. So fast forward to today, you run Halangarde Pictures. Tell us a little bit about what that entails?
Bill Cornelius: 13:32 So that’s my independent production company, do a lot of different work around town, a lot of music videos, a lot of stuff in the advertising world, such as commercials, and also working on short films. I had a feature length documentary called, Hear Me Now about bullying that got distribution back in 2017 and it’s on Prime Video now. Amazon Prime, go check it out.
Corey Allen: 14:00 Nice. We’ll link to that in the show notes. So, tell us a little more about that, Hear Me Now like what inspired that, and then what led up to the initial production?
Bill Cornelius: 14:09 I’m not what you would say, a documentarian. That’s not really my focus. I like to make shit up, as I tell people. My thing was always, if I am going to do a documentary, it’s going to be about bullying because that is something that I went through when I was in middle school. I had moved from Kentucky to the Chicago area, and so I had an accent and you can imagine where things went from there. So that was always kind of the one documentary I was going to do, and so I embarked on that in 2011. It was a very long for us. I learned a lot of things such as patience and probably that it’s not a good idea to self-fund a film, especially when it goes on for a number of years.
Corey Allen: 14:58 Right.
Bill Cornelius: 14:59 So we eventually, we wrapped in 2015 and then post-production was like, it was almost another year, and then we released it at the Belcourt in Nashville.
Corey Allen: 15:11 Oh, cool.
Bill Cornelius: 15:12 Then we awesomely got like four distribution offers, just kind of…
Corey Allen: 15:18 So cool.
Bill Cornelius: 15:18 One after another, and you know, we of course picked the one that raked us over the coals less because that’s what you do in the distribution world. Remember that kid’s distribution is about deciding, how much you want to sign away.
Corey Allen: 15:35 I mean, there’s definitely benefits to a distribution deal.
Bill Cornelius: 15:38 Yeah. Definitely benefits, but you also have to be very careful.
Corey Allen: 15:44 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 15:44 We actually signed with a great distributor, and we were very fortunate in that way.
Corey Allen: 15:50 Yeah. That’s great, and so other than the documentary, obviously, you mentioned you’ve done a lot of work around town on music videos. I know you’ve done a lot of commercial work.
Bill Cornelius: 16:00 Yeah.
Corey Allen: 16:00 Maybe music videos. Is there any artist in particular that comes to mind, that’s just been so great to work with?
Bill Cornelius: 16:09 I would say, I’ve been pretty lucky. There was one band they’re no longer together called The Opposed that I first worked with in 2007, I think, or no, 2009. It’s a blur. My career is a blur at this point, yeah, but they were just so easy going easy to work with, liked the music personally because sometimes you don’t like music so much that you’re doing the video for. So, it was easier for me to come up with ideas because I actually enjoyed listening to their music on my own time.
Corey Allen: 16:45 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 16:45 I did I think three or four videos for them. What was kind of left of their band, did an original song for Hear Me Now actually that’s in the end credits and on Spotify and that sort of thing called Hear Me Now.
Corey Allen: 16:58 Nice.
Bill Cornelius: 16:59 Yeah, I’ve had the good fortune of working with some pretty great artists. I know the noteworthy one is Billy Bob Thornton and his band, The Boxmasters.
Corey Allen: 17:09 Really.
Bill Cornelius: 17:09 Back in 2015, we did a video with him and Mark Collie. That was a great experience. Just working with an, a list Academy Award winning actor and his band. He couldn’t be nicer.
Corey Allen: 17:23 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 17:23 He’s just the nicest dude ever. He did come up and quiz me on how I was going to light a scene at one point, and I just remember being like, there has been no point in my career or in film school when I have been put on the spot like this, and I just like immediately was like, well Billy I’m going to put some lights up here and we’re going to have it angled down this way, where we get a little bit of shadow from the blinds and then it’s going to have a nice little spill over seats in the auditorium, and then I paused and he just goes, great. Then he just walked away and had a cigarette, and so there, it was.
Corey Allen: 17:58 That sounds like a seal of approval.
Bill Cornelius: 18:00 Yes. So, no pressure.
