Cinema enables you to see into a characters soul, a subtle flicker in the eye, a mischievous smile that the camera picks up but no-one else in the room. It allows the viewer into a characters intimate emotional journey, the private confusion of hope and fear, that’s why I made this film, I wanted to see how in a movie, the intimacy of the lens could give us a unique and new understanding of characters we’ve all heard of but that perhaps never fully felt real.
Known for his striking bright blue eyes and laid back yet passionate charm Paul’s dedication and vision has created a bold and emotive film which plays homage to the great movies of the past whilst establishing a new rebellious spirit determined to tell the story with a clear innovative voice. Paul stated ‘ I had no desire to direct a Shakespeare film that was simply a film of a play, I wanted to focus on making a great movie that embraces the possibilities of the medium to allow the audience into the soul, humour and heart of the characters.' It would take more than one film to tell Paul’s own story!’ Despite being young for a director, Paul’s life has been anything but dull; growing up in a what was then a relatively poor town thirty miles north of London, Paul grew up in a world surrounded by characters and with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a love of movies. First turning his hand to directing at 8 years old and performing in over 30 production by the time he was 16, his professional life in the arts began working alongside cult 60’s music singer, Arthur Brown (The God of Hell Fire) .Paul’s role providing support and advise helped the influentially singer gain a resurgence in profile and win his first national award 'Classic Rock Showman of the Year' After a year’s steep learning curve in the music industry and a semi-regular slot on a local BBC radio programme talking about Blues and Soul singer, he drifted away from music and theatre and found himself working with a small youth homelessness charity. Setting up a homeless prevention programme for locals schools and key working young homeless it would be the start of a decade long association with charities that has helped grow and mould the young director.
Known for personality and vision he often seems to thrive on difficult and sometime extremely serious challenges. This included securing a learnining disability charity in danger of loosing it funding, creating a new volunteer programme for a family support charity and founding a youth festival. By the age 25 Paul had been award the tile of 'Legend of The Year' at the V Volunteer Awards recognising his inspiration leadership.
Despite living what should have been a very fulfilling life and occasionally playing his fender statocaster and fronting a rock and roll band, Paul’s desire to act and direct saw him take the decision to move to London and return to the stage. As a mature university student Paul soon picked up leading roles and resumed his old passions for writing and directing, quickly asserting his wiliness to take creative risks. By the time of his final class Paul had just completed playing the leading role in numerous short films and was in rehearsals for a royal gala theatre performance. He made his London professional stage debut as Christopher Marlowe’s notoriously daunting role of Tamburlaine and was describe by one critic as ‘Marlon Brando directed by Che Chevera.’
Soon after graduation Paul laced up his jungle boots and headed to Africa, travelling 3,000 mile overland sleeping in a tent. His time travelling across ten countries in Africa living in a tent left him with many new stories to tell including his truck getting trapped in rioting mobs, a city rocked by mortar fire, national fuel crisis not to mention his encounters with Lions and Gorillas!
Paul then spent the next few years directing plays on the London Fringe and acting in a variety of films and commercials. He directed a sold out production of Merchant of Venice in 2013, his 2014 production of Edward II was describe as ‘a moody masterpiece.’ After directing a number of short films and documentaries across a range of genre Paul makes his Feature Film directorial debut with Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a story most people have heard of but for many it conjures up feelings of boredom and dread having studied at school about idealised star crossed lovers. The truth is there is nothing to idealise about the title characters, their tragedy lies in the same naive impetuous emotions we all feel when first in love. Despite having a passion for Shakespeare from a very young age, Romeo and Juliet is play I really didn’t care for. Like most fourteen year old boys I quite liked reading in for Tybalt and Mercutio but had no interest in the rest and positively disliked the soppy Romeo. If you told me back then that I’d be directing it as my debut film I wouldn’t of believed you. It wasn’t until years later when I was talked into a playing Mercutio on stage that I really began to understand not just the play but also develop my own passion to explore the detail and raw heart of the story that is so often over looked. The title characters in the stage production as portrayed by Daisy Watts and James Paul Taylor suddenly had a real innocence, of people not destined to be together but convinced they were it was. Romeo wasn’t a perfect young lover, he was an impetuous young man, at times sulky and annoying, clueless on love but convinced his love was a matter of life and death. Watching James play the role I realised at fourteen I wanted to believe I was like Tyablt or Mercutio but actually we were all Romeo! When you’re older you can look back and realise, gosh I was an idiot. That first girl you dated or first love wasn’t perfection, she didn’t make the world stand still, but at that age we convince our self that first love is death or glory and that being with them is the only thing that matters. Anyone who tells us otherwise simply doesn’t understand. Any wisdom or advice seems totally patronising and irrelevant when you're first in love, or perhaps its lust we convince ourselves is love; we're sure that love must be the one and we would die proving it. When teenage years are far behind us we’d cringe at the things we said or did but at the time we were so certain. For me that was the starting point for the film, to smash the stereotypes and allow the humour, danger and delusion of love to resonate through the film. The impulsive behaviour of youth blurs our judgement and makes us feel the world around us is distant. As the film progresses we see how the events force Romeo and Juliet to grow, to try and shake off their naivety and make adult decisions, but as Juliet’s Nurse no longer gives her the comfort she seeks and with Mercutio now dead and unable to provide the elder brother type influence Romeo needs, they must now make their own choices. In their bid to prove and keep their love true their actions descend them on a deadly path.
Too often Shakespeare is stolen from its true heart by a pretentious elite and in their bid to idealise young love they rob the characters of truth and leave children like me hating the play. Shakespeare didn’t write for over blown budgets or expensive theatre tickets, he wrote for the pit, the mob, not sequin drench ball gowns but presenting stories to a raucous and wild audience, giving us a legacy of real people with complex and conflicting emotions that we can recognised in ourselves. The poetry resonates because of the emotional truth within the word, not because it’s spoken by beautiful looking poets but because it allows us to understand our own lives and emotions. I wanted to create real people not a deified version of reality. I wanted the style of the film to avoid the characters getting lost in epic set pieces, or attention grabbing guns.
The films setting is inspired by 1950’s Britain, a time when youthful optimism and frustrations were beginning to challenge the old order. Romeo and Juliet are played by actors who are not teenagers but embody that spirit. In the film we watch their innocence, we see them desperately try and assert themselves and transform into adults and take control over their destiny. I become intensely annoyed when female leads are reduced to being little more than a pretty and passive catalyst in the male story. At the core of this film is a powerful trio of female characters, Lady Capulet, Nurse and Juliet. I wanted to ensure in this film the female characters and their complex relationships are explored and Juliet’s own fascinating journey makes us smile, laugh and cry. Daisy’s performance as Juliet brings energy and personality, we see a girl quickly having to become a women; a mother who struggles to connect with her daughter and Nurse who despite her strength and love for the young girl she’s helped raise ultimately finding herself powerless to protect her.