Paul Shoulberg, a screenwriter and director from Lawrence, will screen his first feature-length film at Liberty Hall on Sept. 14. at 7:30 p.m.
“The Good Catholic” follows a priest named Daniel, played by Shoulberg’s best friend Zachary Spicer, who believes that he has his whole life figured out. But when he comes across a young woman during a confession, all of that is thrown out of the window.
“My father was a priest and my mother was a nun. They met at the church and they left together," Shoulberg said. “After my father passed away, I became more curious about him and their story in general. It led me to directing a script inspired by that story.”
A question and answer session with Shoulberg and University film professor Kevin Willmott will follow the screening.
Paul Shoulberg's film "The Good Catholic" has come to fruition. Shoulberg, a 2004 University graduate, brought his parent's uncommon love story to light through his film.
Shoulberg said that the inspiration for the film came from his late father and his life before and after meeting his mother. After the first read-through, Spicer believed that the script was the best thing Shoulberg had ever written. Spicer said he wanted to be a part of it in any way that he could.
“[Daniel] very much enjoys the life that he has created for himself in this small, college town in the small rectory of this Catholic church,” Spicer said. “He seems to have everything figured out. All of that is disrupted when he meets this young woman in confession one evening.”
Shoulberg and Spicer said it was easy to work with one another. Both said that the experience provided a lot for them to learn from and use in the future. Shoulberg said that there was a mix of crewmembers who had never worked on a feature-length film before and seasoned professionals.
“It was an environment where learning was happening and where we were able to share ideas in a very productive way, which is not always the case on bigger sets,” Shoulberg said. “Then the cast, having some heavy hitters like Danny Glover and John C. McGinley was such an honor for me. There was never a moment that I got used to it.”
Spicer said that it was nice to work with so many friends on such a great project. From initially getting the film started to the actual production, he believed that the whole environment was the best that one could ask for.
“He was thinking of making a Kickstarter and raising all of the money for the film there,” Spicer said. “I said ‘What if we were crazy and started our own production company?’ And that’s what happened.”
Having the movie premiere in Lawrence at Liberty Hall is an honor, Shoulberg said. Before and during his time at the University, he had promised himself that he would try to get a movie of his own showcased there.
“Liberty Hall is where I developed my love for independent films,” Shoulberg said. “Even before I was in film school at KU, I remember how my friend, who was a filmmaker, and I would go see movies at Liberty Hall all the time. Back then I had the thought that it would be great to have something of mine play here. I feel very lucky to now have that opportunity.”
Along with following through on the promise he made to himself, Shoulberg wanted to make a film with elements that were similar to those that made him fall in love with the artform in the first place. He said he hopes to express a personal story and allow the audience to connect to it as well.
“This movie is for anyone who wants to go into a movie theater, or watch it at home, and see a story about humans,” Shoulberg said. “Real people with real emotions, real questions being asked in this film. This is something that they can connect to personally and think about for a little bit.”
— Edited by Gabrielle Cinnamon