Tag Archives: paul devlin

On Tour: Paul Devlin bids the tour farewell in Rehoboth Beach, DE

26 Apr

Executive Director of the Rehoboth Film Society, Sue Early, was concerned about the BLAST! screening in Rehoboth, Delaware. There were only 5 tickets sold in advance. The event was at a huge multiplex, Movies at Midway, so my wife Emily and I were concerned as well – How could we compete with these blockbuster Hollywood movies?

Movies at Midway

But the Film Society has its own screening room in the building, and a very dedicated membership. The final BLAST! show of the tour had a great turnout! Since it was our last chance, Emily and I came back to watch the back half of the movie with the audience. It was very gratifying to hear their very vocal reactions, gasping and laughing in all the right places.

Nice turnout for the screening

As always, the discussion afterward was active, intelligent and fun. Sue had arranged for Douglas Miller, Associate Professor University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, to join me upfront. I fielded the science questions as best I could, then handed more detailed follow-up over to Doug. The audience had a wide range of interests, from how the science team used other astronomical observations in their data analysis, to the techniques I employed to heighten the drama of the narrative.

I am so thankful to the audiences who joined us on this tour. It was fun to meet them face-to-face and to serve them by engaging their interests directly. They inspired me with their enthusiasm and energized me with their kind, encouraging words about my work.

Thanks to the National Endowments for the Arts for making these touring programs possible with their funding, and to the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, especially Ann Turiano and Brigid Myers, for the hard work making sure all the logistics ran smoothly. I will be encouraging my filmmaking colleagues to participate and look forward to seeing the program spread and grow, both in the quality and number of the films and the development of the audiences.

On the ferry from Delaware

Post by Paul Devlin, OSIP touring filmmaker

Thanks for joining us for the tour, Paul (and Emily)! We’re delighted that audiences across the mid-Atlantic could experience BLAST!

To read all posts by this filmmaker, please click here!


On Tour: Busted by the cops in Frederick, MD!

25 Apr

We got busted by an undercover policeman in Frederick, MD!

But first a pit stop: After Annapolis my wife Emily and I went to Georgetown to visit my good friend Piers Lewis. Piers stars in my movie, Power Trip, about corruption, assassination and street rioting caused by the energy crisis in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Nowadays, Piers is back in the States, working on breakthrough electricity storage for renewable energy sources. We met his new daughter Veronica, for the first time!

Back to the bust: In so many ways Frederick, Maryland it is a lovely town – lots of history, the Weinberg Center is thriving with culture and we had fun spending our money at the many antique shops. But during an excellent meal at the hopping Firestone Grill, a local man gave us an ominous warning: DO NOT get pulled over by police here.

Funny, at first we hadn’t noticed much police presence at all. We witnessed a drunken screaming match between an older couple at the scenic creek, and two local drunks ejected from the Public Library by security. Later a woman claiming to be a schizophrenic in need of medication harassed us once on the street and then again in our parked car. Police nowhere in sight.

Later we discovered where they were. Three undercover cops were detaining pedestrians walking across one of the main intersections. Violators had a choice – ticket or pamphlet. Apparently the lecture was mandatory. We’re talking small town, get across in a few steps and cars moving very slowly. Was this really a safety issue, or are police here just incredibly paternalistic?

Or maybe the motivation is simply revenue: When we were leaving town, I made a right at this intersection. I waited for the two pedestrians in the crosswalk to pass by and continued my turn. Apparently, another pedestrian stepped off the curb as I was doing so. The undercover officer unholstered his walky-talky, and within seconds we were pulled over by a waiting police car.

Officer Payne

The uniformed officer explained that I had not waited for the first two pedestrians to get both feet back on the curb. The undercover officer insisted that he and his 2 undercover colleagues had seen the other pedestrian step off the curb before I made my turn. Contradiction notwithstanding, the result was an $80 ticket. No pamphlet option for us.

