Thursday, September 28, 2017

30 years ago today....

It’s amazing to think that it was 30 years ago, TODAY, that Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered its very first episode on Fox (September 28th, 1989).

7 seasons and 176 episodes later (I’m not embarrassed to say that I watched all 176 episodes live, when they first aired) the show remains a true gem!  A Saturday night escape that I looked forward to every single week it aired and often ran around the house in utter excitement “overload” when an episode had completed (and don’t even get me started on those cliff hangers! Ahhh!).

While shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Mr Ed, Moonlighting, He-Man, OZ, and Ducktales were, for different reasons, all deeply important to me, STTNG easily takes the prize and remains the most profoundly influential television show of my life and my career.

I have always been drawn to Gene Roddenberry’s positive and inclusive vision of our future.  The idea that we could evolve beyond our differences to accept one another was (and still is) something I believe in.  A future where different people (and aliens) worked in unison and without prejudice or hate to explore and evolve!  I also loved that these characters were in the pursuit of knowledge, not for power or wealth or God, but for the sake of knowledge itself!

To this day, I still so vividly remember the final scene, of the final episode of the series and tear up when I think about it.  I have not watched the episode in probably 20 years but I remember the bridge crew laughing and playing poker, after they had solved the week’s emergency/mystery/challenge.  
There is suddenly an alert from the door, interrupting them.  Riker yells “enter” and the doors open revealing Captain Picard.  Picard has never joined his crew for these off duty moments.  For context, this is the point I began to cry, because I knew what was happening…  Picard enters and asks if he might join them.  He sits down, and is offered the cards by Data so he can deal.  There is a moment, camera stays on Picard as he looks around the table, at each person, his friends, his family really, and he says simply “I should have done this a long time ago.”  
The card game starts and we as fans were given the most beautiful and eloquent end to a show, ever, in my opinion.  A show that over its seven years taught humility, understanding, hope, and that humans, when they work together, can solve any problem.  
A show that even in it’s final moments had another lesson to teach, that family is who we choose and that it’s never too late to change your life.

If any of this sounds silly to you, I say to you honestly, I feel sorry for you! 
To not feel, what I have felt.  The utter joy!  The complete happiness!  To have allowed my imagination to dream of something different and new.  To pretend!  To have been so deeply touched by actors and writers and directors who created a world I so happily believed in and cherished, is something that I am not only thankful for, but something that has influenced me on all sorts of levels, personally and professional.  I can’t image my life without it….If you don’t know this feeling, you’re missing out.

I celebrate this milestone and say simply, thank you!  To Roddenberry and everyone who helped make this show the amazing inspiration it was, and still is!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The end of an era.... (for now)

My yearly Holiday Card tradition was born out of a deep desire to entertain. At the time I needed, and so I created for myself, an outlet that would allow me to create and to express myself artistically while also hopefully adding a little magic to the holiday season.
Over the years I have (mostly) enjoyed the process of coming up with something new each year, producing it, and then, just in time for the holidays, releasing the final image, images, and/or video.
From a Nutcracker come to life, to a 1950’s comic book inspired spaceman, to Jack Frost, to a Blue Christmas Elvis Presley I have loved each and every year. 
Each year has felt appropriate for that particular year, and represented where I was creatively and personally. Sometimes, I was even able to also create films that connected to the images, like the year my holiday card was a World War 2 propaganda poster, which connected to my holiday short, Everything Twas or the year I did the ghost of Jacob Marley which thematically connected to the period short film, Christmas Visitations.
While deeply fulfilling, these projects were often also exhausting, stressful, and financially quite challenging. The challenge was always worth it “in the end” and the creative and artistic payoff was what had me coming back bigger and better the following year!
I have been fortunate to work, over the years, with some truly stunningly talented and amazing artists on these projects! They helped my imagination truly come to life in ways I couldn’t imagine! Even more impressively, many times these working artists donated (or highly discounted) their time and talents!! Some of them even came back to help with multiple years!
I have tagged many of these amazing individuals here on this post, as a way to once again sincerely thank them, but also in the hopes that those reading this post will click and further investigate these talented artists and learn more about them and their own work!
It was not an easy decision, and I have to be honest, it took me awhile to really commit to it, but I have decided that I will not be doing a Holiday Card this year. 
As I mentioned earlier, I really started this tradition as a creative outlet because I wanted more in my life, as an artist at the time. I’m happy to report, that is not currently the case. Not only am I continuing to create short format films, promos, and music videos but I am ramping up to do even more with our latest series, Ann Asks and my comedic series “LA be like…”. My suspicion and hope is that the 2018 mid term elections will bring additional work and creativity and maybe even some more Paulitics! 
In addition to all of this I have officially begun work on writing a feature length script!! My first!
I know in my heart, that all of you will understand and respect this decision, and that you will support me, but I still felt it necessary to officially inform everyone and give my reasons. Many, many people over the years have expressed their excitement in seeing what I come up with for the year. I really do hate to disappoint so I hope this will help to defuse a bit of the disappointment.
The good news? You never know what the future brings, and I make no promises the Holiday Card tradition will not return!
Plus, as previously mentioned, all the previous years and years of images, films, behind the scenes, and alternative shots are preserved and available for you to see at anytime. I specifically recommend you check out my “Paulidays” playlist on YouTube if you are feeling festive! I also truly hope you will investigate the many talented artists who have worked with me over the years. In addition I have started you off with some embedded videos below.
Thank you for understanding and thank you for sharing in my dreams and imagination over these many years. I have loved creating and bringing some magic to your holidays!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

"Wrinkled People, Wrinkled Food"

It is with GREAT PRIDE that I share with you, the latest episode from my new series, Ann Asks...

Ann Asks: Episode 2 “Wrinkled Food, Wrinkled People”

Directed by Paul Howard
Starring Ann Benson
Shot by Marc Wiercioch & Troy Carlton
Edited by Gareth Fient
Special thanks to Ian BugattiRobert Egger, Mahira Sobral & Ettore Giovanni Zuccarelli

Very Special thanks to The LA Kitchen and all of it’s amazing staff & volunteers!

To find out more or to volunteer go to
Shot on location at The L.A. Kitchen in Los Angeles, CA


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

So close I can taste it!

Episode 2 of Ann Asks, featuring The LA Kitchen is coming VERY soon.
It’s so close now, I can taste it!! 
See what I did there? ;)

If you haven’t seen Ep 1 yet, please head to NOW and watch!  After, don’t forget to LIKE, COMMENT, and of course, SHARE with your friends and family!
Help us get more and more eyes on it and hopefully inspire more and more people in their lives!!

Thank you for your support and being a part of this new community!!