Corey Allen: 18:03 All right. That’s great. Along with running Halangarde Pictures, you also run a corporate studio producing video content. What’s that like?
Bill Cornelius: 18:13 Yeah, so my day job is creating video content for the healthcare industry, and so I actually run a small studio where all of that stuff is created and it’s a lot of there’s a lot of travel involved sometimes, pre-corona and hopefully post-corona as well, and a lot of teleprompter work. I’d say the biggest challenge with that type of video content is I work with a lot of people that are healthcare professionals. They’re not like hosts or actors or anything like that. How can I get the best performance out of somebody in a suit and tie who’s not normally in front of the camera.
Corey Allen: 18:56 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 18:57 So. I’d say that’s kind of how I flex that directing muscle is like keeping them relaxed, coaching them, getting the best read I can get out of these people.
Corey Allen: 19:09 In that world, do you also get the opportunity to flex the creative muscle or is it really just like clean cut three point lighting, super boring interview type stuff?
Bill Cornelius: 19:20 It depends on the project. I’ve been lucky that the company that I work with has been open to a lot of Wilder ideas.
Corey Allen: 19:29 Like what?
Bill Cornelius: 19:32 Like maybe an MTV cribs parody.
Corey Allen: 19:35 Nice.
Bill Cornelius: 19:35 It’s one of those luxuries where you’re not told no very often. Yeah, and there’s a snowball effect to that because, then you come up with even more crazy ideas and you’re like, well, what if we did this weird science eighties thing to talk about MPS scores and you know, the most dry stuff you can imagine, like corporate dry. We’ve all had jobs where we had to watch the training videos for the…
Corey Allen: 20:08 Oh, yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 20:08 Come down from corporate, and they’re always very bland and boring, and I was like, I am going to change that. I’m going to change the narrative on that, and so I kind of went in and of course they’ve been a big hit and you know, it’s a corporate content that people actually want to watch, which is rare.
Corey Allen: 20:29 Yeah. That’s so great. So that’s what we do in that studio.
Corey Allen: 20:32 It’s great that like you’re able to your point continue to keep that muscle sharp, I guess I know how much you love Zoom videos and like virtual production.
Bill Cornelius: 20:48 Yeah. I will say about COVID obviously I’ve not been able to work on set a lot if at all like many of us, but the good news is I have been able to direct via Zoom, which is very unnatural for me. I’m the kind of person that like, I’m up and moving about when I direct, you can give me a director’s chair, but no one will be sitting in it. Like I’m on my feet. I like to be up in it.
Corey Allen: 21:17 Yep.
Bill Cornelius: 21:17 In the action, you know, I will act out full scenes just because I just like get real into the vision, and so when I have to do this remotely from my house in front of a laptop, it is like having your hands tied and being blindfolded and directing, and it was very unnatural for me for a lot of 2020. It was just kind of stumbling through where I’m essentially directing people that are also at home, people that are not professionals, people that it’s like, can you please adjust your lamp?
So, your face is lit a little better and you know, again, it kind of goes back to directing people in the healthcare industry that aren’t used to performing. It’s flexing that muscle is challenging me as a director to work outside my comfort zone and push a little harder to get what I need to get. It’s been a good challenge. I would say. I will be happy to be on set again when it happens again.
Corey Allen: 22:23 There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I hear like you’ll be back in the studio part-time here very soon.
Bill Cornelius: 22:29 Very soon. Yeah. Looking very forward to dusting the cobwebs off of all of the gear in the studio.
Corey Allen: 22:36 Nice. All right. What advice would you give someone that wants to pursue a career similar to yours?
Bill Cornelius: 22:42 Make sure you really want it, like really, really want it, because it’s difficult. It’s very, very difficult and not everybody can do it, and you have to, in a sense, be a glutton for punishment. I speak to film students every now and then, and this is always what I tell them. I’m just like, you have to really want it because it is not easy.
Corey Allen: 23:03 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 23:03 Nobody’s going to give you a handout in this industry. You’re going to run into a lot of rejection and a lot of stuff you don’t like, and you’re going to have to do some freebies to put some stuff on your resume and maybe some paycheck gigs that you don’t tell anybody about, but that’s just the reality of it, and you have to be ready to deal with it and charge into it, head on, and there’ll be a lot of disheartening moments, but if you really want it, if you’re hungry for it, you’ll make it if you just push on.
