William Garcia, the American-Cuban founder of LA-based Playworld Pictures, has had a varied career from TV broadcasting to film production. Now a producer, his latest film is ‘Samland’, an immigrant story that William describes as a “tribute to those who search for the American Dream”. This brings him full circle, as he grew up in Miami, Florida, with days filled with Cuban food, escaping to the beach, and dancing at the Forest a Teen Night Club in Hialeah, Florida and area known for Latinos.
He says: “I’m a first-generation American, born and raised in Miami, but my blood is Cuban. Mom and Dad were born in Cuba; I was raised with Cuban food, salsa, the language and the culture. It’s essential to me to tell Latin American stories on screen; Hollywood has depicted Cubans and most Latinos as drug dealers, gang members, uneducated and poor. It’s important to me to show that we as a people are so much more, that we have a beautiful and vibrant culture. We can also dance like nobody else. Just ask my wife; she happens to be Dominican, straight from Washington Heights.”
William started his career in the 1980s in news, documentaries and sports. He covered huge stories including the “Cocaine Cowboy” era of South Florida, the NASA space shuttle missions and visits from Princess Diana. He even broadcast a live show from the former Soviet Union.
In the late 1990s, William filmed for ‘Sports Jam Live’, a weekly live sports show, and ‘The Don Shula Show’, a sports programmed starring Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula.
After his award-winning career in broadcasting, William became General Manager for Moving Pictures, a South Florida film, television and equipment rental production company, before becoming a producer and director for features, commercials and music videos. During this time, he worked with some of the world’s greatest musicians including Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Lenny Kravitz, Aerosmith, Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera, to name just a few.
Since William founded Playworld Pictures in Los Angeles, his film credits have included ‘Loren Cass’, set after the 1996 St Petersburg, Florida riots, which has been nominated for numerous awards and prizes. His work in the Latin American market includes Spanish films ‘Amor Y Frijoles’, ‘Mi Verano Con Amanda 3’, and the Honduran smash hit ‘Quién Paga La Cuenta?’.
In 2018 he produced the feature film ‘Obsession’, starring Brad Dourif and Mekhi Phifer, the web series ‘H8ters’ and the number-one hit film ‘Followed’. This year, the company produced the award-winning feature ‘Samland’, presented at the New York Latino Film Festival, sponsored by Warner Media/HBO. The film is distributed by Gravitas Ventures in the U.S. and Canada.
‘Samland’ is the story of a desperate immigrant who gets involved with an unscrupulous drug dealer and enters a marriage of convenience with Samantha, a young woman running from her past.
Playworld Pictures has also landed the rights to Pedro Pérez-Sarduy’s novel ‘The Maids of Havana’, about wealthy white people and the poor black women in their service before and after the Cuban Revolution.
During the pandemic, they filmed the feature ‘Rally Caps’, which is now in post-production. This is a passionate coming-of-age story for kids, based around Little League baseball, which channels classic sports films. William describes it as “an inspirational story of a young boy dealing with a family tragedy, and how a deaf baseball player inspires him to continue playing ball at summer camp. I’m a Spielberg fan, and this movie is very much in the genre that I love”.
Among Playworld Pictures’ clients are MTV, VH-1, TLC, Animal Planet, Republic Records, MTV Tr3s and AWE Network. William is a member of the Producers Guild of America.