Ron Glassman's Memorial Thoughts

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.