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Paul Devlin, Director: THE FRONT MAN

March 4, 2014
Paul Devlin, director

Paul Devlin, director

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of THE FRONT MAN, from concept to financing.

Thirteen years ago, I tried to create a fictional character for a screenplay based on my buddy Jim Wood [from Loaded Poets]. I’ve known Jim since kindergarten and he’s always been the most charismatic, clever, humorous person in the room. All of us have known someone like Jim growing up – that guy who will definitely be famous someday.

But my attempt to convey his character in fictional form fell short. So I decided to start shooting him on video every time we got together. That made more sense anyway, given my background as a documentary filmmaker. Of course Jim loved the idea, though we had no specific goal in mind beyond laughing a lot and capturing some great moments.

While I continued making other films, I kept returning to the The Front Man. Soon, I got deeper into the lives of Jim and his wife Christie, as well as Jim’s bandmates John Kayne and Dan Snyder. Story threads emerged that we could never have anticipated. I added archival footage to the mix and this haphazard project gradually took on epic proportions as I essentially captured Jim’s entire adulthood over a 27-year period. The Front Man supports the idea that any well-documented life can provide material for a compelling story.

Even more gratifying were the profound thematic undercurrents that emerged by following Jim for decades. The Front Man raises compelling questions about how any artist measures success.  Is the purpose of creative endeavor personal satisfaction or to communicate to the widest audience possible? Can an artist balance his or her work with a family and well-paying day job, or do these represent dangerous distractions from the primary goal of attaining riches and immortality through artistic achievement?  What if the success you seek is not the success you achieve? If you’re not famous, have you failed?

The Front Man tackles these timeless but elusive questions head-on. It does so not by interviewing expert talking heads, nor by surveying dozens of artists. Instead, by following one man over the course of most of his adult life, The Front Man takes a more ambitious, in-depth approach.  Through this singular personal story, The Front Man discovers universal insights

2Q: Cinequest is proud to host the World Premiere of THE FRONT MAN.  Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?

We love the love we’re feeling from Cinequest and feel very much “at home” premiering the film here. We think our film is basically everyone’s story, so we expect the audience will like what they see in this mirror.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making THE FRONT MAN?

The best experience was keeping in close touch with the subject, Jim Wood. It was also the worst experience.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

How many documentaries can claim to be comedies, How many explore the arc of a romantic relationship over decades? (You mean it’s a love story and a comedy and a documentary??!!) How many documentaries make audiences re-think what a documentary can be?

Quite simply: The Front Man is your story. It is downright fun. It is poignant. It will stay with you and tap your brain on the shoulder as you carry on with your life.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Best Director Oscar for THE FRONT MAN.  Give us your acceptance speech.

Thank you!!!! This Oscar is officially for sale in order to crawl out of debt from this film.

See THE FRONT MAN at Cinequest!
View the Trailer!


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