Williams wrote the screenplay, about a soldier – played by Ryan O’Nan – who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after returning home from war, and the character takes on a job at a slaughter house owned by his wife’s father.
The filmmaker and his production assistants paid a visit to a real meat farm to research the graphic scene but the actual day of the shoot proved too much for one member of his crew, and watching the cow get butchered as they filmed was enough to turn him off meat for life.
Williams tells WENN, “The cow was slaughtered and we shot it documentary style. We went to this slaughter house before we started shooting and that cow was going to be slaughtered on that day and we documented it. It was very brutal to watch and to witness.
“The one thing that was important about this slaughter house is they only kill one cow at one time and it was very intimate and done in a clean and humane fashion, which is how I think animals should be treated if you’re going to kill them for food.
“I’m from Texas and I’ve been eating meat all my life so I have no intention of stopping eating meat but I do respect animals and the way that they are slaughtered… My assistant director is from Texas and stopped eating meat after visiting the slaughter house and is still a vegetarian to this day.”
And Williams admits his director pal isn’t alone: “People have come up to me after seeing the film and told me they cut out meat from their diet.”
But he hopes fans of The Dry Land will not just take the slaughter house scenes at face value – because it has a deeper meaning too.
He says, “What I hope the slaughter house represents is a metaphor for the war. We are so disconnected with how wars are fought, just like we aren’t connected to the way animals are slaughtered for our food.”
America Ferrera, Williams’ actress fiancee, stars as the wife of the sick soldier.