Paul R. Wagner
- BA in English, linguistics emphasis, University of Kentucky, 1970
- MA in Communications, research design and systems science, University of Kentucky, 1972
- Graduate Coursework in the PhD. Program in Systems Science, Portland (Oregon) State University, 1973
- Graduate Coursework in the PhD. Program in Communications, Annenberg Fellowship, visual anthropology and documentary film, Annenberg School of Communications, University of Pennsylvania, 1974-75
- Coursework with Joy Zinoman, acting and directing for the stage, Studio Theater Acting Conservatory, 1986-88
FILM and TELEVISION
• Good Work - Masters of the Building Arts – 2016, 65 minutes.
Producer/director, with Marjorie Hunt. A documentary film portrait of artisans from across America working in the building trades. They include Mexican American terra cotta workers and Scots American decorative painters, a Hispanic adobe builder in New Mexico and a Creole plasterer in New Orleans. In eight segments, the film celebrates art, craftsmanship, tradition and the importance of Good Work.
• Boom and Bust: America's Journey on the Erie Canal – 2015, 31 minutes.
Producer/director, with Steve Zeitlin. A meditation on economic cycles and the American Dream. The film surveys the industrial expansion and decline along the Erie Canal, and examines its impact on the lives of workers in steel, grain, textiles and shipping.
• Faith in the Hood – 2012, 56 minutes.
Producer/director. A portrait of Southeast, the toughest neighborhood in Washington, D.C., seen through the prism of the spiritual life of its people. The film profiles ministers and members of five churches and includes commentary from leading experts on African American faith. Produced for the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. Broadcast nationally on public television via NETA for Black History Month, 2013.
• Getting Word – 2012, 4 minutes.
Producer/director. A short film about the descendants of enslaved people at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The film was presented as part of an exhibit curated by Monticello and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, installed at the Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History.
• Playing Through – 2012, 13 minutes.
Director, with producer Bill Riefenberger and writer/executive producer John Harris. A short narrative film about two retired buddies whose slow pace of play on the golf course frustrates the group behind them. A breach of etiquette excalates into mortal combat, and a sand trap becomes a sort of foxhole of the soul in this comedy/drama.
- Kentucky: an American Story – 2011, 58 minutes.
Producer/director, with historian/writer Daniel Smith. Episode One – the Land examines the tortured history of land use in Kentucky from conflicts between settlers and Indians to the controversies over mountaintop removal. Produced in collaboration with the University of Kentucky for presentation on Kentucky Educational Television, narrated by Ashley Judd.
• A Constitution for Zimbabwe – 2011, 5 minutes.
Producer/director. A short film produced for the Center on the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier. The film profiles a group of eight attorneys from Zimbabwe who spend two weeks at Montpelier working with constitutional experts to write a new constitution for the nation of Zimbabwe.
- Thoroughbred – 2010, 105 minutes.
Producer/director. A behind-the-scenes look inside the world of big-time horse racing where viewers meet the owners and trainers, jockeys and grooms, breeders and bloodstock agents, along the backside, the breeding shed, the auction ring, and the winner’s circle on Derby Day; produced for Kentucky Educational Television. PBS primetime broadcast in 2011.
- Appalachia: a History of Mountains and People – 2008, 4 x 56 minutes.
Senior Producer, with producers Jamie Ross and Ross Spears. A documentary series about the natural history of the Appalachian Mountains and how it has shaped the lives of the people who live there. Major underwriting by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. PBS primetime broadcast in 2009.
- Absolutely Irish! – 2008, 70 minutes.
Producer/director. A performance/documentary featuring the leading performers of Irish traditional music in an all-star concert at the Irish Arts Center in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Major underwriting by the New York State Music Fund. Co-production with WGBH, Boston. American Program Service national broadcast.
- The God of a Second Chance – 2006, 83 minutes.
Producer/director. A documentary about the spiritual lives of two men living in Washington, D.C.’s toughest neighborhood and the faith-based ministries that support them. Sponsored by the Center on Religion and Democracy at the University of Virginia. Virginia Film Festival, Washington, D.C. International Film Festival and Grand Prize Winner Hometown Film Festival, Washington, D.C.
- Re-Imagining Ireland - 2004, 58 minutes.
Senior producer, with producer Andrew Wyndham. A documentary about the remarkable economic, political and cultural changes transforming contemporary Ireland. Narrated by Frank McCourt and featuring Roddy Doyle and Mick Moloney. American Program Service national broadcast.
- East of the Blue Ridge – 2000-2003, 4 x 60 minutes series.
