With enough time, talent, training, and successful achievements, eventually you can get exceptionally good at what you do. William Gazecki crossed that threshold quite awhile ago. He has credibility (and the successes to show it), the trust of his peers and employers, and he always delivers. “Finishing”, Gazecki says, “is way more important than starting or conceiving of the film. In documentary filmmaking, where unpredictability is the normal order of the day, sometimes- when in the middle of it, when you can’t tell where you started from anymore, or how in the world you’ll ever make sense of it all and actually deliver a completed film- with credits, color-correction and sound mix… not to mention release forms, archival footage licenses, and cleared E&O Insurance- can seem preposterous. How it ever gets done is akin to how babies are born. It’s way more challenging than most think, it inevitably *must* get done (or else!), requires fearlessness and an irrevocable commitment to deliver… and sometimes just faith that there is something in this universe that can create magic. Such is the risk that every bona fide documentary filmmaker takes with pretty much every project they accept.
If you talk with almost any world-class talent who has achieved significant worldwide success, and is acknowledged at that level… be it a performer or creative craftsperson… they will tell you that more often than not, their own success was largely predicated on luck. Even with comprehensive training and exceptional aptitude, one still has to at some point be at the right place at the right time. William Gazecki loved music as an adolescent, with little interest in playing an instrument, but with tremendous interest in the technology and craft that records were made with. As luck would have it, one of his teachers at the San Francisco College for Recording Arts (the first accredited music recording school) had a connection in LA who managed a studio. Again, as luck would have it, it was at the time one of the most recognized studios in the world. Producers Workshop was a tiny little place off Hollywood Blvd. Two funky little rooms with the best sounding custom-made gear anyone ever heard. The artists who worked there loved it- Fleetwood Mac, Ringo Star, Pink Floyd, the list goes on for many years of work. The sound Engineers and musical talent Gazecki was surrounded by at Producers was his first experience of “as good as it gets”.
As luck would have it, before too long William had his own position as a Staff Engineer at another small studio across town- only this time it was the in-house recording studio for Elektra Records (Elektra Sound Recorders), whose roster at the time included Linda Rondstadt, Jackson Brown, The Eagles, Queen, The Cars, and The Doors. An early and delightful experience was working with renowned singer Joe Cocker, managed by Woodstock Founder Michael Lang. Michael invited William to mix the sound for Joe’s U.S. Tour, a bonus to working with Joe in the studio.
It so happened that Elektra Sound Recorders was also the home studio for renowned Record Producer Paul A. Rothchild, Producer of Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin, and The Doors. William hit it off with Rothchild, and the two became a team, with Paul promising William that he would “teach you everything I know”. For Gazecki it was an amazing period of mentorship, with he and Rothchild producing two major projects: the soundtrack and album for the feature film “The Rose” (with Bette Midler), and two albums of The Doors (posthumous to Jim Morrison). The Rose was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound, and Better Midler won a Grammy for her performance of the title song. The Rose and The Doors albums were RIAA Certified Platinum.
One of the good fortunes of The Rose for William was that he was accepted into the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE, the major Hollywood technical crafts union) at the highest category possible for Motion Picture Sound Re-recording. This lead to several years as a member of a well-regarded team, mixing the episodic TV dramas Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, Moonlighting, thirtysomething, and In the Heat of the Night. During this period of time William was nominated for 4 Emmy Awards, winning one for his work on St. Elsewhere.
With the advent of new, very exciting technology that allowed an individual for the first time to be able to process broadcast quality video on a desktop computer- and now with years of experience in the making of motion pictures- William took a big risk, once again, with a plunge into self-financed non-fiction home-video production. He was interested largely in creating products for fitness, spirituality and self-development. It was during this time that his collaboration and friendship with Esalen Institute- of Big Sur, California, began. As a self-taught, do-it-yourself videographer, William was eventually commissioned to make his first feature-length documentary film. The end-product, “WACO: The Rules of Engagement”, opened at the Sundance Film Festival, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. It also won the Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. Thus began William’s career as a Documentary Filmmaker, and the launch of his reputation as an inspired and skilled story-teller.
William has since Written, Produced, Directed, Edited and Sound Designed an almost constant output of eclectic and interesting projects. Theatrically released feature-length documentaries have been his favorite. Some have been commissions, some in-house financed and marketed. Educational and instructional limited series for specialized content creators have also been successful for him. William has made a total of 5 feature length, theatrically released documentary films, a 4-part limited documentary series for cable and streaming, 3 extensive multi-part educational/instructional series for Home Video/VOD, and 2 special interest pieces intended for public service use.
In the last few years William completed his 5th feature doc, “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker”, a biography of the world’s most prodigious vaudeville performer. He’s been approached several times to be involved in the post production of several innovative projects as a Story Consultant and Editor. One of his interests going forward is the hybrid combination of narrative film technique (scripted dramatization) with conventional documentary production style. “Some of these stories need the presence and value of strong on-screen characters, that known documentary approaches struggle to convey in a compelling manner” says Gazecki.
“I’ve never had all my work displayed, explained and presented in one place… the web is so perfect for that.” He adds… “all of this work was terribly meaningful to me as I was doing it… The Rose and The Doors and the Emmys and WACO… even the Crop Circles and Jacque Fresco… everything has been just amazing. I don’t ever want to stop doing what I do”.