Corey Allen: 23:33 I think the other thing that is interesting in what you’ve kind of figured out is this balance between both your own production company and a like typical Monday through Friday gig that kind of coincide together, creatively at least.
Bill Cornelius: 23:49 It’s almost like agency work.
Corey Allen: 23:51 Essentially it is.
Bill Cornelius: 23:52 It’s possible to do both. Living on freelance alone is a tough road. Going back to how challenging things can be freelance work is a lot like the weather. Sometimes you’ll get it constantly to a point where you’re turning stuff down and sometimes you will go months without something. That’s all you’re living on. That’s a very unpredictable way to live, and so I did that for a few years and I decided I wanted money. Like more steady money.
Corey Allen: 24:24 Right.
Bill Cornelius: 24:24 I should say, and health insurance. I was very fortunate to get this gig where I’m running the studio and I’m, yes, it’s probably not the most sexy work all the time, but I’m doing video work and I’m getting paid regularly to do it, and it’s a good gig, and it’s something that exists out there more and more.
If you just go on LinkedIn, you’ll see just video producers and editors and things that just regular companies are looking for more and more because as contents moving more digital to social media and things like that, people are looking for big companies looking for video content creation, and they’re looking for people like you who have the skills to edit or have the skills to shoot or whatever it might be. There’s no shame in taking those gigs because you’re going to have a roof over your head.
Corey Allen: 25:20 Right.
Bill Cornelius: 25:21 You’re still going to be able to do the quote unquote sexy work because I still can, and it’s a good place to be in and it is possible. You just have to look and work for it.
Corey Allen: 25:35 Yeah, that’s great. Let’s get vulnerable for a minute. What’s been your biggest failure as a director.
Bill Cornelius: 25:43 Every other film I made when I was in my twenties. I tried to do a lot of shorts in my twenties because that was the time that I called the struggle.
Corey Allen: 25:55 Wow.
Bill Cornelius: 25:55 That’s something they don’t quite prepare you for in film school or really anywhere is that this is not an easy business to break into, and it was especially hard back when I first got out of college because Nashville was not the Nashville currently is, it was still kind of pre growth explosion. So, there wasn’t quite as much work as there is now. There just wasn’t anything happening. I tried to do my own work because you got to feed the addiction. You know, my addiction is shooting things. So, what do I do? I get really impatient and I go after and try to make these little short films with the little to no money that I have in my pocket at the time…
Corey Allen: 26:41 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 26:41 From working retail and call centers and that sort of thing, and cobbled together, these kind of half-ass cutting corners, little short films that I did a few of them in my twenties and, and you know what, they’re not that great. They’re really not. I mean, it’s a testament to how patience is a virtue and you don’t cut corners and you try to get a budget together so you can get the resources you need to execute it properly, but I was just, I had to feed the need to shoot. I had to feed that need and I had to flex that creative muscle at the time.
Corey Allen: 27:19 I think that’s important too. Like even whether it’s for paid projects or unpaid projects, like just getting out and just shooting, just creating something to your point, like keeps that muscle fresh, keeps the creativity like constantly evolving. It keeps you sharp for sure.
Bill Cornelius: 27:37 Even if it’s not good and you know, it’s true, And at the time I would be embarrassed and I’d be like, you know what? This didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, and I would be in denial about it because I had kind of an ego in my twenties and I was like, I’m really good at this. I’ve been doing it since I was eight. Nobody’s going to know I’m making a crappy, short film. Yeah, but I was, because I was scratching that itch.
Corey Allen: 28:05 Right.
Bill Cornelius: 28:05 That’s all it was, just an exercise and doing, and the older I get, the more I’m like, you know, that’s important. We need to do that too. It keeps us sharp. Like you said, it’s practice. It doesn’t have to be, you know, award-winning caliber stuff, you’re doing it, you know? That’s more than you can say for a lot of people. It honestly is because I’ve come across more than enough people that talk about it, talk about doing.
