Film Reviews: Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Fountain of Inspiration

A bluesman/preacher gives a Metroplex filmmaker a great documentary subject.


Bill Fountain is a man who knows how to multi-task. The Dallas native teaches computer skills to fifth-grade students at St. Thomas Aquinas and has written and drawn graphic novels. He also wears the cap of independent filmmaker.

Fountain always burned to make movies, ever since he was a kid playing with a Super 8 camera. He took a cinematography course at Skyline High School and after graduation worked in cable-access tv for a while. He eventually put aside his celluloid dreams to pursue other activities. “Going out and buying film stock and editing the way I was taught, it was so outrageously expensive that there was just no way” for him to make films, he said. However, last year he looked around and saw the advances in digital video that made the medium increasingly available to filmmakers on a budget, and he decided to take up filmmaking again.

He found the subject for his half-hour documentary, Sanctified Boogie, through one of his other jobs, reviewing c.d.’s for the Dallas-based magazine Southwest Blues. That’s where he heard the music of K.M. Williams, a blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter who fronts a band called Trainreck. Fountain was drawn to Williams’ unabashedly spiritual attitude toward this genre usually associated with the profane (especially the story of Robert Johnson and the devil). “He’s a contemporary blues guy, but he sounds like he was born a century ago,” Fountain said. He invited Williams to play for a Leukemia Society fund-raiser, got to know him on a personal level, and decided to profile him.

The resulting documentary is an intriguing portrait of another man with diverse interests, a bluesman who’s also a lay preacher. Williams sees his two callings as opposite sides of the same coin, saying, “It’s all truth.” Fountain deliberately keeps his presence to a minimum, letting Williams use his own words to tell the story of his life. The film could use a longer running time to delve into some unexplored issues — we’re told that Williams had some hard times, but we’re given few details. Still, the subject’s strong personality carries the film, which ends with Williams sitting on a park bench with a guitar and doing his own quiet rendition of “I Shall Not Be Moved.”

Meanwhile, Fountain is continuing with his various projects under the banner of his production company, Level Ground Films. He has adapted one of his own graphic novels into a short sci-fi film called The Sound of Coming Darkness, which had its premiere at Dallas’ Magnolia Theater in March. He’s hoping to use the short to attract investors for a full-length version. He’s also working on another musical documentary called Duende, about three brothers from Monterrey, Mexico, who play flamenco jazz locally.

As for Sanctified Boogie, Fountain has entered it into PBS’ P.O.V. short film contest and is looking to have it aired on television, the film’s half-hour length being particularly suitable for public tv. He also said that he wants to have it screened in Fort Worth, since “Fort Worth people seem to be responsive to cool, creative things.”

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