Casting Days recently caught up with award winning Director, Paul J. Lane, to find out about the world of filmmaking. Paul J. Lane is an English Director, Producer, Actor and Acting Coach. Paul and his team have made a total of 3 features and 8 short films and currently have a tally of 12 awards in film making and an additional 5 awards and 2 nominations from his educational programme clients.
- What inspired your writing and love of film whilst growing up?
My first job as a teenager was working in a video rental shop which was owned by my Father. From the age of 13 to 16 I had access to all levels of feature films without any age restriction. At times, it was somewhat shocking for me but exciting at the same time. To be able to see such masterpieces as “Midnight Cowboy” with John Voight and Dustin Hoffman (Winning 3 Oscars as Best Director Best Picture and Best Screen play) and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (Winning 5 Oscars including Best Lead Actor – Jack Nicholson and Best Lead Actress – Louise Fletcher) I was immediately mesmorised in to the real / make believe world of feature film.
- What influences your decisions on what to write/make?
At least once a week our team sit and discuss what could be classed as an original story plus if we can, an original way to film it.
We also reflect on the many scripts sent to us.
It’s very rare something grabs us internally as a team or externally as a client but that’s incredibly important as anything we commit to will range from a month’s working project and even up to a year in duration.
Additionally, I do have a very vivid imagination and sometimes an idea will come to mind when I least expect it as it did with “The Lethal Game” and our newest project for next year called “Adam & Eve AD 2424”.
- What films have been most inspiring or influential to you and why?
Nick Love’s “The Business” was the catalyst to creating a structured plan for Film Making. Although filmed around 2004 and released in 2005, it depicted life in the UK and abroad in the mid 1980’s. It starred Tamer Hassan, Danny Dyer, Eddie Webber and Geoff Bell.
Within 5 years I was on set with Geoff and in the studio with Eddie creating my first feature. I am a great believer in the Laws of Attraction. If you ever get a chance to watch “The Secret”, please do so, it broke the spell I was under and released the confidence required to make my own and others personal visions come true.
I often say to those closest to me, ask yourself three very important rhetorical questions:
2 Why not?
3 Why not me?
- When do you know a script is ready to shoot?
When finalised, I firstly ask people closest to me in the film industry for feedback and just as importantly the team which will be potentially working on the project.
- Does directing change how you write? If yes, in what way?
I believe it’s important to understand what an actor goes through to create a character which means I will write as much scene direction as I can in terms of the actor visualising the film’s vision and at the same time leave as much room for the actor’s interpretation for his or her skill set particularly with energy work and chemistry building.
- Do you remember the first thing you wrote? What was it?
A short story for a music video when I was 18 called “The Chase.”
This was in 1984 and involved a car chase with a classic car called a Morgan. As I was hanging on for dear life trying to get my framing right at 70 miles an hour, I remember thinking, this is awesome! I can’t wait to get in the editing room and bring it to life.
- What is your involvement in the casting process?
I arrange a small team to join me in assessing all applications.
- On your website it states you’ve held over 2000 face to face auditions – how do you find actors for your films?
Since my first feature film audition process in 2010, I’ve been very blessed to work mainly with StarNow. Their whole set up is very user friendly and incredibly professional.
- Do you find someone to totally match a character you’ve written, or do you ever find someone totally special and build the character around them?
9 Times out of 10 we’ll build the character around them but just as importantly it’s how the character interacts and reacts with the story’s objectives and other characters. Creating emotional performances is our key to success in winning awards by reaching the viewers heart in both dark and light situations.
- What’s been your favourite film to make and why?
Aside from our current film project “The Lethal Game”, the feature film “16/03” was a wonderful experience. The sets were amazing and so were the people and culture of Iraq and the UK I engaged with in this country. It’s winning many awards right now.
- You’ve also launched your own acting school in 2012 – The Film Actors Club. What inspired you to do this?
My first experience on a casting panel for a feature film was quite surprising. I saw a lot of performances that were very much theatre based and at the time didn’t really understand why. After completing a lot of research, I started to see that a lot of the education crossed over in to all types of acting so it gave me the inspiration to create a base for actors and actresses to go which solely specialised in Feature Film acting.
The Film Actors Club has been running for 5 years now and amongst winning collectively 17 awards in the last 3 years, we are extremely proud to say that students have over the last year been involved in scenes with Ray Winston, Daniel Day Lewis and in programmes on The History Channel and BBC.
- What’s your biggest piece of advice to actors who want to be cast in feature films?
If an actor or actress has read this far in the article, they are in the right mind-set, hunger for knowledge, self-development and change is the most important road to success.
I advise to engage and learn how knowledge, strategy and execution works.
Once you understand this, look at your skill set i.e. how you act and count how many skills you have.
The best actors I’ve worked with have in excess of 100 skills.
Then find a way to film what you do, analyse, adapt and create because although it would seem really obvious, no one can see themselves acting when they perform. (You can’t see yourself in the room). You need to understand what your performance looks like in connection with what it feels like, then you can work out your range and versatility as an actor. After all, everyone’s going to see it on a 60-foot screen and you really need to see it and interpret it before they do. This process also works for your preparation for an audition.
- You have won some fantastic awards – most recently awarded for Best Director at The Festigious International Film Festival – but what has been your biggest achievement or most important to you in your history of film making?
Well you’ve hit the nail on the head as that moment is my proudest so far, mainly because it was a film I directed which came to life through our educational programme. The prize giving panel have an amazing record in the UK and US, relating to box office hits and Emmy nominated productions.
We are so proud of the film’s writer and lead actress Cheryl Neve. For the film, she was awarded Honourable Mention from The LA Film Awards and Nominated for Best Actress at The Birmingham Film Festival plus 2 additional awards for Best Drama. This is an amazing achievement.
I’m relishing the thought that she may judge one of my films in the not too distant future as it has just been announced that she is the Lead Judge for a film festival in the US (The Actors Awards). Now that’s inspiring and that’s why she is only one of three people who hold a Distinction honour from The Film Actors Club Educational Programme.
- What’s your plan for the future and what’s coming up next?
We are very excited for our Private Screening of “The Lethal Game” on Saturday 30th September 2017 and 2 weeks later we will announce the cast of its follow up movie. Then we are on to preparation for “Adam & Eve AD 2424”, both to be filmed next year.
Currently we are working on 3 short movies entitled “The Exchange”, “Bud Days” and “Mr Sweet”.
To find out more about Paul and his upcoming projects go to The Film Actors Club website.