iMahal Interview Series:
Bill Riead
November 12, 2000

iMahal:  It seems that the key is to take a personal approach but only with people who are likely to respond favorably to the thing you are currently passionate about. Is that an accurate description of your method of connecting with these people?
Bill:  Yes, I think it is. For my latest film, I managed to get Olivia Hussey interested in the project. To be honest, I wrote the script with her in mind. I contacted the screen actors guild, asked for her agent, and said, "Please pass this script on to Olivia." But I also put a note inside the script saying, "Olivia, please call me at the house if you are interested."

Not long after that I got a call and it was from Olivia's husband who said, "My wife would like to talk to you." We had lunch and she said, "I absolutely love your script. Let's by all means do the movie." And we did!

I basically go after, in a very forthright way, what I think will work for the films that I do. The films that I do mean everything to me. I don't want anybody to work on the film who doesn't feel the same way. I put everything I have into it. And I want everybody around me to do the same. I knew Olivia would, and she did.
iMahal:  Have you ever worked with people from movie industries in other countries, such as India? If so, how did you see them as different from the American industry?
on location Bill:  I've worked in England, Russia, and India. And in all of these countries I've worked in conjunction with the film industry there. All of them were very supportive and helpful in every way. Part of the reason for this is that I was from "Hollywood" and they all looked up to Hollywood as the premier "state of the art" for film and they felt that they could learn something from a representative from the American film capital. And I felt I could learn something from them, and I always did.
iMahal:  What was your experience in India?
Bill:  In 1981 I made a documentary called Land of Hunger, Land of Hope. I made it in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I just loved it. I loved working with the people. I loved helping them. We made a film to teach people. It was a documentary on how to make homes that would not wash away during the monsoon floods. It was extremely rewarding to say the least. We were met with great warmth by the people of India and it was a wonderful experience.

I was a volunteer. They needed a director and no one would go. Some missionaries literally knocked on my door and said, "We need a director for a project in India." That caught my interest. Then they said, "The pay is going to be very high -- spiritually speaking. But monetarily, nada, not a penny. We need you to go over as a volunteer and work for free. We'll take care of your travel arrangements, and so forth." I jumped at the chance. "Just strap me to the tail," I said, "I don't care, I'll go!" So I flew in the cheap seats at the back of the airplane and I went over and directed their film for them.



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