Ryan interviews film-maker, Paul Kimball. We learn about
his latest film, Damnation. We also learn when inspired him
to make the film, how it correlates with his interests in the paranormal, and just what it may truly mean to be good or evil.
How long have you been making your own films, Paul?
I began producing after I left my job in the civil service with the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation in 1999, starting with an adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar for Bravo here in Canada, and a couple of documentaries for the CBC on music and pro wrestling. In 2001 my company secured a pre-sale with Space: The Imagination Station for a documentary about UFO researcher Stan Friedman, and that was the first film that I wrote, edited and directed as well as produced. Since then, I've continued to combine all of those functions to one degree or another, although I have occasionally served as an executive producer for up-and-coming producers on their short films.
What was the first film you ever saw through production?
It was the adaptation of Julius Caesar for Bravo back in 1999. I produced it and adapted the play for screen, and we shot it all in a day using the existing cast from Shakespeare by the Sea here in Halifax, who had been running Julius Caesar as one of their productions that summer. It all came together pretty quickly, on a very, very tight budget, but somehow we pulled it off.
Can you give us a little taste of what Damnation is about?
The plot is fairly simple. Eve and Lara are two hookers and lovers on the run after they steal money from a criminal outfit in Maine and kill their pimp. They find temporary refuge in a vacation home near the Canadian border that they think is closed for the season, but when they are discovered by Nick, the handsome and charismatic young owner, a tense triangle of temptation and jealousy spirals out of control.
(Brittney Jean Blake & Nicole Steeves)
Given the title, one might assume the film deals with the timeless
battle of good versus evil with respect to God versus the Devil. Does the movie tie into any such religious aspects or something different?
The battle between good and evil plays out in each of us every single day. For most of us its at the margins, in small ways that we probably don't even notice (how many people, when given a bit of extra change by a cashier, for example, notify the cashier and return the change?). For Eve and Lara, the choices that they have to make are much more significant but the principle is still the same. Nick is just the catalyst who sets it all in motion. Is he the "devil"... or is he just bringing out the "devil" in Eve and Lara that is already there? That's the question.
Where did the idea for the script come from?
My friend Walter Bosley, an author and filmmaker in California, approached me a couple of years ago with a script that he and another fellow (Mike Williamson) had written called The Devil's Mill. I liked the basic premise so I secured the rights to the script and then completely re-wrote it from the ground up, keeping the general themes and overall plot but re-working it in a way that I found more amenable to my own point of view.
(Brittney Jean Blake)
You are taking on directorial duties as well. What do you see as the
pros and cons of directing a movie that you also wrote the script for?
The most obvious one is that as a writer you tend to become very
possessive about everything, and you don't like it when someone changes something you've written, whereas a director's job is to take the script and put his own spin on it, which is of course going to involve changing it (and giving the actors full freedom to interpret it). When you're wearing both hats, you always have to try and keep those two roles separate - the director has to be able to look at the script with fresh eyes, and be willing to change things up. You always run the risk of directing as if you're writing, particularly when it comes to dialogue - you may have a line, for example, that as a writer you just love, but it doesn't work on the screen the way it does on the page. When you're wearing the director's hat you have to be able to recognize that and act accordingly, usually by ditching the line that you love as a writer. It can definitely be a bit of a challenge... which is why I make sure I surround myself with good people who will keep me focused on being the director, and not the writer! In the case of Damnation, my good friends, John Rosborough and Andrew Mark Sewell, were there as producers to make sure that "Director Paul" showed up each day and not "Writer Paul" - and to provide feedback and some really good ideas.
(Paul Kimball - far right)
What made you want to make the film in Nova Scotia?
I live and work here, and Nova Scotia is a great place to film, especially something set in a coastal area like Maine. There were financial reasons as well - the budget for the film was under CAD $100,000, so that wouldn't let us shoot anywhere else even if we wanted to. Add in the fact that Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia (the government film agency here) invested in the film, and Nova Scotia has the best tax credit system in North America, and "voila" - here we are! But in the end, my goal is to shoot as many of my films in my home Province as possible. It's a wonderful location.
Where did you find your cast?
Nicole Steeves and Brittney Jean Blake, who play Lara and Eve, are both from Halifax. I sort of met them by way of friends and word of mouth recommendations, and signed them up once I met them and became convinced they were right for the roles. Jacob James, who plays Nick, is from Ontario, and I pushed my producers (John and Andrew) to let me bring him in for the film even though using him would cost us a bit more on a very tight budget because I knew he was gold. He and I were introduced to each other my a mutual friend a few years ago - a great actor named Carly Street, whom I had known for a decade and worked with before - and we just hit it off. Jacob and I are both huge sci-fi nerds, so we speak the same lingo. When you find someone like Jacob, you go out of your way to create the opportunity to work with him someday.
(Nicole Steeves, Jacob James, Brittney Jean Blake)
What do you consider the strengths of an independent movie as opposed to a major motion picture?
I don't really see the difference when it comes down to what matters. A movie is a movie is a movie. If you have a good story and a good team you'll make a good one, whether it's for $100,000 or $100,000,000, but no-one ever sets out to make a bad movie on purpose (have a listen to Patton Oswalt's hilarious routine about Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People Sometime). I think the heroic ideal often bandied about by indie filmmakers that they somehow have more freedom and integrity is false. Yes, it's true that they don't have studio executives looking over their shoulder, but that's not who any filmmaker is making a film for - and they shouldn't be making it for themselves, either. Your mission is to make a film that is going to engage an audience. The types of films you can make are obviously different between an "indie" film and a "studio" film, but at the end of the day you either have a good story or you don't, and you either execute or you don't.
Many know you as a paranormal Renaissance Man os sorts. Has this been a refreshing departure from the field of UFOs, or are you itching to work on something in the field of the esoteric again?
I'm a filmmaker. I've made documentaries and TV series about what we loosely call the "paranormal", but I've also made them about classical music, pro wrestling, and 18th century evangelical religion in Canada. I'm not a "ufologist" - I'm someone who is interested in the UFO phenomenon, and the subculture of "ufology" from an historical and sociological perspective, but it's not some all-consuming thing. I have lots of varied interests, and that's just one of them, somewhere pretty far down the list. So the answer would to your question is no, simply because while some small number of people might know me as a "Paranormal Renaissance Man" that's definitely not how I view myself. As for whether I would ever make a non-fiction project about an aspect of the paranormal again, who knows? Anything is possible!
(Paul Kimball filming for a UFO documentary)
What do you hope that the viewer will take away with them after
watching your film?
That we told a compelling story that made them think, and that gave them a few shocks and scares along the way. I like movies that serve as starters for a conversation afterwards with the people I go to see them with, so I try to make the same sort of film.
When and where will we be able to see the film?
Our goal is to have it done and ready to go by the end of November, 2013, at which point it will probably follow the traditional path of indie films and start with the festival circuit. After that... who knows? If people like it, there may wind up being some sort of theatrical run, but that's a very, very long-shot for an indie film. The HD TV in your living room and the Internet are probably the most likely places for it to find a home... although in the end that's out of our hands, and up to our distributor (B7 Media in the United Kingdom).
What is next for Paul Kimball?
I start shooting my next feature film in December of this year. It's
called Roundabout, and it's an existentialist sci-fi thriller. You can
keep an eye out for news at the website, www.ledacalder.com. After that I have a series of projects in various stages of development and pre-production, including the feature Rubicon with Natalie Dormer, so 2014 and 2015 are shaping up to be pretty busy.
Official movie website : CLICK HERE
Paul's website: CLICK HERE
You can view a brief interview with Paul on Damnation below