Producer/director. A series of four documentaries about four aspects of Piedmont, Virginia culture. Writers features John Grisham, Rita Mae Brown, Rita Dove, Charles Wright and John Casey. Horses features Barclay Rives and Rita Mae Brown in segments about fox hunting, polo and equine medicine. Three Presidents examines the relationship between three neighbors: James Madison, James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson. The James River is seen through the eyes of sportsmen, environmentalists, historians and writers. Series produced by WHTJ, Virginia PBS. American Program Service national broadcast.
- John McCutcheon’s Commonwealth - 2001, 58 minutes.
Producer. A live-on-tape performance of musician John McCutcheon’s millennium concert tribute to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Produced by WHTJ, Virginia PBS
- Three Roses - 2001, 90 minutes.
Producer/director. A live-on-tape performance of Julie Portman’s play about violence against women. Produced by WHTJ, Virginia PBS.
- No Higher Honor - 2000-2002, 58 minutes each.
Consulting producer, with producer Mark Helfer. A series of documentaries about 20th century governors of Virginia. Produced by WHTJ, Virginia PBS.
- Windhorse - 1999, 97 minutes.
Producer/director/writer, written with Thupten Tsering and Julia Elliott. A dramatic feature about three young Tibetans and their struggle for freedom and fulfillment in Tibet, filmed in Tibet and Nepal. Windhorse is the first American narrative feature shot on digital technology for theatrical distribution. Produced by High Plateau, LLC. Theatrical release in over 100 U.S. cities by Shadow Distribution, DVD release by New Yorker Films. Winner Best U.S. Feature and Best Director of the Santa Barbara Film Festival, Audience Award Florida FF, Audience Award Washington, D.C. FF, Grand Prize Telluride Mountain FF, Grand Prize Premio ALP/Cervinio, Rotterdam FF, Human Rights Watch FF, Toronto FF, Tokyo FF, Aspen FF, Melbourne FF, Sydney FF.
- A Paralyzing Fear: the Story of Polio in America - 1998, 90 minutes.
Producer, with Nina Seavey. A documentary about America’s scientific and cultural conquest of polio. PBS national broadcast and limited theatrical release. Narrated by Olympia Dukakis. Funded by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Winner Eric Barnouw Award for Best Historical Documentary, winner national Emmy Award for Best Research.
- Signature: George C. Wolfe - 1997, 58 minutes.
Director/editor. A film portrait of controversial theater writer and director George C. Wolfe (Jelly’s Last Jam, Angels in America, Bring in da Noise/Funk). PBS national broadcast. Produced for Kentucky Educational Television with a grant from the Annenberg Fund. Featuring interviews with Tony Kushner, John Lahr, Gregory Hines and Patrick Stewart, and scenes from the original production of Angels. Winner National Educational Television Association Public Television Program of the Year and regional Emmy Award.
- The Battle of the Alamo - 1996, 57 minutes
Director. A documentary with dramatic re-enactments, telling the story of the siege and battle of the Alamo. This was the first program ever filmed in the original Alamo. Produced by the George Washington University Center for History in the Media. Narrated by Hal Holbrook. Discovery Channel national broadcast.
- Out of Ireland: the Story of Irish Emigration to America, 1995, 111 minutes.
Producer/Director with producer Ellen Casey Wagner. A documentary about Irish emigration to America, from the famine-swept villages of 19th century Ireland to the industrialized cities of 20th century America, told through the lives and letters of eight immigrants. Narrated by Kelly McGillis and featuring Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Gabriel Byrne and Brenda Fricker. Produced by American Focus with a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. PBS national broadcast and PBS pledge program. Sundance Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, Cork (Ireland) Film Festival, Lincoln Center Film Society Festival of Irish Film.
- Signature - Ed McClanahan - 1995, 58 minutes
Director/editor. A comic documentary portrait of Kentucky author/raconteur Ed McClanahan. Produced for Kentucky Educational Television, and funded by the Annenberg Fund.
- The Congress of Wonders - 1994, 24 minutes.
Producer/director/writer with writer Ed McClanahan. A dramatic film based on Ed McClanahan’s short story, starring Eli Thomas, Fred Scott Downing and Melissa Combs. Winner Best Film Indianapolis Independent Film Festival. Produced by American Focus. Funded by the KET Fund for Independent Producers and broadcast on Kentucky Educational Television.
- The Grand Generation - 1993, 30 minutes.
Producer/Director with producers Marjorie Hunt and Steve Zeitlin. A documentary celebrating the cultural importance of older Americans including a Delta quilt maker, a Jewish baker, a singing coalminer and an Eastern Shore waterman. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, D.C. Community Humanities Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts.
