Interview with Previous ASFF Best of Fest Winner, Rich Williamson

Aesthetica speaks to the director of The Sugar Bowl, Rich Williamson, (co-directed with Shasha Nakhai), about his enjoyment of ASFF and his advice for future applicants.

ASFF: What was the highlight of your ASFF experience last year?
RW: I was really blown away that our film, The Sugar Bowl, had been chosen to screen at the opening night of ASFF. We flew all the way from Canada to be at the festival, and arrived at the cinema just in time for the showing. Not knowing what to expect, I was delighted to see that the venue was packed! I always find it lovely to be able to sit in a room and take in the audience’s reaction, so when you get a big crowd it really amplifies the experience.

ASFF: How do you feel the documentary category stood up to other genres last year?
RW: I thought the documentary category was very impressive. I particularly enjoyed Glen Milner’s Return of the Sun, and remember feeling very envious of the camerawork! Adam Docker’s Oil and Water was amazing too. Like The Sugar Bowl, Docker’s film documents a place once rich in resources and culture which has since been forgotten. I appreciated the similarities in the story with ours.

ASFF: Do you have any advice for filmmakers who will be at the festival this year?
RW: Take advantage of the time in York. I left after the closing night to explore more of England and found myself regretting it. York is such a beautiful place, rich in culture and history. Also, I’d recommend getting to know the other filmmakers while you’re at the festival. Naturally there’s a tendency to be intimidated or shy, but sharing experiences opens up the opportunity for great discussion, and I found that I left feeling encouraged and creatively regenerated as a result.

ASFF: Did your ASFF 2012 experience have an impact on the way you approach filmmaking now?
RW: You can’t help but reassess how you approach filmmaking when you see so many different ways of making a film. I was fortunate enough to see a lot of great films, and took advantage of the industry master-classes that were offered during the event.

ASFF: Has winning the Best of Fest Award last year had an impact on your career?
RW: I think winning the Best of the Fest award last year was, more than anything, a real boost of encouragement for Shasha and me. When you’re making a film there are so many moments where you have lapses of faith. I remember when we finally had to wrap up the editing, we were so steeped in it that we weren’t sure whether it was good or bad. When you’re involved with something for that long that’s what happens – you become numb to it. Receiving the award was therefore totally surprising and a beautiful boost of confidence. It was great to know that while there were elements of the film that we may have been unsure of, in the end people were able to connect with the story and could appreciate how we chose to tell it.

ASFF: What are you working on at the moment?
RW: I am currently applying for funding to direct a short film script I wrote called Tonight’s Forecast. In the meantime, I also work as a freelance editor and cinematographer and am presently putting the finishing colour grade on a short comedy I shot in Ohio last year called Where Does it go from Here, directed by Robert G. Putka. The film will premiere at the Dead Center Film Festival in June.

For more info on The Sugar Bowl go to

Film courtesy of Vimeo, Rich Williamson.