Corey Allen: 28:35 Right.
Bill Cornelius: 28:35 I never actually do anything.
Corey Allen: 28:37 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 28:38 So even if it sucks, at least you’re doing it.
Corey Allen: 28:40 Just make something.
Bill Cornelius: 28:42 Yeah.
Corey Allen: 28:42 Just go out there and shoot it. Are any of those bombs available on YouTube? I can go check out.
Bill Cornelius: 28:48 They’re not actually. I made sure they don’t exist on YouTube.
Corey Allen: 28:53 I think I might have ones are out there. I’m going to have a DVD copy of one of your shorts. I don’t know if you would consider it a bomb.
Bill Cornelius: 28:59 You might possibly.
Corey Allen: 29:02 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 29:02 I think there’s a few lingering out there and I’m trying to think of which, I think I have a DVD copy on my computer.
Corey Allen: 29:10 That is one of the bombs.
Bill Cornelius: 29:11 That’s a bomb?
Corey Allen: 29:12 Oh yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 29:13 There’s like two people that think it’s fantastic which hats off to them. Thank you. If you’re listening out there, I appreciate it, but that film’s really funny because I did that one when I was 23. So, I was fresh out of college. I had to move back home with my mom because I had no money. I had no hookups in the industry I had nothing on my resume. It was a very depressing time and I had to do something, right. I had to film something.
I had to make something. So that was like a really terrible script I wrote when I was in high school and I kind of refined it a little bit. Didn’t improve it much, and I remember being in the shower the night or the morning before the first day of shooting, thinking to myself, I don’t think this is going to be good, but I already had these people, these friends of mine commit to it…
Corey Allen: 30:13 Right.
Bill Cornelius: 30:13 To shoot it that weekend. So, I kind of didn’t listen to my inner voice, and I went ahead and did it, and it was just kind of a sloppy mess, but I had another learning experience in the can.
Corey Allen: 30:26 I think it’s great, just because yes, you did it.
Bill Cornelius: 30:29 Yeah.
Corey Allen: 30:29 It’s out there. It’s in the world.
Bill Cornelius: 30:30 Yeah.
Corey Allen: 30:31 Great job.
Bill Cornelius: 30:32 Thank you.
Corey Allen: 30:33 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 30:33 I learned. A big learning through those failures is having patience like giving yourself a little grace, right, and what kind of forced me into having patience was the five to six years I worked on Hear Me Now, as mentioned earlier, and just like the marathon that was because anybody knows who’s worked on a film, especially somebody who’s directing and also sometimes shooting is that it’s a slog.
Sometimes it takes a lot out of you and if you’re working on a film for multiple years that’ll teach you a lot of things about patience, and so I learned a great deal about patience with Hear Me Now, and the first thing I shot post Hear Me Now was a book trailer for random house author Brooks Benjamin his book, My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights. I did a trailer for it, and took my time with it, had a budget allocated that budget properly brought the right resources on board. That is why I have an Emmy nomination for directing now because of that advertisement.
Corey Allen: 31:46 Nice and so cool.
Bill Cornelius: 31:48 Yeah. and so, it’s kind of the whole payoff of patience really does benefit you, not cutting corners, having the right resources in place. It benefits you a lot in this business.
Corey Allen: 32:03 Yeah. Do you have any personal projects you’re currently working on maybe like in pre-production?
Bill Cornelius: 32:08 Yeah. So, I’m in pre-production right now on a short film called The Darken Bliss. Which Corey, I do believe you are a part of the team.
Corey Allen: 32:18 I am. Yes.
Bill Cornelius: 32:20 That is something that’s in pre-production right now. I’m going to launch a crowdfunding campaign for it a little later in the spring and raise some money to get it off the ground.
Corey Allen: 32:30 Nice. Can you tell us anything about the story at all or is that super under wraps?
Bill Cornelius: 32:36 It’s not too under wraps. It’s a vampire film to put it simply.
Corey Allen: 32:40 Okay.
Bill Cornelius: 32:40 It’s in Nashville, so it involves musicians in the music industry a mesh of the Nashville experience with vampires.
