Paul Quarrington Life in Music
Paul Quarrington is an award winning, well respected and much loved author, filmmaker, musician and teacher. Though a very public figure in the field of Canadian arts, and an artist who made himself easily accessible to fans, he was also a complex person. So much so that few in his public or private sphere say they really knew him. With the sudden diagnosis of terminal illness, he is compelled to address this in the best way he knows how – he chooses to make art – to squeeze the juice from life and pour his passion into making this film, into re-writing his about-to-be-published memoir to include “new thematic material,” and into writing songs, lots of songs, all made more poignant for the absolute deadline at hand.
Through this film, Paul gives us a rare and insightful glimpse into the inner workings of an artist in the act of creating. As he writes, records and performs, you see the heart and soul of a man able to express in music deeply personal issues. We witness the artist, and the man, reach for a resolution to the question that we will all face when our time comes, “what would you do?”
What unfolds is a laugh-out-loud funny, compelling, warm and enlightening story – a journey woven around music, bearing witness to the power of song to elevate, encapsulate and explain the emotions that poured into this artist’s creative endeavors. His story will inspire every viewer to look at life a bit differently – to engage and to be present as if life were to end tomorrow. It is a story of friendship and community – of immersing oneself in the redemptive powers of an audience to find solace and validation.
As a teacher, Paul would always tell students to write about what makes them uncomfortable – to be unafraid of the subject matter. With much of the music in this film written and recorded post-diagnosis, the process of coming to terms plays itself out musically. “All the Stars” – a hauntingly beautiful ballad, tells of one left behind, while “Are You Ready,” written expressly for the film, pulls all that has transpired into a deceptively simple lyric whose impact is made clear in the powerful and surprising denouement.
On screen conversations with some of the most important people in Quarrington’s life amplify the inspiring message, including longtime friend and bandmate Martin Worthy, Roddy Doyle, Dave Bidini, Wayson Choy, brothers Joel Quarrington and Tony Quarrington, daughters Carson and Flannery and their mother Dorothy Bennie. Comments by Nicholas Jennings and Martin Levin provide context, and threaded throughout are live performances by Paul, his band Porkbelly Futures, Dan Hill, Joe Hall and many more musical guests.
Producer Judith Keenan, Director Bert Kish and Editor Caroline Christie have done a masterful job of drawing the viewer into the life and work of this Renaissance artist, a gift from the man we finally get to know – the author, musician, teacher, father and friend – Paul Quarrington.
Broadcast Premiere BRAVO! Sat. May 29 and 30, 2010; additional broadcast September 18 – check local listings
For Photos and more updates, visit BookShorts.com/pq_life_in_music
director of photography
JOHN M TRAN
Production Executive for Bravo!