Sadly, the family of Paul Gray along with many of his colleagues, announce that he passed away on January 13, 2018. Paul leaves an immeasurable legacy in both the world of film and theatre. For nearly sixty years he taught, mentored, consulted, wrote, produced and directed plays and films.
His work reached far and wide. His concepts of subtext and mise-en-scene are unique in the creative realm. For many years he utilized these concepts in ground-breaking plays and films. He also taught these same concepts to writers, directors, producers and young
filmmakers who recognized their value in telling stories on the stage and in front of the camera.
After completing graduate school work at the University of Iowa, Mr. Gray was offered a position at SUNY Plattsburgh where he soon found himself the head of a one-man theatre department. Undaunted and never one to shy from a challenge, his productions found recognition beyond the confines of upstate New York, winning state-wide competitions and being invited to the Yale Drama Festival. Plattsburgh led to Bennington College in Vermont where he was hired to build a theatre department. His productions were effused with imagery and extraordinary performances. Again, there was acclaim for the originality of the productions.
It was during this time that Mr. Gray put into practice his concepts of mise-en-scene and subtext. The productions where highly visual and interdisciplinary. His visual awareness and intense use of images in directing the actor and set design created a world on the stage of many layers; it was a world full of complexities, metaphors, pulsating performances; but above all, it was a story-telling experience.
Understanding that imagery was the root of how he interpreted and told dramatic stories, it was natural that he look to film as a way to tell a story. While interviewing Ingmar Bergman for the Tulane Drama Review (now known as the Drama Review), Mr. Bergman, himself a theatre and film director, urged Paul to transition to film.
In the early 1970’s, following a job offer in Switzerland at the Universite du Nouveau Monde to head the film department turned out to be too good to be true, Mr. Gray established the Gray Film Atelier in Brussels and then moved it to Hoosick Falls, NY. The Atelier was modeled on the Hollywood studio structure. Aspiring filmmakers, known as apprentices, learned all the stages of making a movie. From 1972 – 1980 apprentices were taught treatment, research, screenwriting, directing, cinematography and editing. Like all of his undertakings, Mr. Gray was uncompromising in the effort he put into mentoring the young filmmakers who came from all over the globe to work with him. For many years the Atelier had nearly twenty apprentices each year, learning from him and assisting him on his independent productions.
Following the Atelier, Mr. Gray moved to California and became a much sought-after screenwriting and directing consultant. He also began teaching seminars in screenwriting and directing. As the seminar’s reputations grew, he travelled the world to teach and consult.
His dedication to his work and to his students and apprentices is unsurpassed. Raised by a single mother in Brooklyn, NY, he learned to survive with guile and guts at an early age and he never lost that edge, wearing it on his shoulder like a badge of honor.
The last public performance of Paul’s work was a salon reading from a book he was writing. Titled “No-good Boyo,” the book was loosely based on his boyhood adventures growing up in the multi-cultural Brooklyn of the 1940’s.
On January 24, 2018 a celebration of Paul’s life was held at the residence in Atascadero, CA where Paul and Gretchen called home for 25 years. The house was filled with former students and colleagues, many of whom traveled hours to spend an afternoon sharing their memories of a man who so affected their lives. Those who could not make it sent their memories to be shared with those present. So many, from so many different walks of life, expressed similar thoughts: he was a mentor, he was a teacher, he changed my life, I owe so much to him, he made me who I am. And of course, all shared his notorious penchant for telling a bad joke or reciting a pun. Humor was a tool that never left his side; whether to make a point, put someone at ease or unease if the situation called for it, Paul always knew how best to get an idea across so that it was understood. The teacher in him always prevailed.
Along with his devotion to family and work Paul was an avid Brooklyn Dodger and NY Mets fan. His love of baseball was always his way to escape the demands of work. Paul is survived by his wife of 62 years, Gretchen, a writer and actress who worked by his side since meeting him at an audition. They have four children; Pauli, Gabriella, Gwendolyn, and Glynda, a granddaughter Dylan and two great grandchildren.
From Ron Glassman
Almost forty-three years ago, after one year of college, I became an apprentice filmmaker in the god forsaken village of Hoosick Falls, a hamlet buried in upstate NY next to---nothing---with a man whose attire never was going to make the cover of GQ. He wore either a Brooklyn Dodger or New York Mets’ hat, had one gold earring, owned 2 boxers, had 4 kids, 1 red VW microbus and 1 wife – who as everyone here knows, is more than enough for any man.
