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Group

At a group meeting for recovering drug addicts, not everyone is revealing the full truth.



William R.A. Rush was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and moved to Philadelphia in 2023 to attend law school. He has been a practicing attorney for eighteen years primarily as a trial attorney.



He began making movies in late 2022 after years as a passionate lover of film with a licensed Stephen King adaptation, "One for the Road". He uses lis legal training and experience in his approach to filmmaking. As a trial lawyer, he has always worked on cases where a single event or crime, followed by years of investigation, leads to sometimes a couple days or less to condense years of information into a single presentation to present his case.

This is how he approaches filmmaking: a massive and meticulous amount of preparation all leading to filming the project.


This also leads to his eye for realism and truth. Drawing as his experience as a father to three daughters, he incorporates his life and experiences into his films' messaging and depth to create an immersive, realistic and often unflinching style and subject matter. It was our pleasure to speak with William about his latest film project.


How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on? 


My filmmaking career has been very brief. I didn't begin filming anything until Mid-December of 2022. My first project was a short Stephen King adaptation called "One for the Road". We only had seven shooting days for it, but we completed the project on time and I enjoyed it immensely. I knew I could improve.

 

I have always loved film, always been passionate about it. It is my favorite visual artform. I decided if I was ever going to attempt to be a filmmaker, that was the time.

 

I started writing "Group" toward the end of December, 2022 and got some funding for it. I was invited to apply to the WGA and became a member shortly before the strike. I was able to get all contracts and everything set for “Group” ahead of the strike.

 

What genre of filmmaking are you looking to work on and why? 

 

I love working on horror, suspense and drama. I feel like horror is the most empathetic genre, and the genre that allows for the most varied expression of complicated ideas. Suspense requires extremely precise visuals and pacing. Finally drama, if portrayed honestly, elicits genuine emotion without manipulation. Those are the primary genres I find myself drawn to.

 


What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker? 

 

As an independent filmmaker it’s not enough to merely have a brilliant vision and a good idea and hope that someone can take it and run with it and give you what you need to make it happen. 

 

You have to have the idea, describe and plan every single element of the idea, translate every facet of the idea into the language of film, find and hire every single individual to bring it to life, and trust your instincts when it comes to people so that you can delegate and collaborate with confidence. 

 

And when you think you have all of that, you have to make sure that it all fits into a budget…to the penny…in order to make it all happen. Timelines and scheduling are everything. If all that goes well, you start all over again with post-production.

 

How challenging is it to fund indie films?

 

It’s incredibly challenging. The funding sources are not bottomless like with major studios. You have to work extremely hard to find people who believe in your work and believe in you and are willing to put their resources on the line for your vision. If that all happens, you have to deliver the vision with far less than a studio film. 

 


Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?

 

There are dozens upon dozens, but I won’t give a cheat answer. I will say Ari Aster, David Cronenberg, Michael Haneke. I admire Ari Aster for shooting visceral films which create dread and discomfort. I think it’s important to be on edge and uncomfortable as part of the cinematic experience in the horror and suspense genres because life puts you on edge and is often uncomfortable. Horror is about confronting life’s fears.

 

Haneke tells complicated but resonant stories and shoots them with a brutal realism. Haneke’s films, more than may others, push us into the voyeuristic seat during a specific event within the characters’ lives, however long. The before, the after, etc., are often less important the moment we are confronted with. If backstory matters, just enough of it will be provided for the story to be told. What matters is this specific time in the lives of these specific characters, and whether he leaves you with a million questions about what might come after is beside the point It’s bold filmmaking. 

 

Cronenberg inspired me and continues to amaze me with his use of color and his expression of complex and often disturbing symbolism. He creates worlds where the most assaulting imagery represents the most common human fears and experiences. In particular, “Crash” made me see cinema differently, and made me desperately want to be a filmmaker. 

 

What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?

 

The film “Immersion” (which we shot directly after “Group”) is being scored and colored at this moment. My next feature “Fetish” is in preproduction and scheduled to shoot this September. In addition, I recently finished a feature script, “Encore”, which I plan to shoot in the Spring of 2025. My sex thriller (producer’s phrasing), “Sweetener” has won numerous screenplay awards on the festival circuit and is being shopped around to various producers currently.

 

What was the inspiration behind your latest film project?

 

It started with seeing a friend’s Facebook post one morning and then running into that friend hours later. The friend, in person, (demeanor, attitude, outlook, disposition, etc.) bore no resemblance to the Facebook persona. I thought “is any of this real?” That experience came around the time when one of the myriad tragedies we see in the United States had happened. Two commonly-stated refrains in the wake of these tragedies are that “no one saw this coming” and “everyone should have seen this coming.”

 

I wondered how far people would go to maintain a false persona. I thought of a group therapy session where people had to be honest in order to get help. Would these people, even if under the protection of anonymity, be honest? Or would these people present a glossy version of themselves, even if that glossy presentation prevented them from getting better?  Of course, when people are focused on a false persona they may miss the obvious signs of danger around them. ‘Group’ was what was borne of that idea. No one sees it coming, but maybe they should have.

 


How did you find the cast and the crew of the film?

 

Several were actors and crew I had worked with on “One For The Road”. I had found those individuals through casting companies and through recommendations of the people I worked with. 

 

In fact, the first person we cast was Michael Lake, from the greater Toronto area and I just had to have him for ‘Group’. When you can work with people and trust them and truly collaborate with them you take their recommendations seriously. People joke about Mike Flannagan and Wes Anderson working with the same cast and crew over and over again. But when you find people that you can work with and be comfortable with in all aspects of filmmaking it only makes sense to work with them again and again. 

 

Our casting director on “Group” (Chris Rivera) for example was an actor in “One For The Road” and “Group”. He held every audition with me and our producer, Xxena N. Rush. On the rare occasions when they disagreed with me on a choice, I deferred to them and they were always right. 

 

For your first film you take a leap of faith on everyone. When trust grows and collaboration becomes second nature it’s the formula you stick with.

 

What is the distribution plan of the film and did the film receive any screenings or was it featured in festivals?

 

We are just beginning to reach out to distributors in the last couple weeks. As far as festivals, I was in a minor panic that we would never be selected or screened, so I submitted to many festivals. 

 

Since then, we have had screenings in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, California, Paris, India, London, Sweden and numerous other countries. “Group” has won over 250 awards at this point and each is a staggering accomplishment. The film seems to resonate with audiences and critics and we hope it will continue to do so.  

 

Why do you make films and what kind of impact would your work have on the world?

 

I love and am obsessed with film. It is my favorite artistic form, primarily because it encompasses dozens of incredibly art disciplines. 

 

As far as the impact I hope to achieve, I would like everyone who views my films to identify with one character on the screen, to see themselves up there and to feel seen themselves. If I can do that, then I am providing to audiences what my heroes have provided to me. 

 

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You must deftly pilot the little gray alien through the ever-expanding landscapes run 3

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