- U.S. Postal Museum Exhibit Videos - 1993, four short museum installation exhibits/films.
Director/writer. Four innovative video installations, two dramas and two documentaries, about the culture and history of the U.S. Postal Service. Produced for the Smithsonian Institution American Postal Museum.
- Crazy Man Crazy - 1993, 8 minutes.
Writer/producer/director/editor, with writer Ed McClanahan. A short dramatic film with an original script. Produced by American Focus.
- Marcel Proust - 1992, 60 minutes.
Executive producer, with producer Sarah Mondale. A film biography of the author of A’ la Recherché du Temps Perdu, featuring documentary and dramatic scenes. Produced independently. Funded by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. PBS national broadcast.
- Seeds of Change - 1992, 12 minutes.
Director. The story of biological and cultural exchange in the wake of Columbus’ arrival in America. An innovative three-screen pan video installation in the Museum of Natural History, commemorating the Columbian Quincentenary. Produced for the Smithsonian Institution. Winner of several awards in museum exhibit and public information competitions.
- Museum and Community, 1988, 40 minutes.
Director. A film about exemplary education programs at four American museums. Produced for the Smithsonian Institution Office of Museum Education. CINE Golden Eagle, National Educational Film Festival Blue Ribbon.
- Various corporate films and videos - 1987-1992
Director. Documentaries and dramas produced for commercial clients including Molson’s Brewery, BellCore Laboratories, Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals, and Xerox Corporation. Produced by Jack Morton Productions.
- Asylum – 1987, 60 minutes
Executive producer, with producer Sarah Mondale. The history of institutions for the insane, and the complex moral and philosophical issues surrounding them. Funded by the D.C. Community Humanities Council. PBS national broadcast.
- Celebrations: the World of Victor and Edith Turner - 1986, 30 minutes.
Producer/director. A "companion film" for a major exhibit at the Renwick Museum of Design, a documentary film about the life and work of anthropologist Victor Turner and his wife Edith, who have studied rituals, rites of passage, seasonal festivals and religious celebrations all over the world. Produced for the Smithsonian Institution.
- The Festival of American Folklife - 1986, 10 minutes
Producer/Director/Narrator. A documentary film about the annual Festival of American Folklife. Produced for the Smithsonian Institution.
- Jugtown - 1985, 30 minutes
Producer/Director. A documentary film about the process and rhythms of hand-made work in a traditional pottery in North Carolina. Produced for the Smithsonian Institution.
- The Stone Carvers - 1984, 30 minutes.
Producer/Director/Editor. A documentary film portrait of traditional Italian-American artisans who carved the gargoyles and statues of the Washington Cathedral, featuring Vincent Palumbo and Roger Morigi. Winner Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, Emmy Award for Best Documentary Director, American Film Festival Blue Ribbon, Birmingham Educational Film Festival Best Independent Film, CINE Golden Eagle, Washington, D.C. Emmy Award Best Documentary, Irish Silver Harp Award. PBS national broadcast. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the D.C. Community Humanities Council.
- Free Show Tonite - 1983, 60 minutes.
Producer/director/editor/writer, with producer Steve Zeitlin. A documentary film about old-time medicine shows, featuring the recreation of a show by the original performers, featuring Roy Acuff, Snuffy Jenkins and Pappy Sherrill, Greasy Medlin, Walking Mary, Hammie Nixon and Guitar Slim. PBS national broadcast. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Winner Grand Prize National Educational Film Festival, American Film Festival Red Ribbon, CINE Golden Eagle.
- Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle - 1982, 60 minutes.
Producer/director/editor/writer, with producer Jack Santino. A documentary portrait of the Pullman porters who formed America's first black labor union, featuring Rosina Tucker, E.D. Nixon, and C.L. Dellums. PBS national broadcast. Funded by the D.C. Community Humanities Council. Winner four regional Emmy Awards, Telluride Film Festival, American Film Festival Blue Ribbon, CINE Golden Eagle.
- Mermaids Froglegs and Fillets - 1979, 30 minutes.
Producer/director/editor, with Steve Zeitlin and Jack Santino. A portrait of two young “fishcriers”—one urban black, one rural white—who create rhymes and chants to attract customers to their fish-selling boat. Produced for the Smithsonian Institution.
- Harmonize! Folklore in the Lives of Five Families - 1976, 30 minutes.
Producer/director/editor, with producer Steve Zeitlin. A documentary about family traditions, rituals, holiday celebrations and expressions. Produced for the Smithsonian Institution for screening during the United States Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife.
- The Pearl - 1991, full-length play.
