An Interview with Rusty Williams – By Timothy Martinez

 Please introduce yourself and give us a little background on you, both personally and as a filmmaker.

My name is Rusty Williams. I was born on September 22, 1961. It was a long, painful labor. My mother swore to someday get even with me… Oh wait – too far back. I’ve been involved in entertainment virtually my entire adult life. I spent several years as a stand-up comic, and the better part of the past 25 years as a professional wrestler, most recently and infamously known as Curtis Candy. Too many shots to the melon forced me into retirement. This allowed me to turn all my attention to filmmaking – y’know, when I’m not just sitting in the corner drooling. I’ve always loved movies and have been writing spec screenplays since 1982. (A couple of options; no completed productions.) The advent of the digital age in video allowed me the opportunity to produce pieces with a professional look, so after starting with several shorts, contest entries, etc., I finally made my first feature with "One Last Kill."

Tell us a bit about your film "One Last Kill" for our readers.

"One Last Kill" is a psychological thriller about a condemned multiple murderer who, on the eve of his execution, concocts and executes an ingenious plan to trap three psychologists and a cameraman in a room with him. Full of contempt for the psychological community that has judged him his whole life, he takes this (televised) opportunity to play the most sinister of mind games with his captives. Killing them would be easy… destroying them would give him much greater satisfaction.

I understand that the film started as a short. How did it evolve into a full-length feature?

The short was a 35-minute monologue by condemned multiple murderer, Curtis Starks. Curtis’ psychological staff had given him an opportunity to "cleanse" himself on camera before meeting his demise. I thought he had an interesting take on his life, and the world in general. The short was designed to hopefully raise some topics for discussion, and give me an avenue to vent some of my own personal rage. (I’m kidding about that last part…as far as you know.) When I sent the short around to friends, colleagues and potential distributors, I got a lot of positive feedback on the character and his intensity. It was suggested by several of them that I should tell more of his story. So, I set out to write a script that would be intense and disturbing, all the while fitting into our meager (non-existent) production budget.

Was there anything in particular that inspired the story in the film, or any of the characters?

Actually, a conversation I had with some online friends in a screenwriter’s forum – Done Deal Pro – got me thinking about Capital Punishment and the various takes on its legitimacy. While all of Curtis’ views are not necessarily the same as mine, we’re close on this issue. The online rumors that the events in the movie were inspired by my desire to capture some of those online friends with opposing viewpoints in a locked room with me are just silly. — Curtis’ character seemed to just naturally evolve for me as I got into him. I can truthfully say that playing him, and keeping myself in that state of disturbed rage was actually pretty unsettling.

Where did you find the actors who also starred in the film?

Hmm, let’s see, I found Todd in the adult section of a local video store, screaming, "I’ve seen every freakin’ one of these!" Scott is a computer terrorist who took all my money in a "Nigerian Prince Needs Your Bank Info" scam. Vanessa is a stalking victim of mine and Mikey was the towel boy when I was in a Turkish prison… Okay, really Scott, Todd and Mike are all guys who traveled the roads of indie wrestling with me. I approached each of them because I’d seen them work live crowds with sweet skills, and I felt those abilities would translate well into acting on film. – I think I made a good move there! Vanessa is a beautiful young woman who had been onboard with me for a previous piece that never got off the ground. She has that look that’s a great mix of intelligence and a subtle, alluring sexiness. I’m also very pleased with having her along for the ride! – The guards were various friends who were very patient and understanding.

 Did you find it hard to write, direct and star in this film? What were the challenges of pulling triple duty?

To be honest, this could have been a nightmare, save for one huge saving grace: A REALLY talented crew who was so professional in everything they did, that the burden was taken from my shoulders. The acting and directing are no sweat when you know every sound is being captured to perfection and every action on camera is being immediately dissected and analyzed by creative, bright minds. Mike Cavanaugh, Marco Leavitt, Mike Kazlo, Karen Christina Jones, John Anthony Lopez, Rick Insogna and Tome Engle had my back every step of the way. There is an absolute 0% chance that this movie would have been done with the great, gritty feel it has, had it not been for each and every one of them. — Mike Cavanaugh had one of my favorite lines of the shoot, as well. Everyone knew I had cut the flesh on my forehead twice (once on camera, once to reinvent the incision) because I wanted that harsh, gritty feel. When it was time for a gun to come into play, Mike looked at me and said, "Okay Mr. Tough Guy Reality, let’s bring in the real gun." — I totally wussed out.

Were there any particular challenges in getting the film made?

