Global Man magazine had the privilege of interviewing Paul G Andrews, a renowned Film Producer and Screenwriter, who shared insights into his career journey and passion for socially impactful films. Paul, who started his professional life in finance as a Financial Adviser and later ventured into the money markets, found his true calling in the film industry. Headhunted to produce business programs for prominent media networks, he seized the opportunity to follow his passion for movies and transitioned into becoming a Film Producer and Screenwriter.
With a keen eye for projects with captivating stories, Paul seeks out films based on major historical events or best-selling novels that have the potential to inspire positive social change. He has worked with esteemed industry talents like double Oscar-nominated Director Roland Joffé and Thomas Keneally, author of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel “Schindler’s List.”
Paul emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between artistic vision and commercial viability, creating films that entertain audiences while shedding light on significant social issues. His dedication to supporting causes such as mental health awareness, humanitarian issues, and promoting gender and race equality has positioned him as a filmmaker committed to making a difference through the power of storytelling.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into the film industry?
I started my career as a Financial Adviser and later moved into the Money markets and selling investments globally. I was headhunted to run a team which sold/produced short business programmes for CNN, BBC World, and CNBC and featured Fortune 500 companies.
Through this, I met many of the world’s leading CEOs. One of my Production team members was also a screenwriter, and in 2013, he asked me to produce one of his screenplays. As a massive film fan, I decided to follow my passion and became a Film Producer and Screenwriter.
How do you choose which projects to pursue, and what do you look for in a potential film?
The first film was brought to my attention by a work colleague. Now I look for projects that have amazing stories, usually based on major historical events and best-selling novels.
I also look for projects that showcase human endeavour and can help make positive social change or raise awareness of issues such as gender and race inequality, mental health issues, or expose corruption, for example, in government or hidden agendas within the global media.
Can you discuss your experience working with some of the top film talent in the world?
I am currently working with double Oscar-nominated Director Roland Joffé, who is a wonderful person and respected for his Oscar-winning films The Killing Fields and The Mission, featuring Robert De Niro, Liam Neeson, and Jeremy Irons. Also, Thomas Keneally, an author of mine, won the Man Booker Prize for his fabulous novel Schindler’s List (Ark) and is a hero of Steven Spielberg.
Both of them are talented but grounded gentlemen with huge caring personalities and a wish to make the world a better place. Julian Sands was in my last movie, a huge acting talent, and his tragic loss following his disappearance while hiking was widely reported. Al Pacino is being lined up for an upcoming role, so I’m really looking forward to working with him, as well as Armand Assante from American Gangster.
How do you evaluate the success of a film, and what metrics do you use?
For me, the first measure of success is the overall feedback from viewers of a film or, in the case of a screenplay, from judges and International Film Festivals. Of course, we structure all our films to eliminate financial risk and provide investors with the highest ROI. There are many ways of achieving this goal for those in the know.
It’s always best to start with a fabulous screenplay that has won awards and has a defined audience and financial sales. Many projects that go into production are financed through contacts and not because they are the best projects. So, it’s a “who you know” business, for sure.
Can you talk about the process of putting together a film, from concept to finished production?
To do this best, I will use an example of a film screenplay called “ON PAR,” which I wrote. It was based on a teenager I know who suffers from mental health issues (severe depression and anxiety). Some days, he simply cannot function. I discovered that this was a widespread problem and an “invisible illness.” He is also a budding rapper.
I wanted to cover all teenage issues: love problems, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, broken homes, gender identity, fitting in, etc., so I created a character who was insular, and a story line that allowed these issues to be portrayed while still entertaining the audience.
The screenplay was written and WON 20 International Film Festivals, where there are usually 1,000-plus entrants, so I know I had a WINNER. It’s “8 MILE” meets “ROMEO & JULIET” and set in a ROUGH south London school. Next, we raise funding (the budget), and we begin to approach cast members, such as Dua Lipa, to play opposite the young male lead, as the female lead is a budding singer.
Once the cast is confirmed, we would go into pre-production, followed by the shoot itself (perhaps 6 weeks), and during post-production, we would be marketing the film’s cinematic release or selling it to platforms like Netflix or Amazon for substantially more than the budget (this may have been done way before filming in some cases).
What challenges have you faced in your career, and how have you overcome them?
I think the greatest challenges early on were to get interviews for the top jobs in investment banking due to the somewhat “protected” interviewing system back in the 1980s, which was very different from now. Also, working for other people was always going to limit my ambition.
So, I set up my own businesses while learning skill sets I knew I would need, such as communications, learning about the psychology of selling and marketing, self-motivation, and mixing with people who are already successful and where I wanted to be.
We are always learning, and it’s important to be persistent but also to be fluent and knowledgeable about your own product or service, as well as what is happening in the world and history because too many people make factually incorrect statements nowadays, and it’s a lazy and fast way to fail. Nothing replaces hard work and sacrifice. LUCK stands for “Labour Under Correct Knowledge!”
How do you balance artistic vision with commercial viability in your film productions?
By taking on projects that I believe will appeal to a wide audience or cover significant events for the first time. Also, by keeping up with changes in the way people think and make decisions, and presenting the artistic material in such a way that both sides can agree with you on the factual content.
Can you discuss your involvement in supporting social change and mental health issues through your films?
I touched on this earlier with my screenplay “ON PAR.” We are supporting Prince William’s Heads Together campaign, which links the top UK Mental Health Charities under one umbrella to support awareness, particularly with younger adults where it has become more prevalent, especially since COVID.
We are also filming humanitarian projects covering issues like starvation/famine due to government policies, atrocities in war, and FGM (especially in Africa against women), as well as corruption in the Media and Government. Additionally, we support race and gender equality by supporting Women In Film and creating great lead roles for heroic women characters by employing them as Directors, Producers, and Heads of Department.
How do you see the film industry evolving in the next decade, and how are you preparing for those changes?
The industry has seen huge changes due to COVID and the way people stream content. I always think there will be a market for big movies. Like Orwell predicted in his novel 1984, small businesses will struggle as the global giants swallow up all competition. In a very competitive market, the very best will survive and make money. They changed the rules for qualification for the Best Film Oscar this week. Hollywood has shown itself to buckle to this pressure, and while I’m a huge supporter of human rights in all areas, some of the extreme decisions being made (caused by a minute delusional minority) could well have an adverse effect.
I see a huge backlash coming as “sensible” people start to speak out. I’m preparing the best films so that they speak for themselves, and issues such as mass starvation, war, equality, homelessness, child abuse become front-page news and are not buried in these constant and boring discussions about “what do I identify as today, and what’s my pronoun.”
What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers and producers?
Start small and focus on building a great reputation with high-quality work. Don’t make instant decisions when meeting other producers, and thoroughly check out who you are dealing with.