In our continuing series of interviews with key industry professionals, we welcome Producer/Director Paul Gagne‘ who sat down with our own Scott Manville for some quick insight of his process and perspective within the industry. Mr. Gagne’ is prexy of New World Entertainment, selling directly to Lions Gate Films, Fox and Universal.
Scott Manville – Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat. You’re now a well established Producer with a slate of projects under your belt. How were you introduced to the industry, and what first got you interested?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – You’re welcome and thanks for having me on. Well, I first was introduced to the industry as an aspiring actor back in 1999 in my home town of Ft. Lauderdale Florida. I got interested in the industry when I was a young boy watching the out-takes at the movie theater… but I never knew how or what to do about getting involved, so I just put it to the back of my mind and pursued other careers in life.
Scott Manville – Who’ve been your influences within the industry?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – Clint Eastwood, Jim Carey, Michael Mann.
Scott Manville – Do you think that your storytelling ability in film gives you an edge in television?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – Yes, I think if you can tell a two and a half hour story, you can tell a half hour or hour story as well if not easier.
Scott Manville – As a Producer, how involved in the writing of a project do you get? Are you more involved in the
Paul Gagneï¿½ – As a Producer, I seek out well written scripts and yes, I get very involved in the writing, I believe its all about the writing, its the blueprint of a movie, without a well written story, you will have a poorly executed movie… if a script needs some work, I still leave it to the writer to do the changes, but I will always want to improve if anything needs fixing in the story or characters etc…
Scott Manville – Can you share an overview of your career strategy? What types of projects do you see yourself
involved with in the future?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – Well, first thing I always look for is the market, what’s hot, what’s not and I always try to get involved with highly marketable projects in no particular genre, though I do strive to seek out good Action, Thriller, Horror and Sci-fi movies… it seems there’s always an audience for these, though comedies are my favorite, but unless you have a well known comedian actor starring in your film, it will be hard to market… and dramas are about the same, its more about the name recognition than the genre…
Scott Manville – For a writer starting out, what advice can you give in terms of building a career?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – Write something that is highly commercial. I see so many writers starting out with that old saying, write what you know, but its more times than none that what you know is about your personal life and that usually tends to become an art house movie which is far from marketable… but if you have a personal experience that is highly commercial/marketable, definitely write it.
Scott Manville – If a new writer has a totally original and compelling story, but not a completed script, would you consider doing business with them?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – Yes, I would consider working with them and sitting down and discussing the potential of the whole story and see if we can bring it to completion. I’d never turn down a good or great idea. Great story’s start with just an idea and sometimes never go farther than that until someone decides to make it and creates the whole story.
Scott Manville – In taking on new projects, what do you look for? Are you more concerned with the marketing strategy (knowing it can be produced), or are you totally immersed in the potential and development of the project?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – It always comes down to marketing potential, Producers are in the business to tell great story’s and make money, and its always the same in the end, its all about the money, if it was not, there would be no Hollywood. How could you afford to continue to make movies if you couldn’t make money to pay the creative people? Ask any Studio Executive and they’ll say the same thing, Who’s in it? What genre? and What’s the demographical age range?
Scott Manville – What’s the ratio of scripted versus unscripted projects that you’re involved in?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – I’ve got a dozen scripts that are completed and ready to produce but I also have several scripts that are in the initial stages of being written… some of these scripts may never get completed due to changes in the market.
Scott Manville – When pitching a television project, what are the most important elements.
Paul Gagneï¿½ – Story, Commercial potential, can it sustain what the current viewers are interested in, is it something new and fresh? What audience is it catering to?
Scott Manville – How much of Hollywood is idea-driven?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – All of it! The studios spend millions researching and scouting ideas and what the viewers want… but it seems they are running out of ideas and reaching into their libraries and doing remakes of movies…
Scott Manville – For writers concerned with the protection of their original material, what advice can you give?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – Definitely always register your work with the WGA and Library of Congress, but you cannot copyright just a vague idea. I have run into this issue myself, trying to be so protective of my material that I’m afraid to let people read it in the chance that they will steal the idea, but if nobody can read your material, how can you expect it to ever get made?
I’ve asked this same question to a credited writer friend of mine William C. Martell who’s had over 17 of his scripts made over the years, basically says the same thing, you cannot be afraid to send your scripts out, its that chance you have to take or your script will never be seen… it sucks- the thought of someone ripping you off, and it does sometimes happen, but if they make a movie too close to your script, there are laws that will protect the writer.
Scott Manville ï¿½ Agreed. Thatï¿½s why our writing members receive electronic proof of review for their projects being marketed in our database. Keeping records, and fully developing your concepts as written is also critical. Now, are you a TV junkie, or a film buff? What are your favorites?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – I used to be a TV junkie until about 8 years ago, but now with all the reality shows and new shows that are poorly written, I tended to go more to the movie side, but I’ve always been a movie buff since I started going to the theater when I was around 9… I just think TV today isn’t that good, no character development or distinguishing characteristics of characters… look at most shows, you can take any character and throw him in any other show on today and he’ll fit right in, they all seem to be the same, the way they dress, the way they look, the way they act…
If you take shows from the past such as Magnum, A-Team, Simon and Simon to name a few, they all had distinguishing characteristics about them down to the way they dressed. Now a days, they all seem to wear the same dark clothes and hair styles, even the cars they drive are just normal every day cars… but I’m not speaking on behalf of every show on today, there are some shows that do stand out like the Soprano’s.
Scott Manville – How much of your time is spent reading new
Paul Gagneï¿½ – I spend about 10 hours a week reading scripts but sometimes I may read every day for weeks at a time, depending on if I’m searching for a script to make immediately…
Scott Manville – If you’re reviewing a spec script, how much time will you give it to grab your attention?
Paul Gagneï¿½ – The first 15 pages, if a script cannot grab my interest or have a great bang of the opening 10 pages, I will probably put it down, but I have found myself trying to give the script the benefit of the doubt and read to page 35, but usually if the opening is not that interesting, chances are the rest of the script is the same…
Scott Manville – Is Hollywood a closed door, or open door? Is it who you know, or who knows your work.
Paul Gagneï¿½ – I feel it can be a closed door, but if you can get your work noticed, that really helps open doors, but it still comes down to who you know… best thing to do if starting out, is do it yourself, try to find the money and make a movie yourself, there are so many new avenues today to get your work seen like the DVD market and internet, that anyone with an idea and a camera, can go out, shoot their movie and get it on the internet or get it to a distribution company that might take a look at it.
Scott Manville – The same would go for television projects.
Paul Gagne’ – I know film makers who have made a movie for almost no money but had a good commercial idea and sent screeners to distribution companies who looked at it and bought it, now their sitting on the shelf at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video… you have to remember, these stores need to constantly put new material on the shelf so they are always open to screening new movies… doing shorts and getting them into festivals is also a good way to get your work seen and show people what you can do…
Scott Manville – Thanks Paul. We look forward to seeing more of your work.
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