Close to Home: Theater Professor Makes Leap to Film

new-life1.JPEGThe short movie, based on a story by Mary Ward Brown, was shot in Central Maine with local talent.

March 12, 2008
After 40 years of working as a stage director, Paul Kuritz decided to make a movie.

Kuritz, a professor of theater at Bates College in Lewiston, made his film, “New Life,” as part of developing a new course on acting and directing for film.

The movie will be premiered on Saturday at the college’s Olin Arts Center.

“New Life,” said Kuritz, “is the story of a woman who has lost her husband, and she seems emotionally bottled up.”

The widow is driven to seek comfort from a group of Christians, and the film deals with the consequences.

The movie was shot on digital video and is a little more than a half-hour long.

Kuritz adapted the screenplay for the film from a short story by author Mary Ward Brown. Although her story was set in the South, Kuritz found the themes translated well to rural Maine.

“New Life” took about two weeks to shoot. Kuritz used nearby locations and relied on local talent for the cast and crew.

“We had actors from Bates and actors from Central Maine,” said Kuritz.

There was a lot of community cooperation, said Kuritz. Even members of the Lewiston Police Department appear in the film. “We had everything except for money,” he said.

“We had a goal to see what kind of movie we could make,” Kuritz said. “The results of this will be on display.”

Although he has a lifelong involvement in theater, Kuritz more recently has studied filmmaking at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport.

Kuritz found directing a movie was not all that different from directing a play.

“The process is very similar once you realize you’re dependent on the skills of other people,” he said. “But the star of a movie is the camera and the star of a stage play is the actor — you have to acknowledge where the center of the universe is.”

Kuritz is not sure whether he’ll make more films. “We’ll have to see what the reaction to this is,” he said.

“I think Central Maine is a very interesting place to make movies,” Kuritz said. “If I make more, it will be here. I just have to find the right story.”

Copyright © 2008 Blethen Maine Newspapers

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