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Two veteran directors move to big screen

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Director Matt Williams's father was an amateur painter, so he says he tends to think in colors. When he thinks of television, the director with more than a decade of experience with such hits as "The Cosby Show" and "Roseanne" says the process goes like this: "You're told [by the studio], 'You can paint any picture you want as long as it's only these five colors.' It's all about beat[ing] the clock."

By contrast, when he reflects on moviemaking, the first-time feature director says, "With feature films, you're literally incorporating every art form there is, with every color possibility, every option."

The palette, the shooting time, the budget: Everything for movies is bigger and more conducive to actually serving the story, rather than simply feeding "the television monster."

Mr. Williams speaks often about the need to serve the story rather than his ego. His first film, "Where the Heart Is," based on a Billie Letts novel and starring Natalie Portman, is a character-driven, coming-of-age work, with no car chases or special effects.

The film, which opens this weekend, is for all audiences, Williams says. "If I could say one thing to men, it's 'Take your wife or girlfriend,' because anyone can relate to this story."

The former theater major from Indiana says the key to reaching a broad audience will always be a good story, regardless of how sophisticated the equipment becomes. Whether it's the Internet or fiber optics, no delivery system is more important than content. "A good story well told, with characters you can care about, is still the bottom line," he says.

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