Such a shame that this experience permanently interrupted our discussion to return to Frederick with Piers and his family for more antique shopping. It also overshadowed another excellent screening of BLAST!, this time at the Cultural Arts Center. The audience members were super engaged and enthusiastic about the film. One teacher expressed great admiration for the on-screen tenacity of my brother Mark and his team. She was excited to use the film in her science class to demonstrate the payoff of perseverance despite initial failure. Perfect! She and her husband brought along their boys, ages thirteen and (almost) ten. Always fun to have kids in the audience.

The universe is cool!

And we received impressive press in Frederick, both in the Gazette and the Frederick News Post. Full-page in print!

Great press in Frederick

Onward to the beach in Rehoboth, with our $80 souvenir summons in the glove compartment. (Luckily we sold lots of DVDs to cover it!)

Post by Paul Devlin, OSIP touring filmmaker

To read all posts by this filmmaker, please click here!

On Tour: A Busy Night at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

23 Apr

Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, Maryland is a former high school that at one time was destined to be leveled into a parking lot. Thankfully, it has instead become a thriving community gathering place. As I walked through the halls, peeking into the re-purposed classrooms, I was impressed by rows of dancers doing rigorous exercises, listened to singers practicing opera, and watched youngsters giving piano recitals. I even saw a class of potters at their wheels. In the auditorium, the mayor was defending his budget. And then, my movie BLAST! was playing to an enthusiastic audience!

Posters all over

This crowd included some tech-savvy people who were blown away by what happened on screen. They seemed flabbergasted that the scientists had to subject such incredibly sophisticated instrumentation (How do the the detectors work? How does the telescope point with such precision when dangling beneath a balloon?) to such an inherently risky process (You mean they can’t control where it floats, it’s just moving with the wind? How does the telescope separate from the balloon? What caused the parachute separation to fail?) The lively Q&A evolved into an extended conversation about how BLAST! portrays the humanity of scientist in ways we rarely see elsewhere and the challenges of science education in the United States.

The lively discussion

When I met him that afternoon, Director Thomas Fridrich had explained that this is one of the first times the Maryland Hall has participated in a film series. But as far as I could tell, they were doing a great job so far. BLAST! was printed up on their monthly brochure; I picked up a separate flyer that included an announcement for BLAST! right beneath one for Merle Haggard, who had played there the night before; and out front was a huge banner on the facade of the building promoting the entire On Screen/in Person Film Series. Great start, if you ask me. Look for good things from Annapolis as the Maryland Hall develops its independent film audience.

Reaching the community

My wife Emily had to teach in New York, so we planned to meet up the following day in Washington DC. Instead she surprised me and showed up in the middle of the Q&A! Very happy she did, because Annapolis is a cute, historical town and she is going to enjoy exploring it.

At the docks

Exploring Annapolis

Back on the Tour together!

Post by Paul Devlin, OSIP touring filmmaker

To read all posts by this filmmaker, please click here!

On Tour: Homecoming in New Brunswick, NJ

18 Apr

The BLAST! screening at Rutgers was a homecoming of sorts. I grew up nearby and some of my childhood buddies showed up. Problem was they were unfamiliar with the Busch Campus. So Jim Wood volunteered to be a human billboard and direct traffic to the screening. Perfect man for job! Jim is the star of my upcoming movie The Front Man  a romantic musicomedy about what it means to pursue your art in a society where anything short of celebrity is failure.

Jim Wood-The Front Man

Speaking of celebrity, local musician Jigs Giglio, also made an appearance. He’s one of the stars of my first documentary Rockin’ Brunswick.  I’ve known both Jigs and Jim since kindergarten. I guess, if I know you long enough, you end up in one of my movies.

Professor Thomas Devlin

My father, Thomas Devlin, was a physics professor at Rutgers for 40 years before he retired to Philadelphia to work in astrophysics with my brother Mark at University of Pennsylvania. He was in charge of the renovation that doubled the size of the Serin Physics building where the movie played.

