Born in Liverpool, England in 1946, Paul Lynch came to Canada in 1960. He left school to become a cartoonist for the Toronto Star, and also served as a photographer for a number of small-town newspapers. If that doesn’t seem like enough experience, Lynch also worked as an art director for two advertising agencies and he designed Toronto Calendar Magazine. With all this behind him he turned to film and in 1968, when he was all of 22-years-old, Lynch shot Teenage Marriage, a short documentary that grew out of a photographic story he had worked on. It was bought by CBC television and aired on the highly respected program, Take 30. Throughout his career he would move easily from directing a feature film, to a made-for-television movie or shooting an episode of a TV series. Later in his career he worked exclusively in episodic television but he started with a small string of documentaries.
His documentary films include Charlie, which was shot in 1969 and tells the touching and true story of a young Native-Canadian boy who is taken from the reservation and dies trying to return to his people. His 1970 film, Choice, took a look at the Satan’s Choice, an infamous motorcycle gang. Before shooting began, Lynch had to win the confidence of the gang leader and live with the group for six weeks. He rode with them, ate with them and witnessed much more than he was able to show on national television. “The Choice have their own social structure, quite separate from the rest of the world`s”, Lynch once explained. For Big Bus Goin’ to Nashville, shot in 1971, Lynch and his camera crew boarded a bus full of Country and Western music fans in Toronto and traveled to the Tennessee city that is a shrine to country music and home of the Grand Old Opera. Lynch hoped to document what was once called the Country and Western “phenomenon” in a realistic way as possible. That documentary led to his first non-documentary feature film.
The idea and screenplay for The Hard Part Begins, a feature about country music, came from John Hunter. Lynch raised $40,000 independently and managed to get the Canadian Film DevelopmentCorporation to kick in another $60,000. Starring Donnelly Rhodes, it was released in 1973 and is considered a classic of early English-Canadian cinema. His next feature would take five years to see the light of day.
Titled Blood and Guts, this feature dealt with down-on-their-luck amateur wrestlers. It was nominated for 11 Canadian Film Awards in 1978. But following that experience, Lynch had trouble finding support for what he called “good human stories.” His next big idea, a tale of a circus lion tamer called Catman and the Kid, was rejected by the studios.
Despite all of his work, Lynch remains best known for the box-office hit Prom Night, a prototypical slasher film. It was developed from a visual idea Lynch had been toying with for about a year. He finally put his ideas into graphic form and called upon a former collaborator, William Gray, to expand the idea and write the screenplay. Lynch had been a fan of horror films and was a great admirer of the work of Charles B. Pierce. Speaking about his first film in this genre, Lynch once said, “Prom Night contains all the essential elements of the standard horror film but adds an extra element – entertainment. We cast a great looking bunch of kids, most of them relatively new to feature films, but with a natural talent and sense of comedy.”
Also see: Paul Lynch’s filmography.
This biography is Copyright © 2013 by Northerstars.ca and may not be used without prior written permission. Click here for more information about copyright. Photo of Paul Lynch © 2010 by Ralph Lucas. The Lobby Card for Prom Night, one of seven, was scanned from an original in the Northernstars Collection.