What was your filmmaking background before you made "Grace"?
PAUL: I've been running around with a camera since I was a little kid, making short films and writing stories, and I was lucky enough to have parents who were really supportive of the arts, so they always encouraged that stuff. I started making shorts seriously in film school, and kept it up afterwards, but "Grace"is the first feature I've directed.
Where did the idea come from?
PAUL: The basic idea came from the medical science involved. I was having a conversation with someone and it came up that it's actual medical science that if you're pregnant and you lose your child and labor isn't induced, you can actually carry a baby to term, and that this is a decision that women make more frequently than we talk about in polite company. To me, that was such a powerful idea, it was a perfect jumping off place for a genre story. I've always been fascinated about the power of the mother child bond, so "Grace"was born from that.
What was your process for writing the script?
PAUL: I'm a very thorough outliner. I spend a lot of time working out the acts, then the sequences, then the scenes, then the beats, and while I'm doing that I'm working on the characters, who they are and what they want. I never jump into writing until I have an extremely thorough outline. The same was true of "Grace". Even still, the script grew and changed a great deal over the years. I probably wrote 75 drafts of it.
Did you write it with the idea that you'd direct it ... and, if so, did that change how you wrote it?
PAUL: I wrote it with the idea that I'd probably direct it, but if someone had come to me who I thought had a real vision for the script and would make a great film, I'd have let them. The people I met with just weren't those people, and I believe in the story enough to see it done right. I always write with the goal of having it down on paper in a way that anyone can understand without further explanation, even if the intention is for me to direct it. The goal is always to come up with a perfect reading script.
How did you get the film funded and what were the challenges in doing that?
PAUL: A lot of people were interested in purchasing or optioning the script, but they weren't going to let me direct it because I hadn't done a feature before, and they weren't coming up with anyone good to do the job, so that was a challenge.
It wasn't until Adam Green saw the short and solicited the feature - at the urging of our friends at Iconsoffright.com -- that "Grace" was born. And even once Adam and Ariescope had optioned the script, we had a hell of a time landing the dough. In the end, Adam took the project to Anchor Bay, and they loved it so much they offered to finance it. But it was a long road. Lots of footwork, and lots of faith were required....
What did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?
PAUL: Treating people right really is the best policy. I encouraged this crew and this cast to take ownership over the project and let it be a show that reminds them why they're in this business, and then I focused on creating an environment in which everyone could do their best work and be respected and appreciated for it. That's the only way to do a movie as ambitious as this in the amount of time we had to shoot.