Mark & Paul Devlin

Both my father and my brother Mark, who stars in the movie, joined us for the screening. Saved my butt with this crowd, because Mark was able to field all the science questions. There were quite a few youngsters in the audience. It is always gratifying to know that BLAST! is inspiring budding scientists. One science teacher in the audience suggested that BLAST! should be showing in every high school in the country – sounds good to me!

Future scientists

Afterwards, a bunch of us met up at The Old Bay Restaurant downtown for a very festive dinner. Great to be back in New Brunswick!

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker Paul Devlin

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On Tour: Paul Devlin in Erie, PA

16 Apr

Lake Erie

Mercyhurst University is another gorgeous small college campus that I was unaware of, this time in Erie PA. Their Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center contains a large, impressive theater and the organizers have a lot going on. They had already set up a write-up in the Erie newspaper and my schedule was packed. Didn’t even have time to get to the hotel until it was all over.

Mercyhurst College

From the airport, I was whisked immediately to a video interview on the stage of the huge 800-seat theater with Jamie Grady, director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture. Jamie had done his research, so it was smart, fast-paced and went straight to Facebook and YouTube.

The filmmaker with Jamie Grady and his son Kell

Jamie took me to lunch in downtown Erie, along with his son Kell (who says he wants to be a video game tester when he grows up – 9-year old DREAM JOB). Jamie has only been in his position for 4 weeks, fresh off a two-year adventure in New Zealand working in culture and arts funding, part of a very diverse career.

We talked about the challenges that all arts funding is facing, and noted the parallels between organizations like his and individuals like me. Part of his long-term plan at Mercyhurst is to set up an educational component that is informed by the work her does at the Performing Arts Center. He is very interested in the theory and practice of developing and nurturing dedicated audiences both on campus and in the larger community. Freshmen who are exposed to unfamiliar cultural events because of classroom requirements, for example, are more likely to try something new on their own by the time they are seniors.

Onstage at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

Two screenings of BLAST! afternoon and evening, and both well-attended. I’m noticing that even on campuses, the crowd is made up of a lot of older folks. It turns out retirees are great audiences, wiling and able to take advantage of cultural opportunities like this and committed supporters of the arts. They are enthusiastic in discussions afterwards, and very encouraging, providing a nice psychic boost with their kind words for independents like me.

And they buy DVDs! These have been selling fairly well so far. At least enough that I’ve been paying cash for room service and haven’t yet had to go to the ATM so far on tour. Thanks guys! In between screenings, more interviews kept me busy.

First with Alaina Rydzewski, the managing editor of the student newspaper, Merciad. She complained of senioritis and hadn’t seen BLAST! before she interviewed me (big No-No for a journalist, Alaina–remember that when you’re ready to go pro!) But we had a fun chat and her piece is here.

Recording the Open Door Rapport Podcast

Immediately followed by an audio podcast interview with Jim Coyne and Tom Schaefer, two Mercyhurst students who have started a new site of podcasts, called Open Door Rapport. We had a sprawling, stimulating conversation about filmmaking and distribution that was very enjoyable. Keep an eye on these guys!

Tiny plane to Philly!

Back on the plane! Next up my home turf, Rutgers and New Brunswick, NJ!

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Paul Devlin

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On Tour: BLAST! in Allentown, PA

13 Apr

Inner workings at the Silverball Museum

On the way to Allentown, we took an excursion to Asbury Park. Highlight was the Silverball Museum on the boardwalk. It’s full of gorgeously maintained vintage pinball machines.  The space reverberates  with that familiar clanging noise and each machine is accompanied by a detailed description of its history and playing strategy. Turns out the owner also owns the Cluck U Chicken Company. His daughter is autistic, but he discovered that she responded well to pinball machines. So he started buying them for her. The collection evolved into this museum. Fun to see the complicated inside of one of these machines.

