BY MARK WEBER
Red Deer’s Paul Boultbee is one of those people whose talent really seems to know no bounds.
He’s a terrific actor of both stage and screen. He’s an accomplished artist. He stages exhibits of his work that continue to inspire and enlighten and has been doing so for years.
And coming up next week, audiences will be able to get a close-up look at some of Boultbee’s accomplishments in film during ‘Divine Madness: The Films of Paul Boultbee’, which runs Jan. 20th and Jan. 21st at the Welikoklad Event Centre. Both events begin at 7 p.m.
Clips from various projects will be shown, plus two short films in their entirety – Wait Time and Under the Acorn Tree. Both have done very well through the film festival circuit.
Other film roles over the years include Pizney’s Occupation, To the Victor, Final Salutation, Looking Glass and The Cabin.
For more than 30 years, Boultbee has given his time and expertise to work with and mentor students and staff of Red Deer College’s Theatre and Motion Picture Arts programs – he has appeared in more than 20 films produced through the program, according to a release.
As mentioned, Boultbee is well-known too for his exceptional stage work – he’s appeared in a number of the finest productions in the City over the past many years, including Red Deer Players’ Mass Appeal, Ignition Theatre’s Oral Fixations, Corpus Christi, Bug, Deathtrap and Proof – to number just a handful.
As to film, his very first appearance was in Red Deer College’s riveting Naked Frailties – which hit the screen 20 years ago – in fact, a 20th anniversary screening is set for Jan. 27th-28th at the Welikoklad Event Centre as well.
“That was the very first film I ever did in my life,” he recalled during a recent interview. “I played a psychiatrist interviewing the male lead. I think it’s a whole one minute and 10 seconds,” he added with a laugh. But something happened during that shoot; Boultbee found himself thoroughly enjoying the experience. And something of a new path was struck.
“Larry (Reese) was the director. I got to then College President Ron Woodward’s office and I was just sweating buckets because I had no idea what I was doing. I had never done a film,” he said. “There were two actors there, and I think about 11 other people in the room – cameras, lights and sound.” No need to be intimidated.
Boultbee is clearly a natural. He simply nails it every time – no matter what the script demands, and no matter the nature of the character he’s portraying. The same could be said for his stage work, but doing film is a whole other world. The filming process is intricate and can be rather time consuming, whereas theatre obviously offers an immediacy via performing with an audience’s response to your work.
“You don’t really know what it’s like except for the reaction of the director of the other actors,” he said. “But there is an immediacy there too – plus you can do it over and over and over again,” should a given take just not click the first time around.
To Boultbee, both are simply a blast and remain amazingly fulfilling ventures.
Still, he never studied acting officially. He simply learned by doing. And when the Motion Picture Arts Program started at RDC back in the early 2000s, Boultbee’s involvement, in a way, offered a film education with no tuition, he explained with a chuckle.
“Working with students – there are all so enthusiastic about it,” he added. “One of the things that seems to happen, and this works to my advantage, is that invariably the students need an older male to play, for example, the psychiatrist, or the doctor or the teacher. As time goes on, Larry will often say to them, as he has in the past, this is the person you want to talk to – go and see Paul.”
That suits Boultbee perfectly, as it’s always fun to be involved.
As mentioned, Boultbee and Reese’s friendship goes back a few decades. Reese can’t say enough good things about his pal and collaborator.
“I think part of his success as an actor is that he’s got his emotional self readily available,” explained Reese. “That is a very rare thing for someone to have, and to be able to control those emotions and portray a character’s emotions in a believable manner. That is such a special gift.
“He’s also a crossover actor, in that he can rip your heart out and make your heart cry ‘blood’. And at the next show, he’s making you laugh so hard your sides hurt. His range and versatility are wonderful,” said Reese. “He’s also very intelligent, but he doesn’t lord it over you at all. He’s got a sense of humility.”
Reese also pointed out how helpful Boultbee has been so helpful with RDC motion picture arts students over the years as well.
“He’s a wonderful mentor. Also, his ability to perceive situations – I have never, ever seen Paul – in the 30-some years that I have known him – I have never seen him get upset.” Reese laughed as he admitted that as a director, he can get a bit, shall we say, ‘intense’ at times. But those creative bursts of passion have never rattled Boultbee on set.
“He shows patience, understanding, intelligence and he’s able to come back and make the compromise between what he’s doing and what I want him to do work.”
As to the coming event, Reese is thrilled to be able to honour his friend.”This is an out and out celebration of Paul Boutlbee’s commitment, loyalty, mentorship, understanding and his giving of time and support. We have a need to celebrate Paul for the decades of committed time and effort and involvement with RDC with the theatre program and with the film program.”