Two-Faced Beauty: A Filmmaker Celebrates Her Namesake

Rosemary Williams

Project: Two-Faced Beauty by Rosemary Williams

Goal: $15,000

Deadline: Saturday, April 21

Why it’s good: Rosemary Williams (the filmmaker) came across Rosemary Williams (the early ’50s stage actress and model) while searching for people who shared her name for a project. The other Williams’ growing career had been derailed when she was caught up in scandal: Her ex-boyfriend had conned some of her wealthy friends out of thousands of dollars that he used to buy her expensive gifts. “I was totally hooked at this point,” says present-day Williams–she became so fascinated by her namesake’s story that she hired a private investigator to find out more. The hunt turned up a DA’s file from the case against the boyfriend that included “interrogations, statements, confessions, and a transcript of a phone tap they’d put on Rosemary’s phone to try to pin the crime on her,” Williams continues. “Once I had this dialogue in hand, it started to come to me that this should be a film, in which I performed Rosemary’s role, and which was a reenactment of this critical moment in Rosemary’s downfall.”

Williams teaches video, multimedia, and performance at St. Cloud State University, but Two-Faced Beauty, which is told in a series of vignettes, is her first narrative film with a crew and actors. “Really what interests me in the story is twofold,” she explains. “On the one hand, the question of identity–literally, what is in a name, and what is my connection to this person and this crazy story. On the other hand, I’m interested in all my work in social and economic systems, and particularly in power, and how individuals navigate power systems. I see Rosemary as a very powerful person who was stuck in an era and circumstances which ultimately trapped her. In a different time, she might have been a CEO, but in 1950, she had to use what she had, which was her beauty and her intelligence, to try to achieve the power she craved. To me, reenactment was the way to get at these two interests of mine.”

Why Kickstarter: Two-Faced Beauty is Williams’ first time using Kickstarter, and she was lucky enough to have had her project featured among the site’s staff picks, as well as on the websites for the Soap Factory and Northern Lights. Other than that external support, though, she says, “It is very clear to me that success on Kickstarter has a lot to do with your own network of friends and family.” For that reason, she advises, “Think very clearly about how much money you think you will be able to raise from your own network. How much money will your mom pledge? Are your friends at the stage in life where they’re likely to pledge $10, or more than that? The line between reminding people and bugging them is very, very fine–think about how you will approach this issue.”

Last word: Filming for Two-Faced Beauty began on April 9. “I’ve been able to hook up with an amazing community of film professionals in the Twin Cities who are talented, generous, and smart, to a person,” Williams says. “I couldn’t be happier to be working on this project, and doing it here!”