Da Vinci Science Center

Two hours on the road, brought us to the Da Vinci Science Center, right near Dorney Amusement Park in Allentown, PA.  BLAST! has exposed me to a network of these affiliated organizations, such as The Franklin Institute in  Philadelphia and the Coca-Cola Science Center in Georgia.  They always have the most fun, interactive exhibits and are a great way to get young people excited about science. Which of course is exactly what we want to do with  BLAST! as well.

Inside the Da Vinci Science Center

As might be expected at a science center, most of the questions after the screening were about science. There was even a scientist in the audience who asked a technical question about what kind of detectors the telescope used.  Uh-oh. Since I’m not a scientist myself, these are the times I wish my astrophysicist brother Mark (who stars in BLAST!) were with me. When we appear together, I pass those questions on to him. But this time, I had to channel him and remember how he has answered these questions in the past. Hopefully, I did OK, but I can just picture him shaking his head…

Struggling with those science questions!

My cousin Colleen Dooley happens to live in Allentown. She came to the screening with her husband Peter, their daughters, Kate and Caroline and friend Emily. I haven’t seen Kate and Caroline since the were 5 years old. Now they’re 17 and almost as tall as I am!  We all went out after the show and had a great time catching up!

Emily, Paul, & Cousins

Next up Erie, PA, near the Canadian border in the northwest corner of Pennsylvania.  First plane ride of the tour!

Post by Paul Devlin, OSIP touring filmmaker

To read all posts by this filmmaker, please click here!

On Tour: Paul Devlin brings BLAST! to Monmouth University

11 Apr

The BLAST! Tour is underway! For more about the film click here.

First I want to thank Ann Turiano, Brigid Myers and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. I LOVE the booklet they put together with all the details of every stop – transportation, hotels, driving directions and miscellaneous instructions. We’re in good hands and that makes the logistics easy. I’m recommending On Screen/In Person to all my filmmaker friends!

My wife Emily Raabe had to change her planned trip to California at the last minute, so now she’s on the Tour with me! (Apologies for the last minute change Ann & Brigid – thanks for accommodating!) Much more fun to share the travel.

Cedar and Beeches B&B

First stop is my home state of New Jersey, in West Long Branch, near the beaches where I used to hang at in high school. The Cedar and Beeches B&B is gorgeous. Monmouth University is a very pretty campus, and the beneficiary of the palatial private residences of some of the richest Americans. The huge library is the former summer residence of the Guggenheim family and Wilson Hall (where BLAST! screened) is one of about 20 American palaces built in the Neo-Classical style in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is spectacular!

Wilson Hall

Our host, professor and artist Andrew Demirjian,  brought us to the campus dining hall for some lively conversation about media, film, and and academia. The sundae bar/pasta bar/cereal bar/cupcake table also reminded why I gained 10 pounds my freshmen year in college…

Andrew & Emily admiring Wilson Hall

The screening went well. I had not seen BLAST! in a long time and it was refreshing to watch it again, especially since I’m in the midst of editing my next project The Front Man. Nice to be reminded that I can successfully finish a difficult edit. While the attendance was not overwhelming, the Q & A and discussion after the screening more than made up for it. This film always brings up a broad range of questions, from science facts to sibling relationships to the existence of God…

Wilson Hall (Palace) Fountain Room

A friend who was at the screening told us a funny story about the battle for attendance at events: years ago, he received an education grant to promote a lecture series at the school where he was a teacher. The first of three weeks, he promoted heavily to his colleagues. Only one person showed up. The lecturer was not happy. The next week, Rob photocopied a $100 bill with the message, “If you want this, come to the lecture.” The 2nd week 7 people showed up. After the event, Rob gave them each a $100 bill. The 3rd and final week, Rob made no more promises and did not promote at all. He had a packed house, and fulfilled the obligations of his grant. (And didn’t have to give out any more $100 bills!)

Onward to Allentown, PA!

Post by Paul Devlin, OSIP touring filmmaker

To read all posts by this filmmaker, please click here!

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