Producer, with writer Judlyne Lilly. A full-length play based on the 1848 attempted escape of 77 slaves from Washington, D.C. I researched, wrote the treatment, and produced the play for the bicentennial of the District of Columbia with grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Staged at the Source Theater as an on-going presentation for young people, 1991-94.
- Advice to the Players – 1990, full-length play.
Director. A play by Bruce Bonnafede about the moral dilemma faced by two black South African actors on tour in the U.S. who are asked not to perform as an act of protest against apartheid. Produced by the Contemporary Arts Theatre, Washington, D.C.
- Falling Stars - 1989, ten-minute play.
Director and writer of the stage adaptation of a short story by Alexa Gelmi. A stylized character study of a woman. Grand Prize winner of the 1989 Source Theater Festival Ten-Minute Play Competition.
- Daddy’s Guitar - 1989, one-act play.
Writer. A play with music, about family reconciliation, set in a small town in Kentucky in the 1950s. Produced as a staged reading by Mill Mountain Theater in Roanoke, Virginia.
BOOKS and MUSIC
- Out of Ireland - 1995, book and CD of the soundtrack.
Author, with Kerby Miller and producer, with Mick Moloney. In connection with the film, I co-authored a history of Irish emigration (Elliott & Clark Publishing) and co-produced the soundtrack album (Shanachie Records).
- A Paralyzing Fear – 1998, book.
Author, with Nina Seavey and Jane S. Smith. A companion book for the film A Paralyzing Fear.
- Absolutely Irish – 2008, CD of the soundtrack (Compass Records).
PROFESSIONAL and COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES
- Vice-President, Board of Directors – Live Arts Theater, Charlottesville, Virgnia, 2012-present.
- Panelist – National Science Foundation, Informal Science Education Division, 2012.
- Participant and panelist for From Project Ozma to the Starship Enterprise: A Conversation About the Next 50 Years of SETI, a three-day conference at the Green Bank Radio Telescope Observatory on the future of research in extraterrestrial life.
- Member of Advisory Board, Mentor – Light House Youth Media Center, 1999-present.
- Member of Advisory Board – Live Arts Theater, 1992-present.
- President – Buford Middle School PTO, 2004-05.
- Judge - Corporation for Public Broadcasting Programming Awards, American Film Festival Awards, CINE Golden Eagle Awards, Washington, D.C. Rosebud Awards, D.C. Mayor's Arts Awards, Kentucky Educational Television Fund for Independent Producers, Virginia Film Festival, Salmagundi Film Festival.
- Panelist - National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Public Programs, 1986, 1988, 2002.
- Faculty – University of Virginia, Semester at Sea around-the-world academic program, taught documentary film, 2009.
- Adjunct Faculty – University of Virginia, Media Studies Program, instructor in advanced narrative film production seminars, 2007 and 2008.
- Member of University of Virginia search committee for Festival Director, Virginia Festival of American Film, 1994.
- Adjunct Faculty – George Washington University Center for History in the Media, 1992.
- Member – Board of Advisors, American University School of Communications, 1988-92.
- Adjunct Faculty - University of Maryland Baltimore County, Department of Visual Arts, taught courses in film production and documentary film, 1981-83.
- Lecturer - on documentary film and independent filmmaking for the Smithsonian Associates, UCLA Program in Visual Anthropology, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Disney Institute.
OTHER PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITY
- Performer - country-western singer in Philadelphia nightclubs, 1977-80.
- Writer/Producer/Director – observational documentary teacher-training videos produced for the Division of Special Education, Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery County Pennsylvania, 1975-78.
- Instructional Designer – instructional programs produced for the Division of Continuing Education, Portland (Oregon) State University, 1973-1974.
- Instructional Designer – Kentucky Educational Television GED Project, a television series and student workbook designed to prepare adult learners to pass their GED high school equivalency exam. The GED Series has been revised several times and is still used widely throughout America. 1972-73.
- (formerly) Vice-President - Public Communications, Inc, a non-profit organization supporting independent film production in Washington, D.C.
- (formerly) President and General Partner - Countdown Development Partnership, a motion picture development company, 1985-90.
- Vice-President - American Focus, Inc., a 501c(3) non-profit organization producing independent films on American culture and history, 1988-present.
- President - Paul Wagner Productions, Inc., 1984-present.
- Managing Partner – High Plateau, LLC, a motion-picture development company, 1996-present.
- Top-100 Irish Americans, Irish American Magazine, 1995.
- Washington, D.C. Mayor's Award as Outstanding Emerging Artist, 1985.
- National Tay-Sachs Association Service Award, 1984.