Everyone looks to up to a school principal for leadership and guidance, even though they are not always secure in every decision they make. At least that’s the way veteran actor Paul Whitney sees it.
“I look back at principals I had – I was 16 at the time – and how I tried to break their spirits,” he says looking totally serious. Well, as serious as Paul Whitney ever looks that is.
Now as one of the stars of the new Media-X web series, Saving the School District, Whitney gets to see things from the other side as Principal Paul Jetson – a man of strong convictions and brightly colored sticky notes.
Whitney has acted in dozens of film and TV productions including Summer’s Blood (2009) and The Grey Fox (1982). He is also a writer and producer and the son of Moxie Whitney, a big band leader who rose up during the depression to travel the world to land the longest running gig at the Imperial Room at the Royal York Hotel, in Toronto. A movie on his father’s life is now nearing completion.
Whitney had fun with the character of Principal Jetson in the 7 part web series and also in his solo commercial (below) in which he explains his system for classroom walkthroughs.
In the Saving the School District web series, Whitney worked with Director Michael Dobbin and fellow actors James Bradford, Eric Ladd, Kelly Rigole and Michele Fansett, to create the world of Oakstump High School, which must help save the school district from being taken over by the Department of Education, due to low student test scores and failure to complete walkthroughs and teacher evaluations.
During the filming in December, Whitney was full of energy and a steady stream of non-stop ad-libs. In Episode 4, Principal Jetson, along with Supertendent McDent and Assistant Principal Pointer, all end up falling asleep in the principal’s office trying to finish reports due the next day for Violet Lancaster from the DOE.
Whitney had the idea that Principal Jetson should coddle a big bottle of Pepto-Bismal, (Superintendent McDent preferred a flask of Single Malt Scotch.)
For effect the director wanted Jetson to drink a large capful of the pink liquid used to treat nausea, indigestion and diarrhea. With lighting and camera angle changes, it took five takes and almost a full cup of Pepto-Bismal before the scene was completed. Principal Jetson took it all in stride. Thanks Paul!
After the shoot, Media-X Marketing Director Robert McGregor, finally cornered Whitney to find out more about how he prepared for his role and to get his thoughts about the production. We’ve watched the resulting footage a few times, and we’re not sure how much we can show, but here is an edited compilation of the best moments from that interview, at least that we can show in polite company.
Recently Whitney had the chance to work with Hollywood star Dan Aykroyd, who was in Ottawa to help promote the city’s film talent. Aykroyd was born in Ottawa, and came home to shoot scenes for a short promotional video about the city’s film talent. Whitney got to work with him in a scene and was impressed.
‘‘He’s a star, everybody enjoyed working with him, he’s everybody’s hero. He didn’t have to do this, but he felt that good about it and he wanted to come back here and do it,” he said.
Catch our friend Paul Whitney, in the role of Principal Jetson in the ongoing web series, Saving the School District. We think you’ll enjoy it!