Corey Allen: 32:51 Okay.
Bill Cornelius: 32:53 Funny story, it was pitched to a big studio out in Hollywood, the concept was at least a couple of years ago and got their interest. They didn’t go for the script because I was still kind of in the early stages of writing it, but it was a fly by the seat of your pants kind of thing, but it was kind of cool to be like, okay, well I got someone’s attention out there, and I got a rejection essentially, which is a rite of passage. I’ll take it.
Corey Allen: 33:21 Yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 33:21 I celebrated that honestly.
Corey Allen: 33:23 Yeah. That’s great. Sounds super interesting. First of all, I can’t wait to be a part of the crew and the production, but just the story in general is super intriguing. What I know of it, and I’ve had the opportunity to give the script a read, so.
Bill Cornelius: 33:38 Yeah.
Corey Allen: 33:38 I think it should be super exciting.
Bill Cornelius: 33:40 I’m looking forward to it.
Corey Allen: 33:42 All right, before we wrap up today, I want to put you through the lightning round. So, I have a handful of questions that I feel like we’ve gotten to know you quite a bit over the last 30, 35 minutes, but these, I think these will be great questions. Good insight into Bill, so are you ready?
Bill Cornelius: 34:03 I’m ready.
Corey Allen: 34:04 All right. What is your all-time favorite movie? E.T.
Corey Allen: 34:07 E.T. Okay. The last movie you watched?
Bill Cornelius: 34:11 The first Mission Impossible.
Corey Allen: 34:14 Okay. All right.
Bill Cornelius: 34:15 Yeah. Your favorite director?
Corey Allen: 34:18 Steven Spielberg, and side note. I took a lot of flack for that in college because obviously the household name, everybody knows I liked him when I was a little kid. Get off my back. Get all the way off my back.
Bill Cornelius: 34:30 Don’t at me about liking Steven Spielberg.
Corey Allen: 34:34 Nice. Okay. Most underrated or slept on cinematographer?
Bill Cornelius: 34:39 So that’s going to be a toss-up between Dean Cundey and the late great Allen Daviau who we lost in 2020. Both of those guys worked with Spielberg. Shot a lot of the films that I grew up with in the eighties and in the nineties, and they kind of go unnoticed because they’re not household names like Roger Deakins and people like that.
Dean Cundey in particular did like Jurassic Park and Hook and you know, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, all these big classics that we know from Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis and Allen Daviau of course shot E.T. I had an assignment in film school to contact him, which as a 19 year old pre-social media and all that stuff. I had no idea how to contact Allen Daviau the cinematographer of E.T. and every day I would come to class, my instructor would be like, have you contacted Allen Daviau yet? My answer was always no, because I have no idea how to get up with this guy. I’m a child, so I never did.
Corey Allen: 35:51 Nice. Okay. Coffee or tea?
Bill Cornelius: 35:54 Lately it’s been tea.
Corey Allen: 35:56 Okay. Never been a tea fan until recently I’ve kind of gotten into it.
Corey Allen: 36:02 Okay. All right. Pineapple on your pizza?
Bill Cornelius: 36:06 I am very indifferent to that. I know a lot of people have strong opinions. I liken it to the way people feel about Nickelback. I’m very indifferent to Nickelback. I don’t care either way, and that’s the same way with pineapple on the pizza. If it’s presented to me, I’ll eat it. If it’s not, I don’t care, honestly.
Corey Allen: 36:28 You’re not missing it. Okay. Yeah. All right. Your favorite camera?
Bill Cornelius: 36:33 For reasons of nostalgia and my history with the camera, I would say the Panasonic HBX170 with Redrock apparatus. If anyone remembers the Redrock Micro M2 Ground-glass apparatus that was big in like pre 2010, somewhere around that era. I shot a lot of my, sort of, a lot of shoots that took my career to a higher trajectory were shot on that camera, and so Hear Me Now was shot on that camera. I just have a lot of like personal attachment because it served me well in my career.
Corey Allen: 37:15 Wait, do you still own that camera?
Bill Cornelius: 37:17 I do you still own that camera.
