We Need Your Help – May 28, 2012

As many of you know we are finished with the edit of Troubled Waters. Being finished with the edit doesn’t mean however we are finished with the postproduction and ready to release the film.

We’ve had countless people give time and money to make Troubled Water’s into what it has become and what we feel it will become. In order to do that, it takes a lot of time and resources of highly professional people.

So, what do we have left one might ask. You have it edited don’t you?

Well, in order to answer that I will need to answer first where we are with the process.

Where are we?

We’ve assembled a feature film that is 74 minutes long from over 110 hours of footage filmed over six years. The hard part of developing the script, doing the rough cut, and refining the cut down to a feature is finished.

The film is at a place where we are able to screen it for people and send it out to festivals. It isn’t however in a place where it is ready to show it theatrically or send out professional Blueray DVD’s to donors. If we get into a festival we will have a lot to get finished before we can meet the standards to be able to screen it professionally.

So, that leads to the answer of our original question.

What do we have left to finish in order to have a complete film?

It’s time break out the bullet points:

  •  COLOR CORRECTION/HD UPREZ -TOTAL COST: $10,000: The biggest item, which takes the most expertise and more expensive equipment is the color correction and HD Uprez – this will give the film a beautiful look and allow us to screen it in HD and make Bluray DVD’s.The company we will be using is Modern Digital out of Seattle, WA A lot of people have a hard time grasping what color correction does for a film for a sample of what color correction does for a film(especially a doc) see this:

  •  SOUND DESIGN: – TOTAL COST – $3,500: After we do the initial color correction we will need to do the final sound mix. This is taking all the dialogue bit by bit, all the music, and all the other ambient sounds and mixing it together, adding sounds, enhancing sounds, and creating a full soundscape and final 5.1 surround sound and stereo mix. The good thing is we have been given the money for this process but the bad thing is we have to do the color correction first, so until we have the money for color we can’t finish the sound. The sound designer we will be using is based out of Wilmington, NC check out his credentials:http://www.audiokitchenpost.com/head_chef.html
  •  FINAL SUBTITLES – TOTAL COST: $1,450: The last step in our process is the final subtitles. We will be formatting our Spanish to English subtitles in the right file format and creating new subtitles that go from English to Spanish. We have partnered with a company out of New York, Video Caps – http://www.vicaps.com/ – they are giving us a special rate due to the nature of our film and another arrangement we have made with them.
  • GRAND TOTAL NEEDED (to finish the film’s post production): $11,450


So, what are we going to do once we have it finished?

  • Release the film through international and national festivals gaining exposure for the film, press, and targeting an audience of filmmakers, producers, and gatekeepers to the distribution industry.
  • We want to self release the film in Argentina and do a 24 city tour over three months targeting geographic areas that have water issues and invite city leaders to take part in a problem solving forum after the film. We could repeat this in other parts of the world where there are water issues if we find the funding.
  • Release the film on television in The United States, Europe, and Latin America.
  • We want to do all of this in order the share what we feel is an important story that is uplifting and could be life changing.
  • We want also to be able to produce a level of success with the film that we can measure with real water filtration systems installed and communities finding solutions to their water contamination.  50% of Billy Hill Production’s net profits from the television sales and DVD sales of the film will go towards funding water projects.

Why am I writing all of this?

Because if I’m honest, I’m at the end of my rope right now. Over the last six years it has taken a lot of perseverance and hope to finish this film. We’ve done online campaigns, met with donors, and sold merchandise to raise money. I am shocked and amazed that we’ve gotten this far and at the generosity of the people around me, but right now, I have no idea how to get over this last hump and find the funds to finish the film.

I need someone who can come on board and help us find the provision to do what we need to do with this film. In other words I need your help. If there is anyone out there who is good at fundraising, has the time, perseverance, and vision to do an event, campaign, or anything to help us finish the film, we need you. This film is more than a film, we hope it is a source of good in this world. I don’t say that out of hyperbole either; it is a real thing, a real source of good to help change people’s lives.

Email, call, text me, let me know if you have an idea, want to give the whole amount, or want to organize an event to raise money for the film. Right now, as the director of this six year saga, I need your help, now, more than ever.



EMAIL: james@bhpfilms.com

Phone: 910-274-4604

Buy a Water Bottle, Support The Film

Miss out on the water bottles? Get one now & support the film.

