Paul Skidmore – Man of the Renaissance

Paul Skidmore is a director, writer, and producer and founder of his production company Parabolos.
The coffee beverage that I would assign to Paul: large black coffee, straight up.


When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Movies were something that I always loved as a kid. At age 6 I wrote down a list of around 30 occupations that I thought I could do. It was a ridiculously long list. But I’ve always loved movies and wanted to make them but I didn’t know how. I would see these really nerdy pictures of Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and George Lucas and I’d say to myself, “ I can do that. I am at least a little less nerdy than they are.”
It was in college that I realized that I really wanted to do this. I was sitting in an “Intro to Film” class,, and we were watching Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. (Even though I don’t usually like Spike Lee films) There were parts of that film that were so different than any film I’d ever seen. He stepped outside the traditional form and I knew that there was a reason that he was doing it. I didn’t know the reasons why he was doing them like I know now, but it was in that moment that I knew I had to make movies. I knew I could do it. I just needed to learn how (Skidmore went on to earn a degree in Filmmaking with an emphasis in Producing from the University of North Carolina).


Why did you feel the urge to make movies? 
It was similar to Plato’s Cave illustration. When I had my “Aha” moment watching Do the Right Thing, it was such a great feeling. I now wanted to see other people have that same feeling. So I guess it was a little narcissistic at first. I wanted to create something that could create a moment for people just like I had. There’s something about film that is revelatory, and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to do much more than just entertain people.


Which filmmakers do you aspire to be like? 
Those that I aspire to be like are not necessarily in film. Film is actually a very young art form. It’s still an infant. As I’ve gotten older I want to be a part of a greater trajectory that has longevity. So I look to people that have done things that have that type of longevity. People like Michelangelo. One of the last things he wrote was, “Ancora Imparo (Still I learn).” He invented to create, worked passionately and thoroughly. He did things that are “technically” wrong, like the hands and head of his Davidor the proportional sizes of Mary and Jesus in his Pieta, but these became masterpieces because of the reasons behind them those decisions. People like Rachmaninov and Buddy Rich are those I aspire to be like. I’m also influenced by people outside of the classical arts. People like Steve Jobs, or even those that worked in NASA during the 50s and 60s. Look at their work ethic and attention to detail. I have more technology and resources in my iPhone and I use it to go to Facebook.


If you were not a Filmmaker, what would you be doing? 
I went to College for Music Education. I love teaching. So probably that.


What has been the hardest part about your journey as an artist? 
There’s always been a battle between the wisdom of man (which seeks to know everything) and the wisdom of God (which puts the truly important things first). So the hardest thing has been realizing that I can’t conquer or know everything, and embracing what is truly important and putting that above all else.


What is the most embarrassing/worst moment you have had as a filmmaker?
When I think about my life, it’s a series of boneheaded mistakes or failures. But if I had to choose one thing, it’d probably be not taking the time to sit down and learn from the mistakes that I’ve made in the past.


What is your favorite component/part of the filmmaking process? 
I’ll give two answers. The first is seeing someone have an  “Aha” moment when they see one of my films. The second is more technical. I love everything entailed with directing. The beauty of that is that with the way I direct it’s not confined to being on set. My style involves a lot of pre-planning and writing/drawing every little thing out before it ever gets to the set. So I can direct even before a project has financing and no one is around.


Which role in filmmaking do you like most and of which are you best? 
This is an easy one for me. Directing for sure. Especially when there is a strong team in place that can execute all of their respective responsibilities and I can really focus on directing. But others would probably say producing. I‘ve also become a better writer over the years.


What film has influenced you the most? 
Because of the films that I grew up with, the great epics of the 80s have a special place in my heart. Films like E.T., Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Back to the Future. I always saw myself as Eliot (E.T.), or Marty Mcfly (Back to the Future), or Luke Skywalker (Star Wars). The films of Zemeckis and Lucas have influenced me a lot.
One in particular is Cast Away, which has one of the most well crafted endings of any film I’ve ever seen. The way Zemeckis puts the final shot (with the crossroads) on the audience is brilliant. Mel Gibson’s Passion is another one that I believe is masterfully well done. A film that made a huge impact on me that most people have not heard of is Claude Lelouch’s Les Miserables (1995). I can’t even get it on DVD, but it’s a beautiful French film that has shaped my storytelling style.    


If you had no limitations to budget, time or reputation what film would you make right now?
Not to avoid the answer, but I’d probably make the films that I’m trying to make right now: Stirring (Short) and Gentleman’s Club (Feature)But if there were no limitations to budget or time and I wanted to do something fun, then I’d make the Sci-Fi futuristic thriller that I mapped out when I was in college (due to the sensitivity of the plot we’ll just have to leave it at that).


What is your coffee beverage of choice (with money not being an issue)? 
Quad tall (12oz) ristretto breve latte with honey and light foam.

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