Corey Allen: 37:18 I can’t get rid of it. I mean, I’ll see it in my gear closet and I’ll be like, you served me so well. I’m just thinking of all the shoots it was on, you know, and just like.
Corey Allen: 37:30 Last but not least three films everyone should see before they die?
Bill Cornelius: 37:34 I think I’m going to start in chronological order, starting with oldest.
Corey Allen: 37:38 Okay.
Bill Cornelius: 37:38 It is very old Faust by F.W. Murnau came out in 1926. It is a silent film. A lot of people know Murnau from Nosferatu, which is considered his seminal work. Faust in my opinion is a lot better. More innovative, just the in camera optics that were done in the twenties.
Corey Allen: 38:02 Mind-blowing.
Bill Cornelius: 38:03 It’s haunting. It’s weird, it’s actually fast paced, it’s paced like a modern film. So, I highly recommended. It’s an eye-opener.
Corey Allen: 38:14 Okay.
Bill Cornelius: 38:14 Next on the list is Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Corey Allen: 38:19 Great.
Bill Cornelius: 38:19 Steven Spielberg, 1977. First film I remember seeing where I was actually like enthralled with what I was seeing and we’re talking, I don’t know how old I was three or four. My dad was watching it on HBO when there was just one HBO and it was the big white show volley.
Corey Allen: 38:40 Oh yeah.
Bill Cornelius: 38:41 At Devil’s Tower Mountain, and just that I was like, wow, movies are magical. You know, I never thought of it that way until then. So, I highly recommend that one, that is a Spielberg classic. That is a pre E.T., You know, it’s a little slow for audiences these days probably it’s the seventies, but highly recommended.
Corey Allen: 38:55 Okay.
Bill Cornelius: 38:55 Next on the list, And finally is The Secret of Nimh 1982, an animated gem from my man, Don Bluth. It was the first film he made independently after leaving Disney in protest, and it’s about mice that live on a farm and have to be transported someplace else before the field is plowed, and so they enlist the help of genetically engineered rats to help them do that, and it is fantastic, and it is dark, not just a kid’s movie.
Corey Allen: 39:44 Okay. Initially, like when I hear that, I think definitely kid’s movie, but no.
Bill Cornelius: 39:49 That’s the thing about Don Bluth. He’s one of my favorites and he has a tendency to make films that on the surface look, very kid friendly, but he throws this like undercurrent of darkness in there and tragedy and peril, and you’re just like, okay, well kids might not like this but you know, there’s blood in The Secret of Nimh and, you know, which I thought was just awesome when I was a kid, but yeah, I highly recommend that one. If you’re looking for an animated treat.
Corey Allen: 40:24 That’s cool.
Bill Cornelius: 40:25 One of the greatest American animators of the 20th century. Yeah.
Corey Allen: 40:29 Okay. Well Bill, it’s been so great talking to you today, getting to know a little more about you sharing a little bit about you with the audience.
Bill Cornelius: 40:38 Absolutely.
Corey Allen: 40:39 Yeah. Thanks again.
Bill Cornelius: 40:39 Loved doing it.
Corey Allen: 40:40 Yeah. I think this will be a great first episode. What do you think?
Bill Cornelius: 40:45 I think, yeah, as long as I didn’t ramble too much.
Corey Allen: 40:48 I think you’ll be fine.
Bill Cornelius: 40:49 Cool.
Corey Allen: 40:50 If not, I’m sure we’ll hear all about it.
Bill Cornelius: 40:53 Drop a line in the comments. Drop us a line. Like [inaudible 00:40:57] address.
Corey Allen: 40:58 Like we talked about this. This is not a YouTube video.
Bill Cornelius: 41:00 That’s true. It’s not a YouTube video.
Corey Allen: 41:03 We know you have a lot of podcast options and we appreciate you choosing us. Tune in next time where we’ll talk about the art of the side hustle and my introduction to filmmaking. Check us out at infocuspodcast.com, and if you like what you heard today, could you do us a favor and follow or rate our show wherever you consume your podcasts, it would help us out a ton.
Bill Cornelius: 41:22 Peace out everybody.