$15 including shipping – ships within 5 business days.

This is a 12 oz, custom water bottle that spreads the word and lets you take clean water, anywhere you go without harming the environment with disposable plastic water bottles. You can get this water bottle and support our film. All proceeds go towards finishing and releasing Troubled Waters.








In the Event of a Low Pressure System – April 15, 2012

(D.A. Pennebaker, in 1965 filming Dylan for Don’t Look Back)

After an eventful day, I’m back in Wilmington. Yesterday was a tornado of activity, driving to Durham, meeting fellow filmmakers, seeing films, driving home. It was exhausting but intrinsically enlightening.

Standing in a crowded corridor of a dimly lit yet trend worthy bar where an event was being held for the film maker’s of Full Frame I sipped my drink and chatted with Juan, our editor. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of silver hair. I looked and the man sitting directly to my right was immediately recognizable. It was D.A. Pennebaker, a legendary film maker, who made “Don’t Look Back” the definitive, in fact, first real feature length documentary about a musician, Bob Dylan. The list of this man’s accomplishments would take up a book so, let’s just settle on a documentary film legend, one who helped create the genre of documentary film making.

I slipped over and introduced myself, shook his hand and exchanged small talk about film. It was something of a catharsis for me. A moment of Zen, or perhaps of being star struck, an honor, and a moment of disbelief, shaking the man’s hand that helped create such a strong element of cinema.

We are going to apply to get in next year to Full Frame, a wonderful festival that feels small enough to be intimate but large enough to bring in truly excellent work. At the festival, I met a new fellow filmmaker, and now friend, through Juan our editor. Homer Etminani lives in Spain, he just finished his first feature, “Nation” it premiered earlier this year at IDFA and now at Full Frame, it is a very interesting, beautiful film.  I’ll post the trailer below.

After countless filmmaker chatter about editing, money, cameras, and process I headed out of the event at 1:30am to drive back home to the coast. I felt a twinge of sadness leaving early but I needed to head back to my city, Wilmington. It was wonderful, dare I a use a cliché term, magical; it was a low pressure, whirlwind, twister of an evening for sure.

I can’t wait to finally be on the road with Troubled Waters and share documentary film war stories with more like minded artists from this strange tribe we call film.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”400″ video_id=”KnvOi4SfDUo”]

Concerning Test Screening – February 27, 2012


Many of you know that we are having a test screening on March 6th at Our Town Cinemas. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain what the test screening is and the release process of our film.
First off, we would love to invite everyone to see the film but due to the size of our screening room and film festival restrictions about premier's and screenings we have to maintain a limited guest list. Thus, if you haven't received an invitation, please do not take it personally. Honestly, the film is not in it's final form, so all of you who see it later will have the privilege of seeing it for the first time in it's final improved form.
In order to explain the process we have listed some FAQ below:
What is the test Screening?
A test screening is when you show a film to a target audience while it is still in the process of being edited; the film is not in it's final form. After the screening the audience will fill out question cards and comment on the film. Some examples of questions on the cards are: Did you feel like the film had a good overall pace? Were there any unanswered questions in the story you felt were not addressed?
Troubled Waters will be in its almost final form. After the screening and feedback we plan on re-editing and finishing our final cut by Saturday March 10th. The people watching the film at our test screening on March 6th will be seeing a film that still needs the final sound mastering, color correction, and final tweaks. 
Our goal with this screening is to show it to a limited audience of people who have given above a certain amount for the film and receive their feedback. We will update everyone on the release process of the film also. 
At Our Town Cinemas there is a full dinner menu which is offered. To see it click here: http://www.ourtowncinemas.com/menu/
We are asking that people come hungry and order food. Our Town is giving us a discount on the room rental so we want to show our support by asking you guys to buy food and leave tip to support this small business that has been very generous with us.  
Why do festivals limit premier's and film screenings?
Most top their film festivals require that you premier at their festival. A technical definition of a premier or public showing is when you show the film in a theater and sell tickets to the public for your film.
The reason they do this is to promote the festival and your film in order to create an event around the film. With a motion picture one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is the withholding and revealing of information. In fact, the only real thing you have in order to get people to see a film is to make them want to see the story and have the emotion/information revealed to them. You have to make it scarce enough, yet accessible enough in order for someone to buy a ticket to go see your film.
These festivals do however allow to test screenings and private screenings in order for a film maker to improve his or her film. That is why we are doing a test screening with private invitations. If we did not we would un-qualify our film from many festivals. Also, distributors don't like the film having been released prior. A release is any public screening.
Therefore, our screening has to be maintained at a small invitation only level. This is not a premier and for everyone who wants to see it there will be a time in which everyone will be able to see the film. We will make sure of this for all of you who are fans of the film and its content.

