Paul C.

A company of dancers discover Paul C’s discarded high school journal. They explore their own artistic intentions through the reflections of Paul’s writings. In a string of vignettes, the dancers become Paul and develop their own sense of presence within the framework of their choreographic investigations.

  • David Gaylord
  • Jerm Snap
  • Shelley Sandusky
  • David Gaylord
  • Paul C.
  • David Gaylord
  • Andrew Merrell
    Key Cast
  • Tyler Eash
    Key Cast
  • Edgar Mendez
    Key Cast
  • Sarah Nguyen
    Key Cast
  • Shelley Sandusky
    Key Cast
  • Tashanay Spain
    Key Cast
  • Elizebeth Randall
    Key Cast
  • Shaunna Vella
    Key Cast
  • Leah Hendrix-Smith
    Key Cast
  • Waterfly Spigot
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Comedy, Documentary
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 8 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 25, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    1 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 1080p, 2.5K, 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - David Gaylord

David is a photographer, cinematographer, painter, sculptor, maker, printmaker, illustrator, web designer and graphic designer. He studied photography and design at Pacific Lutheran University. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking at California State University Long Beach in 1987. David considers himself an artistic “drifter” preferring to create in whatever medium into which he feels compelled. He has created over 2000 pieces of art in the last 25 years and his work is included in hundreds of collections throughout the world.

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Director Statement

On the surface, this seems like a fictional narrative. It is in fact a genre blurred exploration akin to a documentary. It seems like it could be imaginary, but mostly it is a re-creation of an existing reality. A good portion of the text is derived from actual personal writings. Some are from the discarded journal of anonymous high school boy. Others are from Facebook posts. The movement is derived from previous work, with dancers that are being what they are, dancers.

In 2014, a modern dance company called Stranger Lover Dreamer made a full-length evening of dance titled: “Paul C’s Homeroom Journal.” After I saw this work, I felt compelled to document their process, and present their creation within the realm of film. What you see in the movie is only semi-fictional. It is a re-documentation of their process and creative articulation. Each dancer embodies the Paul C. persona in order to explore their role in the dance, or biography of a high school kid named Paul. In order to take on this persona, they have used actual writings as fuel. I was there to document that process, create a new work, and present it in a new format.

The film is told from the point of view of Paul. But at the same time, each dancer becomes Paul. This is to show the dancers’ process as they embody the character presented in the live performance. This concept adds more layers to the existing live motif. For example, gender roles are blurred as seemingly female dancers become “Paul” a seemingly male individual. This is heightened in the film as pronouns are kept genderless.

I wanted the film to be an honest representation of the dancers’ creative process. I am showing the progress of a modern dancer developing a role for the stage. In this case, each dancer delves into the essence of Paul, and explores the writings in a method that is real to them. I was there to capture and re-create that discovery as a process. Location scouting became an important part of that process. Apart from the studio, where do the dancers develop their art? The majority of the locations were near the dancers’ homes. Places that are real. Places that have artistic energy. If one looks at the development of a dancer as an artist, the studio is just one of the places in which they cultivate their craft.

The film seems like a portrait of Paul, played by the dancers. In fact, it is a portrait of the dancers. A day in the life of a modern dance company.

Since this was to be a zero budget film, several limitations presented themselves immediately. For example, who wants to work for free? Not many. This meant that I would have to use a ton of favor "coupons". Luckily I had access to several dancers that were willing to help build the film because they felt that the project had merit and would be an extension of their existing work. The thing I didn't have access to was production help. Therefore, I had to do all of the technical jobs myself. To make things more manageable, I employed a run and gun approach with voiceover instead of live sound. With a semi-documentary methodology, I set up the camera in well scouted locations and captured the semi-improvisational choreography on the fly doing very little directing. For the location shots, I chose to use one dancer at a time to simplify the process and aesthetic. Because I was the only one filming, most of the shots were done with one camera and several takes from different angles to get the coverage. I also shot in 4K and edited down to 1080p to utilize the ability to zoom, pan, and re-frame without moving the camera. Since I had limited experience editing, I spent more time learning the craft than the actual editing. These are just a few of the many issues that came up due to the limitations of not having a budget. I believe I was able to successfully navigate these limitations and produce a fresh film.