ILHM is very happy to announce its next big interview! Paul Solet, writer and director of GRACE, has taken some time out of his busy touring circuit to sit down with us today and catch us up on his current projects:
ILHM: Paul, its definitely a pleasure to have you on! For anyone unfamiliar with the film, can you give us a quick synopsis of your new film GRACE?
Paul: GRACE is the story of a woman who has been trying to have a child for a long time, and is finally 8 and a half months pregnant. But she loses her child in an accident. She makes a decision to carry it to term and deliver naturally, and when she does, she wills the child back to life - but not without sinister consequence.
ILHM: How has the film been received by audiences in the recent screenings you guys have been making?
Paul: The film has been overwhelmingly well received across the board, by audiences and critics alike. It's a film that really gets under people's skin. Ever since our premiere, the film has just gotten nothing but love everywhere it plays.
ILHM: We understand that there was some controversy behind two audience members that literally passed out during one of the presentations?
Paul: There were two men that passed out at our Sundance premiere, and then a third guy passed out in the bathroom at a screening we had at USC. He really hurt himself actually, I felt bad. Broke two fingers and split open his chin. I offered to show him the rest of the film some time, but he respectfully declined until such time as he could get some friends to watch with him.
ILHM: What was the Sundance experience like for you as a writer and director still only at the start of your career?
Paul: I can think of no more magical way to premiere a film than at the Egyptian on Saturday at midnight at the . The movie was just so well recieved. People went nuts for it. And the buzz that started there never stopped. Sundance opens so many doors for you, it's just incredible. I'm hugely grateful to the festival for supporting us. We didn't know a soul over there, and I was always hearing people complaining about how they didn't get in because they didn't know anyone and it's all politics blah blah blah, so I didn't know what to expect, but we got in, and it was just magical.
ILHM: What was it like working with Jordan Ladd on the film?
Paul: She's fabulous. Kind and generous and intelligent. Impossible not to love Jordan Ladd. Who doesn't have a crush on that girl?
ILHM: One of the scenes that has been making its way through the conventions is the highly emotional and terrifying birthing sequence. Was this a difficult scene to shoot?
Paul: Definitely a challenging scene to shoot. We had to do 42 set ups in a half day for that sequence, and it's gut wrenching and brutal throughout. It's a real challenge for an actor, and Jordan and Sam gave so much. They were crying themselves throughout. Really just a fantastically powerful thing to be a part of. We worked very hard with midwives making sure everything was completely authentic, and we weren't going to settle for anything short of mind blowing. It's a powerful scene, I'm really proud of everyone for pulling that off.
ILHM: From the initial development to the final editing of the film, how much creative control did you retain over GRACE?
Paul: At this budget, you're pretty well under the radar. It means you have to work very fast, but you retain a great deal of control. Anchor Bay is extremely supportive of filmmaker's visions, they're not trying to muscle in and assert their own. If they like your project, they have your back.
ILHM: What were some of your greatest experiences working on the film?
Paul: There were some real victories every day. On a film shooting that fast, with a script as ambitious as GRACE was, you really were constantly facing huge hurdles, and through preparation and passion, and creative investment that extended throughout the entire group, we really managed to pull it all off. Shooting the entire hospital sequence in a less than two hours was a triumph, especially because we had a very tricky sequence shot dolly through the whole location and holding for the entirety of the scene. So many elements have to come together for that to work, that was definitely worthy of some serious fist pumping.
ILHM: Moving away from GRACE, what and who have been some of your greatest inspirations in and out of the genre?
Paul: My dog Molly Millions and my mom.
ILHM: Would you prefer to continue working strictly within the genre, or would you like to explore other types of films as well?
Paul: I'm a story guy. I'm not dogmatic about shit. I just want to tell amazing stories. I love the genre because it provides an environment into which you can pull an otherwise mundane idea and blow it wide open and explore it exponentially. There are no limitations except those you give yourself. That's why I love the genre. But you look at a movie like THE WRESTLER, and I'm every bit as excited by that type of material.
ILHM: If you could choose your 'dream-team' cast and crew for your next feature, who would you like to work with?
Paul: I'd bring a lot of folks back. I'm blessed with the most amazing, dedicated craftsmen. My DP, Composer, Production Designer and Editor are all just fabulous.
ILHM: What scares you most in film and in everyday life?
Paul: Romantic Comedies.
ILHM: What are some of the greatest fears and personal rewards in writing and directing?
Paul: I think there's always a part of every artist that is terrified he's not going to be able to pull something off, but that's what drives you forward. A day I don't write is a day that fear starts to creep in. No matter how much evidence I can amass that i can pull this shit off, idle time seems to foster growth of that fear. So I try to stay busy. Every day you finish up having lived up to whatever commitment you made to yourself about how much time you were going to put into a project, or how much footwork you were going to do, is a reward. I sleep great at night when I'm working.
ILHM: Would you prefer to continue making smaller Independent films, or are you interested in breaking into the mainstream market?
Paul: We make films for them to be seen. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of shit. I don't want to make films that are huge until I've proven myself enough to have the creative control I need to make huge films the way I know I need to to make them good, but I have no intention of making films in a vacuum. There are compromises to make in any arena on any canvas of any size. Filmmaking is a matter of learning how to gracefully make those compromises without ruining the work.
ILHM: As a Horror fan yourself, what has it been like being the one on stage at the conventions and meeting genre personalities that are now your colleagues?
Paul: Fucking dope. I grew up in the horror universe, and I'll always come at this as a fan first. To be able to be doing something to give back is a blessing.
ILHM: Who has been your biggest inspiration and motivating factor in your career?
Paul: It's a long list. My biggest inspirations are and Polanski, and the biggest motivating factor is the shortage of decent movies out there.
ILHM: What advice would you give to aspiring writers looking to break into the genre?
Paul: Work your ass off. There are no short cuts. Learn your craft. Study the films and scripts that got it right, and ask why they did, and study the films that didn't and ask the same questions. No one owes you shit. Work harder than anyone else. This is a hard business. If you don't love it, and have the willingness to completely break your ass, you're fucked.
ILHM: We wanted to thank you again for taking the time to chat today! We only wish you guys the best of luck with the film. The scenes that we have seen look incredible, and we are highly anticipating its release. Where will the film be screening, and is there a date set for the theatrical release?
Paul: We'll be releasing information on the theatrical this week, most likely. Probably mid August.
Be sure to check out the trailer for Grace below, it is sure to be one of this year's greatest Independent releases for 2009!