I'm a fan of the film or close to the Hill family, why did I not get an invitation?
Due to film festival regulations and concerns about later distribution we have to limit this screening as a private screening. The people who have been given invitations are either directly related to the Hill family or have given $50 or more to support the film.
We had to find a way to limit the invitation list, this was the best metric we could use in order to limit it.
Why did I receive an invitation?
If you received an invitation you have given $50 or more to the film or are related to the Hill family. We have also invited a select group of viewers (4-8) who know nothing about the film and do not know anyone involved with the story of San Antonio de Los Cobres so that we could get a completely objective opinion.
Another possible scenario is that someone who received an invitation could not come and they gave you their admission ticket.
Will I be able to see the film in a theater in the future?
Yes. We hope as many as possible. However, this would be in the fall of 2012. We have to go through the festival tour of Spring/Summer 2012 before we can release it. We plan on releasing the film either traditionally with a distributor or by doing a self release tour where fans can request screenings in their cities. The distribution plan is still in the planning stages.
Who can I contact about screening the film or theater release times?
Check the website: troubledwatersfilm.com for screening news and event times. If you have any questions you can contact Drew Croley at :drew.croley@gmail.com or James Billy Hill at billyhillproductions@gmail.com
We hope everyone has a chance to see the film. We will take special care to make sure people especially close to the Hill family and His Heart Missions have a chance to see it.
Thank you all for your support.

Re-Post (2009) Burma VJ – December 1, 2011

On April 5, 2009 I wrote some thoughts after seeing the film Burma VJ.  I saw it at the 2009 Full Frame Documentary festival.  The film explores the injustice of the military rule in Burma. In recent weeks there has been significant news of change in Burma; the military has announced democratic reforms and freed Aung San Suu Kyi, she is the national advocate for democracy in Burma. I’m glad to see change.

Why is this important to Troubled Waters? – It shows the power of film and cultural awareness as a true catalyst for change in a society and country.

Here’s what I wrote about the film in 2009:

After Award Ceremony:
The award ceremony was what it was, an award ceremony. It is pretty safe to say the a film called, “Burma VJ” racked up the awards. It was a film I hadn’t seen. After the award show I got tickets and headed off to see the award winning documentary. 
Sitting outside in the sun for 50 minutes waiting to see Burma VJ wasn’t as torturous as many American’s like to make waiting in line. It was actually quite pleasant to sit with fellow doc lovers and wait to see another film. 
After seeing “Burma VJ” I realized why it won so many awards. The film used footage captured by  the Democratic Voice of Burma Network (DVB) from within the closed nation of Burma. The DVB journalist risk their lives and capture footage through any means necessary; they then smuggle it out of the country and broadcast it from Thailand back into the country and throughout the world. This film, smartly and emotionally edited footage from a horrific yet courageous event that occurred in September 2007. At that time Burmese Buddhist monks began a nationwide protest against the totalitarian military regime which oppresses the country. The film successfully recreates the dramatic events, through the eyes of one of the journalist who was the point man for communicating from Thailand to the embedded journalists in Burma and broadcasting the events to the rest the world. This one journalist, along with the network of rag tag journalist armed with cell phones and consumer cameras, was the only way for news to get out to networks such as CNN, BBC, and the US government. These journalist were our only source of knowledge about the country. The regime, murdered the monks, beat people and suppressed the movement.
The documentary completely sucks you into the Burmese VJ’s world using their footage from cell phones and poor quality DV cameras. This film is simply an amazing feat and is extremely important to reveal what is happening in Burma . Giving voice to a voiceless people and an urgency to an extreme situation. I am happy it won the awards and I hope it awakens people to the Burmese reality.
Here is a current update from the BBC about the pro-democracy happenings in Burma: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-15997268
Hillary Clinton and the now free Aung San Suu Kyi