Making a film, particularly on a basically non-existent budget, is very challenging in itself. Outside of the cold temperatures and extremely LONG day we had shooting, I think the biggest challenge for me was in the writing. I would only do the story if the script fit our budget. I am most proud of the fact that we were able to tell a story that was actually aided by our limited budget. The feel we were after required me to sometimes "dumb things down" a bit in post-production, as my crew was so good in keeping things tight, that I didn’t want to take the viewer out of that cheap, Public Access feel. Regardless of whether "One Last Kill"s legacy is two hundred or twenty million viewers, I will always be proud of what we all worked so hard to put together.

What has the response to the film been like so far?

Hopefully without seeming to immodest, I can say that I’ve been EXTREMELY pleased with the feedback I’ve gotten. I knew in making this piece that my intended audience was going to be what would be considered cultish. The movie requires the viewer to become immersed in the characters, and we all know that Hollywood, for the most part, believes people aren’t willing to do that. It seems they feel if the sandwich isn’t at least 25% fluff, then it won’t get eaten. (My stupid analogies always end up making me hungry.) However, I’ve had several people who have bought the movie, then in subsequent emails, have detailed how this wasn’t usually "their type" of thing, but they ended up really into it. That’s the kind of praise that really makes me feel great! Most importantly, though, "One Last Kill" has been really well-received in the indie film fan community. Trust me, I’m not sucking up here when I tell you that they are the ones I was most hoping to impress. These people know movies!

Are there any film makers or specific films that have inspired you over the years?

To be honest, I’ve been inspired by many. I have a pretty wide range of viewing pleasures, from mainstream fluff (as mentioned above) to hardcore indie. I feel as if I’d be slighting someone if I tried to pick out only a few who made an impact on me. For me, any movie that made me feel something, is one I treasure.

What are you planning on doing next? What can we expect to see from you in future?

I’m working on a sitcom pilot called "Harsh Reality" right now. It’s a quasi-reality show about a brain-damaged ex-wrestler (Hey! That’s a stretch!) and his comedic plunge into mid-life. I’m going to be completing the pilot and a couple of episodes, then shopping it around. After that, I have two feature scripts I’m working on and intend to make. One is a comedy about a demon who is something less than terrifying, "Melvin Evil". The other is a family drama about a metally challenged man called, "The Hero of Broken Bridge". – Y’see, having to act in my own stuff requires me to keep my characters close to my own personal look. Translation: I’ll be making movies about psycho killers and village idiots.

 What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not working on film projects?

Hang out with my family! I am happiest when I’m with them. My wife is a patient, understanding woman who is the ONLY shot I got for getting into a cushy after-life rather than the fire, brimstone and pain that is clearly my destination. She will not watch "One Last Kill". The tales of the movie alone have convinced her that she wouldn’t be able to sleep with me after seeing it. I told her that if the really second-rate sex didn’t stop her, this shouldn’t do it! My kids are my source of joy and contentment. I can say with no doubt whatsoever that if I were to ever win an Academy Award, it would not take a higher place on my matle than my son’s plastic trophy from his first year of T-Ball. Aside from that, I enjoy playing sports to the degree that my beaten old body will let me and making the occasional wager on a horse race or trip to the casino… If you go to Turning Stone casino in Oneida, New York, check out the sign on top of the hotel. I’m sure I payed for at least the "T" and one of the "n"’s.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we wrap this up?

Yes. I’m not wearing underwear and I REALLY like it! — Movies and wrestling were dreams for me ever since I was little. I would dream up stories that I would tell to the kids on my school bus on the way to school. I knew that some day I wanted to entertain people with my stories; I wanted to make them feel something. At the same time, I would build a wrestling ring in my backyard, made out of old fence posts and my mom’s clothesline rope. I would be Bruno Sammartino, vanquishing yet another insidious villain with my tenacity and stregth. Thousands would cheer my name as I strutted victorious around the ring. Many years later, faced with the decision of joining a "Big Time" wrestling promotion and spending 250 days a year on the road, away from my family or staying close to home and working shows in the independent promotions, the decision was a surprisingly easy one… It suddenly became clear to me that it didn’t matter if it was 20 people or 20,00 who were cheering, booing, chanting or otherwise being entertained by my actions in the ring. The important thing was, I was entertaining them. I cherish the memory of every little kid who asked for Curtis Candy’s autograph, as well as every chant of "Holy S**t" I was able to elicit from a crowd with some insane action. — Filmmaking has become the same thing for me. While it would be great to display my stories for millions of people, if I entertain even one person, I’m happy, content and satisfied. I like to feel a connection to everyone who watches something I’ve created. I’m very fortunate to be fully aware that each and every little shining moment along life’s path is more important than its final destination…

Of course, if someone offers me a few million dollars for one of my works, I’ll still probably say yes… 🙂

*****

To learn more about Rusty’s film, "One Last Kill" or order a copy for yourself, be sure to visit the film’s official website at http://www.onelastkill.com.