Q&A with Adam Paul

Photo Courtesy of IMDB.

Photo Courtesy of IMDB.

Adam Paul conceived the idea of The First Annual St. Lawrence International Film Festival, which will be held on Oct. 22-24 in Canton and Potsdam, New York, as well as Brockville and Ottawa, Ontario.

Seth Montpelier: Being from Ogdensburg, I’m always excited when St. Lawrence gets a big event because it’s uncommon. Why did you choose to hold this event in St. Lawrence County?

Adam Paul: My wife is from Lisbon, so I spend a lot of time here with her and her incredible family. We had been thinking of potentially moving back to the area and had been thinking of something we could do. Something meaningful, to give back to the community a little bit. It would be exciting and new to the area. So, the idea of this film festival happened and because of the colleges and schools in the area, that was attractive to do an event here. Also, the proximity to the border of the country to Ottawa, a major national capital. Those three element: the colleges, the border, and Ottawa seemed to be good mix of ingredients for a different kind of film festival.


SM: What are some features of the festival that you are excited about?

AP: I’m excited about all of them and that’s really not a cop-out. We put together a terrific program of films for this event. We have in competition a world premiering film, Killing Poe, which is a hilarious film about college students who abduct their Edgar Allan Poe professor and torture him with all of Edgar Allan Poe’s devices and it all goes horribly wrong. Our opening gala film is a 35th Anniversary screening of The Blues Brothers, which is a favorite of mine from growing up. We will have Dan Aykroyd there live at the opening gala, which is a real treat.

All of that benefits the RCMP Foundation, which is going to be putting together a scholarship based on all the money raised for that event for Canada’s at-risk youth. We’re giving away an incredible award, The Empire State Filmmaker Award. It’s the first ever and we’re giving it to Joseph Costello who is the writer and director of The Preppy Connection, which is based on a true story set in New York about a prep school student who decides to get in the drug trade to make friends with a popular kid. That’s sort of the goal of the award, to honor a filmmaker and a film that shows off New York at its best. We have a new film screening called The Hunting Ground, which is an incredible documentary, directed by Kirby Dick, that is about the very serious issue of campus rape. It’s a very powerful film that premiered at Sundance this year and we hope it will be nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary. That is free to all the students in the area. We are really excited and honored to be able to show that film. So, that’s a taste of the 25 films we’ll be screening, along with the special events we have.


SM: How did you go about the selection process of these films?

AP: We put together a team of screeners from around the area and the country; people who viewed films that were submitted to us and scored them based on a standardized scoring sheet we gave them. Then, that went through multiple processes of review to find the best of the best and those that would compete. We’ve also curated some films that will be marquis screenings out-of-competition, films like Band of Robbers and Darkness On The Edge of Town, screened in Canada. We’re honored to show them. Band of Robbers will have its Ontario premiere and Darkness On The Edge of Town will have its North American premiere. We have a programming director whose name is Bears Fonte, and he is among the great film programmers in the country right now. He put together our incredible program and found films that we felt fit our theme and what we’re trying to do here with this event. That deserved to be shown.


SM: You’ve also done quite a bit of acting. What were some of your favorite jobs in that respect?

AP: Well, I’ve been lucky and worked on a lot of different stuff. I had my own show that I wrote and starred in that was, to me, the most satisfying of the things I’ve done [Starz’s Hollywood Residential]. That was another reason I was very, very busy. But, of course, I loved doing How I Met Your Mother, where I played the recurring character of Mitch, who didn’t wear clothes [S4Ep9: “The Naked Man”]. That was fun—a great group of people to work with. I did a great movie with Katherine Heigl called One For The Money, and that was a fun part, too. I got to do this scene with Debbie Reynolds and Katy Heigl, and it was just really a lot fun. So, I’ve had a great career. I’ve been very blessed.


SM: What were some of your favorite movies that were released this year?

AP: I loved Ex-Machina. I thought it was a great film about an Artificial Intelligence robot that goes awry. A beautiful, small film about a big idea and I thought it was really well-done. But, I’ll tell you, I’ve seen a lot of films that have not “officially” come out this year, that we’re screening, that would rival anything that came out of a major studio or with a big theatrical release. I mean, we’re really showing some of the best films in the world this year.


SM: What are your all-time favorites?

AP: I always go to Jaws because I feel like it’s one of the great, major studio films that tells a beautiful story, while also being extremely entertaining. I’m a big fan of Lawrence of Arabia. I’m a big fan of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. I like style, I like substance, I like humor, of course. I was watching Monty Python’s Meaning of Life a couple weeks ago. It has a musical number in there called “Every Sperm Is Sacred” and it’s really a great movie musical number. They just went for it and there’s a whole village of people dancing in the streets about why you’re not allowed to use contraception. I have very eclectic tastes—I think I like a little bit of everything. Whether it’s just a human story or the comedy of it or the tragedy of it, I’m interested in a film that tells a good story, with deep characters, and takes you on a journey.


If interested in attending St. Lawrence International Film Festival student passes are only $25.