Paul leaves an immeasurable legacy in both the world of film and theatre

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.