Daniel E. Williams


Daniel E. Williams received his Bachelor of Arts in 1991 from Howard University and continued directly into the graduate film program where his mentors were internationally known filmmakers Haile Gerima and Alonzo Crawford. As a student, he was honored with a number of awards from such notable organizations as Eastman Kodak, the Eddie Murphy/Paramount Writing Fellowship, and the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities. His short film Woman and Man (retitled Coffee) received a Community Appreciation award from the National Black Programming Consortium and was named Best Experimental Short in 1998 from The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

Williams earned his MFA in film from Howard University in 1998 and in 2000 he won Best of Show at the Washington, DC Rosebud Film and Video Festival for his thesis film A Thousand Days a Year, in which he also served as cinematographer.

His films have screened at the Kennedy Center and the Hirshorn Museum in Washington, DC, the European Media Art Festival in Osnabruk, Germany, the International Student Film Festival in Tel Aviv, Israel, the St. Louis Filmmakers’ Showcase, the Juneteenth Atlanta Film Showcase, the Langston Hughes African-American Film Festival in Seattle, the University of Toledo, the Toledo Museum of Art, and most recently at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

Williams’ first feature, Cigarettes for Breakfast was an official selection of the American Black Film Festival and the Urban World Film Festival in 2008. Williams is currently an Associate Professor of film at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

About Mind On Fire Films

Mind on Fire was taken from the title of a directing project of mine while I was in graduate film school at Howard University. I liked the sound of it and began using it as the name of my “production company.” It doesn’t have any meaning beyond that and since I’ve continued to use it over the years, I’m kind of stuck with it now.

While preparing some of the films for the website, I re-visited all of the short films I created while a student at Howard University. Some of the early ones contained no dialogue and relied on imagery, symbolism and repetition; exercises in formalism and sometimes indulgence. I was compelled to ignore conventional grammar and story structure because, perhaps, I arrogantly felt that I was creating art.

I want audiences to be engaged by my films/stories on different levels. I’d like to think that the creative choices in my more recent work consciously acknowledge the needs and expectations of the audience, but at the same time, I also have to be true to my own need of expression.

I love all of my creations just as a parent loves their children no matter how successful they turn out to be. And I would much rather have my work here, available for free to everyone, if they so desire, than sitting on a shelf in my office collecting dust.

It’s grown increasingly more difficult to shoot on celluloid, but as long as I have access to motion picture cameras and can purchase motion picture film, I’ll continue to use it as often as I can. I understand and trust emulsion because I can hold it. It possesses powers that continually amaze. I love the mystery. Not just the mystery within the emulsion, but also the mystery of cinema.

Daniel E. Williams