Filmmaker at Work – Paul Waters – Brown Elephant Creative
Looking through the lens takes more creativity than meets the eye. For Paul Waters of Brown Elephant Creative, it’s a background in music and design that makes the art and sound of his filming so complete. With a clear vision of bringing the highest quality projects to his clients, Paul has mastered the delicate combination of blending film, script, direction, design, and overall cinematography. A successful film or video encompasses many different aspects, but one often overlooked is how seamless it is when viewed. Paul has an uncanny ability to conduct a symphony of cohesiveness in his work. “Planning is crucial”, he says. “I can see certain things because of the design background. It provides an overview so you’re not just throwing pieces together, with concepts. It’s thematic. The sense of space you get from static design works on film as well.”
Check out some of Paul's work:
Raised in Hickory, North Carolina, Paul has been a resident of Doylestown for over 10 years, with a varied and diverse history that brought him here to Bucks County. With a degree in Graphic Design from University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Paul is also a musician, which is how he first got involved in video and film. After selling songs and creating jingles for larger companies, (including Hershey’s), he reworked an original song called TEA, which had success when it was used for the candy bar “Take 5”. Through that experience, he started doing background music for video, specifically for Wheelhouse Communications in New York City. When asked to be on a Pepsico shoot, Paul got the film bug. He’d been interested in film since he was a little kid in the 1990’s making videos with his friends. Paul continued working on a few sets, and thought, “This doesn’t look so difficult”. He hasn’t looked back since.
Living in Doylestown has been a plus for Paul’s work, both creatively and logistically. “It’s great that there is such a creative community immersed here”, he says. “It’s picturesque, charming, and vibrant, and it’s the ideal location between New York and Philadelphia.” Paul would like to do more work locally and show people that the technology he is using is surprisingly affordable. He likes to work within a comfortable budget for clients, and the capability to produce high quality on a local level wasn’t even attainable 10 years ago.
Paul also aspires to do more in independent film, but for now, he’s working on growing the business. He has done work for companies ranging from Microsoft to Macy's and has had the unique opportunity to work with a lot of leaders in the tech and IT industry. He’s filmed bands at the Firefly Music Festival, done work in the fashion industry, and has created topical video projects. Paul has also done a lot for the local community, lending a hand for related projects such as Bucks Fever Film Fest, where he was on the film festival committee and donated his time to edit the film festival trailer and commercial. He showcased local record store owner Blair Elliot at the end of a 12 minute documentary called “Siren” about the “loudness wars” (compression and limiting with music). Paul loves to tell his clients story, with a beginning, middle, and end, whether in an arts piece or a corporate video.
At some point, Paul would like to teach, so I asked what advice would he give a 14 year old kid who was interested in going into film. “Watch as much stuff as you can, start early, find a good film school, maybe step out of film a bit”, he says. “Outside of the invaluable education, the contacts you make in a good program are worth the time and the money. Have fun. Watch things that you normally wouldn’t watch. You have to consciously work on it so you don’t get stuck in a rut. If you like Kubrick, watch Hitchcock. If you like science fiction, watch a bunch of period pieces. If you like big blockbusters, watch a chick flick.” Paul is a big fan of filmmakers Wes Anderson (check out this mini-doc Paul did about Wes), Rob Reiner, and Sofia Coppola, and some of his favorite films are Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and even When Harry Met Sally which he refers to as “such a classic, I loved it before it even made sense.”
Paul is often asked, “Why Brown Elephant?” He’d always had an affinity for elephants since he was a kid and when starting the company, he simply started thinking Elephant Design. Paul has such a keen eye and piercing instinct for what is needed for any given project, since they say an elephant never forgets, we’re pretty sure that once you see a film or video created by Paul, you won’t forget him either.