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Rated: 5.00/5 | Votes: 6 | Views: 275 |Submitted: 11/16/08

Director Spotlight: Paul Solet

By Heather Wixson

The road to Hollywood can be long and hard.  And if you ask up-and-coming director Paul Solet, there are no shortcuts either.  His first feature length film Grace is set to hit theatres sometime in late 2009.

“Getting to where I am now with Grace (being in post-production) was not an easy feat for me,” said Solet.  “After college, I just took a few years to write as much as I could so I could hone my craft.  I wanted to get two really solid scripts done and establish myself with a short film before I did anything else.”

All that prep-work led up to Solet’s first short film called Means to and End which was one of the featured shorts on Fangoria’s Blood Drive 2. Means to an End was the spoof of two special-effects guys wanting to impress a stereotypical Hollywood movie agent by making a realistic horror movie at any cost. This included a montage of Solet and Jake Hamilton (who also co-directed) inflicting all sorts of painful scenarios on each other on film. It was at this point where Solet came into contact with another young director, Adam Barnick, whose short film Mainstream was also featured on Blood Drive 2.

After getting his foot in the proverbial door with Means to an End, Solet set off to make a surreal short film based on his script of Grace.

“I needed the short for Grace to pack a gut-punch effect since you essentially have a very short amount of time to tell your story,” explained Solet.  “The full-length movie is very atmospheric and dramatic whereas the short has a very surrealistic element to it.  It was a tough process taking an entire script and picking out the parts you need to tell the basic story so that people want to see more, or essentially see a full-length version.”

Barnick was on hand for the filming of the Grace short film and put together a behind-the-scenes “extra” that was packaged with the short, demonstrating just everything that Solet and his cast and crew went through just to get those 5 minutes of film ready for audiences.

“What was really great about getting onto set for the Grace short is just seeing Paul work,” said Barnick. “He’s got this really easygoing approach when on-set and I just knew after we met to help promote Blood Drive 2 that we were always on the same page in terms of what we wanted to deliver for the horror genre.”

Once completed, Solet tirelessly worked the festival and convention circuit for several years just to garner interest in what he always envisioned as, “A bigger story than the short movie could ever demonstrate fully.”

It was at a 2006 Fangoria convention where Solet and Adam Green would cross paths.  Green was there to promote his new film at that time, Hatchet, and was told by several of his friends that he absolutely had to see this short movie called Grace.  

“Initially, I brushed it off since I was really busy keeping up with the crowds and the fans at the convention,” said Green. “But when I saw this guy with a dead baby in a Baby Bjorn on his chest walking around, I thought it seemed interesting but just didn’t want to leave anyone hanging at the convention.”

“Then, when I saw Eli Roth (director of Cabin Fever and Hostel) was leaving his table to head into the screening room and he told me I should definitely check out the Grace short, I figured it was definitely something worth seeing. And Paul’s work absolutely blew me away,” added Green.

“As I got to know Paul, and ultimately work with him through Ariescope producing Grace, I saw a lot of myself in him,” said Green. “He has such an enthusiasm for his work. He never asked for anything from anyone. He realized that it took a lot of work to get a movie made and he did everything himself. He really put his nuts on the line for his movie and his passion for Grace really shined through everything he did.”

Green even took it upon himself to help Solet through his first director experience by being involved with the filming process of Grace up in Canada.

“I always wanted to be the first person and last person on set,” said Green. “I also wanted to give Paul the chance to really make the movie he envisioned and handled a lot of the go-between stuff on his behalf since and since I was on-set in a producer-role, I could do that for him so he could just focus on getting his vision onto film.”

Solet and all those involved with its creation really hope that Grace brings something new to the horror genre by not just offering up something mediocre or typical.

“Something that Paul and I share is the desire to create smart and engaging projects,” said Barnick. “Grace is such a wonderful piece of work because it really isn’t like anything that has been done for a very long time.”

“Most of that has to do with Paul’s ability to create a relatable world that can still feel a little ‘off,’” added Barnick. “It just blew me away to have this really intense body horror-type movie but deep down, it still packs an emotional punch that you may not go into it expecting.”

“I believe in the power of good storytelling,” said Solet. “There are just so many movies that don’t work because they skimp on the storytelling.  I just wanted to make a film where everyone could just really feel the horrific journey that audiences are taken on and be engaged with the story as well.”

“Through the entire process so far, I have never once doubted Paul’s vision,” said Green. “He’s always put so much passion and care into everything about Grace. Paul’s story is going to really take the horror genre to a whole new level.”

Writer’s Note: This director spotlight is the second article in a series based on the movie “Grace” and writer/director Paul Solet.  In the coming months, we’ll take a deeper look at the actual filming process of the movie as well as exploring behind-the-scenes of “Grace” with Adam Barnick.  Read part 1 here.

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