Had I lost my mind? Probably.
As it turned out, that was a good thing. Over the years I have looked back at this time – the beginning was September 1975 – and it was from that moment forward, I learned how to think.
Paul was first a teacher and mentor, later a colleague and always a friend. What was it that kept our friendship alive? Well it certainly wasn’t the jokes…though my penchant for hearing a joke and instantaneously forgetting it made me a great foil for Paul – the ultimate storyteller. And I’m not a masochist, so what was the reason that we grew from the teacher/student relationship to colleagues and most importantly friends?
Paul saw in me things that I didn’t know how to reach in myself. Like his immense talents in discovering a flaw in a script or the ability to inspire actors to reach within and bring forth brilliant performances, he took this suburban kid and helped me discover the creative part of my brain.
His approach to the creative process has been with me since the days of sitting in a cold barn late at night and having a new one ripped out of me in a class called “treatment and projection.” I more aptly phrased the class, “shock treatment and cross projection.”
These classes where the ultimate Paul. Whether it was a treatment or a cut of a film, we, the students, would present and then there would be a “go around” where everyone commented on the work in progress. It was never based on good or bad, but rather what worked and what did not work.
After all the students went, then “mild” Gretchen had her moment and finally Paul. He would stand up, hitch up his pants, and start to pace. We sat in a circle and he would patrol the perimeter. We where then in for the show! Yes it was a show, but it was an insightful show, one that got to the core of the story or film and usually touched on the core of the person at the same time. There was no need for psychoanalysis following these sessions. They could be brutal – your ego was always the first to feel the punch… running through your head, “my work is no good, I’m not meant to tell stories and make movies,” but Paul never saw it that way. He looked at the work, he looked at the student and he made you see how you could improve your work. In these sessions we learned how to analyze our work – these lessons have been with me ever since.
Over the course of time, after he and GG moved out here, our relationship nurtured. We collaborated on projects and I always was the one to benefit from working with him.
Not all was business or educational. Paul and Gretchen took me to my first strip show – I think it was Schenectady, NY and somewhere in my photo files there is a photo of Paul, Gretchen and Kim in the men’s room of some BBQ joint nearby. Paul had to show us the communal trough for peeing. This was the boyish part of him that was the other side of the honed brain.
I can see his devilish face trying hard to contain a smile because he ate pie for breakfast and didn’t want Gretchen to know – yet he could never contain himself. There were many “don’t tell Gretchen” moments over the years – and then he would tell her!
My life changed for the better knowing and working with Paul. He was a genius. His ideas and concepts are unmatched in the creative sphere.
Though I, “Ronald-Donald” and Kim, “Nursie,” cannot be with you today, our hearts lie near. All of us are better off for knowing him. He will be missed…time will move forward and we will move forward, our hearts heavy with his passing, but we can take solace in knowing that his effect on us remains and that will be with us forever.
Whenever we ended a phone conversation he would say “good-bye Cat.” So to end, I want to say, rest in peace, Cat.
We are an independent motion picture producing and development entity headed by husband and wife team, Paul and Gretchen Gray. Located on the Central Coast of California, with an office in Beverly Hills, the company is devoted to the development and production of original digital movies and interactive projects. A network of Atelier film artists from around the country have contributed to the company’s projects, many of them on-line.
- January 17, 2018: Paul Thomas Gray's Obituary
- January 13, 2018: Paul leaves an immeasurable legacy in both the world of film and theatre
- February 20, 2009: Public preview of "Everyman" sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Art Center scheduled in San Luis Obispo, California.
- February 14, 2009: Private sneak preview of "Everyman" sponsored by Atelier Pictures scheduled in Atascadero, California
- January 31, 2009: Final edit of "Everyman" completed. Print locked.
- May 1, 2008: New Atelier Pictures wesite launched.
- May 5, 2008: New film, "The Ballad of Dorothy Dunn," complete.
- May 30 & 31, 2008: HopeDance Special Screening of The Ballad of Dorothy Dunn.
- July 17, 2008: North County Democratic Club screens THE BALLAD OF DOROTHY DUNN as a Feed the Hungry fund raiser.
- August 4, 2008: Internship openings announced by Atelier Pictures.
- August 11, 2008:Post production phase begins for EVERYMAN, Paul Gray's post apocalyptic adaptation of the Medieval mystery play.
- October 18, 2008: "The Ballad of Dorothy Dunn" goes national! DVD release set.