Paul Carr is an indie filmmaker who isn’t afraid to take on tough and interesting subjects

by Ed Blackadder

Paul Carr is a Chicago-based filmmaker who has made five feature films and several short films. His films run the gamut of subject matter from political satire to dark comedy.

He has even made a silent film shot in the deserts of New Mexico as well as an an art film set to opera. He has been an independent filmmaker for more than a decade and recently shared his film American Barbarian with us.

INFLUX: What are you currently working on that you can share with us?

PAUL: I’m currently working on my first documentary about a famous jazz club, which should be finished around the end of 2024.

INFLUX: What are your hopes and goals for this project?

PAUL: My documentary will attract a lot of interest, I’m sure. The stories covered in the film are given by a group of people with over 200 years of experience working or playing music at the night club.

INFLUX: What have been your greatest challenges as an indie filmmaker?

PAUL: Funding is never easy, and finding the right editor is critical. I’ve had to be quite resourceful to make my films happen.

INFLUX: What has been your most significant accomplishment on this filmmaking journey so far?

PAUL: Continuing to produce entertaining films that tell stories that cover some of the biggest issues we face today–racism, America in the Trump era, ecology–while using dark comedy to enhance the viewer experience.

INFLUX: Tell us about some of your past projects and where we can watch them if they’re available?

PAUL: My only slapstick comedy, Casual Criminals, is something any Mel Brooks or Pink Panther fan will enjoy. The film won multiple awards in nearly every category imaginable and is now streaming on Tubi and Prime, among others. My portrait of America facing the existential crisis of the Trump-era, American Barbarian, also won numerous awards and is a film that so many women, in particular, have told me really resonated with them. American Barbarian is on Tubi, Prime and other platforms as well.

INFLUX: Let’s talk a bit about American Barbarian, which I just recently watched. What can you tell us about the inspiration and development of American Barbarian?

PAUL: The inspiration and development for American Barbarian came about immediately following the election of Donald Trump. The reaction to his election, among countless people I know. both personally or met later, was visceral and traumatic for many. Women I know expressed fears for their very rights as women, and their reproductive rights, which we now know were negatively impacted by Trump’s election. The film was a psychological portrait of existential fear and I took this impetus and strove to create a strong narrative that would truly connect with people. I felt compelled to create a story that wasn’t a simple documentary about Trump and compilation of dry factoids, but an absurd depiction of life in the USA, at turns grotesque, hilarious, or heartbreaking. Numerous audience members both here and abroad in Europe spoke to me personally about their visceral reaction to Trump’s election and concerns about the future.

INFLUX: You mention that this movie has really resonated with people, especially women. Can you tell us a little more about that?

PAUL: I can’t count the number of times a woman (most of whom I had yet to meet) said something like, “That’s my life story.”  “Zoe’s character is what I went through with my own family.” Or things of that nature. Many women in particular spoke of the rupture that occurred in their family and was a source of continuing distress. It was amazing how often I heard this reaction in states all around the US and also in Europe at film festivals.

INFLUX: American Barbarian clearly takes political sides to make its point. Has there been any response from the opposition since its release?

PAUL: I did meet some guys from the state of Georgia at a festival, who told me they expected to hate the film but actually enjoyed it. That was refreshing to hear. I think most people will see this film as a political satire, which has a long tradition across many art forms and to me is an invaluable device to spark conversation and debate. The dark comedy of my film appeals to many, I believe, regardless of viewpoint. And I’ve always said that if you don’t like a film’s viewpoint, then get off your ass and make one from your own viewpoint.

INFLUX: Any plans for a sequel depending on the outcome of the 2024 election?

PAUL: At this point I’ve moved on to other projects and have zero plans for a sequel, but I do think a sequel could be quite compelling, so I guess you never know. I think American Barbarian stands as a valuable time capsule of history and depicts this tumultuous era in a way that hits home quite accurately.

INFLUX: What goals to you have for yourself moving forward?

PAUL: I will always have more stories I’d like to tell. My upcoming documentary is my main focus for the remainder of 2024.

INFLUX: What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out?

PAUL: Nothing profound, really. It’s all about hard work and perseverance. Sometimes I wish I’d started earlier, but the stories I accumulated in the meantime are invaluable and I believe my films ring true for that reason.

INFLUX: How do you choose your subject matter?

PAUL: I find that my films often portray an underdog or a character victimized by forces in society such as bigotry and injustice. I like to shed light on the struggles and victories of the oppressed.

More Info about Paul can be found Facebook, Instagram, and IMDB.

Photo Credit: Jeanne Cuff