Paul Boultbee isn’t a household name for Red Deer film buffs — but probably should be.
The local community actor has appeared in countless local movies, many shot by Red Deer College Motion Picture Arts students over the years.
He’s played God twice. He also portrayed a Walter-Mitty-like office worker, professor, psychiatrist, would-be actor and other characters — some of whom made on-screen appearances at film festivals around the world.
“Paul Boultbee absolutely deserves to be celebrated,” said Larry Reese, head of acting in RDC’s MPA program. He noted that the Ontario native, who works as an RDC librarian and has been acting on community stages since age 12, “has a relatively large fan base for his theatre performances.”
“But I don’t think that many people have seen his extraordinary performances in film.”
To address this, and express his personal appreciation for Boultbee’s “decades of contributions,” Reese is screening the retrospective Divine Madness: The Films of Paul Boultbee on Jan. 20 and 21 at the Welikoklad Event Centre in Red Deer.
Numerous clips of his appearances in RDC-made movies will be shown — as well as two complete eight-minute shorts (Wait Time, Under the Acorn Tree), and a sitcom pilot from 1998 called Pizney’s Occupation. Boultbee played the title role.
Looking back, he’s thrilled to have worked with so many talented students, many now working in the film industry. “I learned so much,” said Boultbee — including bringing subtlety to his performances.
While the retrospective is “a marvelous honour” — he wants to clarify: “I’m not dying yet!”
He feels Divine Madness will be as much a look back at the Red Deer College film program as his own film career. After all, MPA was started in 2001, just a few years after Boultbee took on his first small movie role in Naked Frailties. The two-hour acclaimed local feature was made by then RDC Theatre Studies instructors to show they had the skills to start a film program.
Although Boultbee’s film contributions were all done on a volunteer basis (“We had a running joke that I’d pay him double what I did last time,” quipped Reese), he happily stepped up whenever a student director needed an actor for “a mature role.”
“I never cared how I looked on screen. I tried not to pay attention to the cameras, I preferred to immerse myself in the characters,” said Boultbee, who will see some of his performances for the first time since the films premiered.
Tickets to the 7 p.m. screenings are $5 at the door.