Jean is a nineteen year-old aspiring film-maker from the Sutherland Shire. I sat down with him to discuss his motivations for wanting to get into the industry, and his contagious love for cinema.
Jean Williams, nineteen years old – short hair, short beard, short sleeves, wearing shorts – folds himself into the wicker-frame chair and lights his daily cigarette with callused hands. A landscaper by trade.
But there’s something else happening here. The man is a total cinephile who delights in imparting his KALEIDOSCOPIC MOVIE KNOWLEDGE and PASSION FOR THE PHI-PHENOMENON to an audience. Today, that’s me.
“It’s the sound…it’s the picture. It’s everything. Watching a movie at the cinema: there’s nothing comparable. It’s a communal experience; being in that room with a lot of people – a lot of strangers – that you’ll never talk to. Everyone is in that moment together.”
Jean is telling me about his first time – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002).
“It was the first movie where I thought: ‘I love going to the cinema. I want to see movies at the cinema allthetime.’ Like…” He gets this far-off look. “A lot of people see movies as a pastime. You know. Let’s go to the movies. But it’s a night out for me. Let’s go to the movies!”
Jean watched all the cinema greats – those sci-fi and horror films that have come to shape our media landscape – at around age six, with an uncle who apparently had no regard for the sanctity of young minds.
I recall my first voyage on-board the Nostromo. It was on Jean’s advice. After sweating through one hour and fifty-seven minutes of dripping, barely-lit hallways and fleeting glimpses of Giger’s ominously sexual xenomorph, I was left with one thought: does he not like me or something?
“…You know, films he loved when he was younger. The Thing made me think: Woah. So that’s what movies can do. Bring complete emotions out of you. The CPR scene-”
“-was so visceral…so frightening. You know. And that’s what was in my head. This is something else. And it wasn’t just Western stuff. He showed me Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai…but it wasn’t until the Dark Knight Rises came out that it all really clicked for me. The hype – the build-up to that movie – was almost as fun as getting to see it. And that was when I realised that I really loved films, and started seeking out all different types.”
And here comes the big question; the one he delights in answering.
“What would your movie be about?”
Snap response. Jean doesn’t even have to think about it.
“Bad people. A movie’s villain is also its most interesting character. And getting to understand their motivations – their psyche – is the most enjoyable part of the movie. I’ve always wanted to make a film just revolving around bad guys. Kinda like Goodfellas. Every single character is despicable. And I don’t necessarily agree with what they’re doing, but it’s just too much fun to watch. Or Oldboy – it turns the revenge tale on its head.”
Smoko is over; Jean has to get back.
“I’ve always wanted to make a film about a really bad person.’ He laughs before the next part. ‘Which I guess might say something about me.”