I had the pleasure of chatting with Paul recently and I have to tell you, Paul has an understanding and passion for filmmaking that is infectious. We talked late into the night and probably could have kept on going had one of us not glanced at the clock. What I really respect about Paul is that he’s proof you don’t have to be in LA in order to be a successful filmmaker. His achievements are, to be honest, quite impressive. Here's the thing, he’s done all of this on his own.
He is a powerhouse and I am so excited to introduce you to him. This is Paul Newton…
Some call it a curse, some call it a blessing, but I just call it...me. You see, original and unusual ideas fill my mind every waking hour of my life. These ideas are usually inspired from quirky thoughts I have such as “what kind of odd things has this pan seen ”or “How many adventures has that Han Solo Action figure been on” and into the abyss of creativity I go. I’ve been able to translate that part of my imagination into just about everything I do. Luckily, it’s worked out as I've won awards in several festivals, my work has been aired on Sky TV, and I even brought home an Emmy!
There isn’t anything that I love more than creating telling stories except for mentoring young filmmakers. Through our non-profit the Arts and Entertainment Council, we teach people how to Write, Direct, Film, Act and work in the field of filmmaking. I also use my personal business, FMS (Figmeister Studios), to share my talents in film with people wanting to enter the business and help give them the experience needed to move forward with a career if they want.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
I love making films, it is something that I absolutely get engrossed with. Sometimes you might say that I am obsessed with a great or even a not so great story. The thing about it is, if your script isn't any good, it’s a good bet that your movie won’t be either. So, in self-defense, I started learning to write a better screenplay and searching out people with the knowledge of how to do it better.
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
I have always taken photographs, made videos, or created stories that reflect what I see in my mind. I remember creating characters when I was even six years old and writing plays throughout my grade school years. Sometimes, I would concoct a great fantasy and tell stories about how amazing it would be if they were actually true to anyone that might listen.
I really attribute my growth and success as a screenwriter, director and every other position known to filmmaking kind to the DSLR revolution. It had finally become affordable to make my own films. So, I learned and learned and worked and worked until I was sure I could do it and I did it and I am still striving to keep on doing it.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
This is kind of painful to admit but…no one believed in me. Even when I was being published here and there, no one thought much of me and what I was doing. When I started making films, I saw an eye-roll whenever I brought it up and started talking passionately about what I made and what I wanted to make. I even lost real friends over my passion for making films and Vlogs. But you know what, I did it anyway. I went on to be featured as the best short film on Sky TV, Best music video in my local film festival and then the official selection in multiple film festivals around the world. I was even an actor in the Movie “Neapolitan” which you can find on Amazon Prime, a film that I also saved from a technical nightmare. I even won a regional Emmy which was a huge honor.
Let’s just say that I have never had a true champion or a true believer standing behind me cheering me on. I did it despite my community. I do it for me. I do it because I love it and by god, I am going to keep doing it because it’s what I am made to do. Not too many people get to truly know what their gift is. I am truly lucky to have found it, albeit late in life, I am going to do even more, no matter what.
Q: What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
Well, I have to be one. There is no other choice. The only way to get the stories out is to write them down. I’m not that good at formatting and some of the other technicalities, but I know how to weave a good story. Fortunately, I have my writing partner Donald Upton back me up. In fact, I probably lean on him more than I should.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
Success for me will be when I can make my films and get them into distribution. That’s what I want to do and until then, well… that’s a ladder and I am climbing one rung at a time.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life:
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl? Night owl
When do you get up? When I have to
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Drink A Monster
What do you do in the afternoon? Watch movies & TV shows, write, and listen to Tim Conway Jr talk radio out of LA
Do you have a pre-bed ritual? Cigars! Oh yeah…
How do define a successful day? When I actually get to turn the camera on and shoot the scenes that we wrote.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Learning to take criticism. Not everything someone does is great. Sometimes we write stuff that absolutely stinks and sometimes we just need to hear someone tell us what is what. It takes a thick skin to write and make films.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Keeping myself writing… I get bored with stories quickly. That and the fact that I have the opposite problem most writers have. I can tell a story in 500 words. Adding in the fluff hurts, and I am trying hard to fix that.
Q: What’s been your greatest reward in the choices you've made?
So far, the greatest reward was watching the first thing I ever wrote for a short film “Slow Sales Death” come alive when I was in the Edit. I almost cried I was so happy seeing my own imagination actually come to life.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
I’m interested in building my community and networking. I’d love to learn interesting and creative ways people have used to break into the business. I also like to pass on my knowledge to any other filmmakers that may need it.