ESCONDIDO — On Oct. 13, Escondido-based film director William Wall won the Best Local Film award for his movie “Daisy Belle” at the San Diego International Film Festival’s Filmmaker Awards Show and Party held at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp Hotel.
An 11-minute computer-animated short, which also makes use of real-life miniature objects, the plot of “Daisy Belle” centers on a human, Daisy Belle, who has passed away and is being mourned for by a robot. With Daisy Belle having died, the robot realizes that its sole purpose — to serve and care for Daisy Belle — has gone by the wayside and the robot struggles through an existential crisis.
Wall, who has lived in San Diego County nearly his whole life other than a short stint living in Maine, grew up in the East County area. In an interview on the sidelines of the film festival in the immediate aftermath of winning the award, Wall expressed surprise at winning the award, saying it sits as among the most prestigious prizes he has won so far during his directorial career.
“I never expect to win,” he said. “But particularly when you see the other films, which I did today and they were all so well done, so of course I didn’t expect to win. When you go in with low expectations, it’s hard to walk away disappointed.”
The San Diego International Film Festival was the first time Wall had ever had one of his films screen, let alone win a prize. It is not the first prize-winning rodeo for Wall and his films, however, despite his modesty, and “Daisy Belle” has screened throughout the world, including in places such as Greece, Belgium, Ukraine, Norway, Sweden and Mexico.
Wall has won multiple awards at the San Diego Film Awards for “Daisy Belle,” as well, an awards ceremony for local filmmakers at which he was nominated for seven awards and took home five. “Daisy Belle” has also won two Emmy Awards for the Pacific Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for both Short Format Program and Best Post-Production Director. Further, in 2013, Wall’s “The Immortal Edward Lumley” also won two California Film Awards, Best Narrative Feature and Best Film.
“Daisy Belle” also screened at the early-August Oceanside Film Festival, a much smaller festival than the San Diego International Film Festival, walking away with no awards to its name.
“That’s why I didn’t expect to win anything here, just because the level of competition at a festival this size is so much larger,” Wall explained.
Wall said that he enjoys technical movie production challenges, which spurred him to do the “Daisy Belle” project.
“We did several different mediums and that was the big inspiration for putting the film together,” detailed Wall. “What could we do (and) what different mediums could we put together to make one interesting-looking film?”
In terms of what inspired him to make the film from an ideas point of view, Wall called that a “very organic process” and blended it with the technical side of making the film.
“It’s all magic,” Wall said. “I don’t know where the story came from. It fell from the sky, honestly.”
Wall’s film production company, Halo Cinematic, is located just off of Highway 15 and West Valley Parkway in Escondido. He and his wife, Kimberly Wall — who worked as an executive producer for “Daisy Belle,” does acting, casting and production work herself and also works as the public information officer for the North County Transit District — have lived in Escondido since 2014.
Wall told The Coast News that throughout his career, he has primarily focused on making short films because making them is a more affordable endeavor. Albeit, he has another feature film which has been in the works for four years, but has laid incomplete due to lack of financing.
“So, hopefully maybe soon or maybe one day I’ll be able to do (another) feature, but for now, shorts are what I can afford,” Wall said.
Broadly speaking, Wall said that he would place his films in the fantasy or science fiction genre, calling what he does “dramedy,” or a mix of comedy and drama, inspired in part by the work of the film production company Pixar.
“Whenever I like a film, I dissect what is I liked about it and what I can steal,” explained Wall. “Every artist is a thief at some level. Everything that’s inspired them, they use, but it’s unrecognizable and it’s not plagiarism because it’s changed and it’s a different formula using the same bits and pieces.”
He joked that one of the great things about being an Escondido filmmaker is that he doesn’t “feel like there is a lot of competition,” noting that he was not familiar with others in the industry who live within the city. Up until earlier this year, Wall’s studio was in the Miramar area of San Diego, but he has since moved shop to Escondido.
“I haven’t made much out of the new studio yet (and) I’m hoping to change that,” Wall said. “It’s got a better vibe to me. My studio is right next to In-N-Out Burger and Del Taco. I can’t go wrong.”
“Daisy Belle” will next screen on Nov. 9 at the Coronado Island Film Festival, where it will be part of a block of short films.