Paul Saltzman is a filmmaker, photographer, producer, broadcaster, author, and screenwriter. Born in 1943, Saltzman has made a large impact on Canadian film and television from a young age.
After briefly studying engineering science, he became involved in the civil rights movement. Spending time in Washington, DC and Mississippi, Saltzman helped the SNCC with voter registration. He came back to Canada and took a job with CBC in 1965. In this time he held many positions, functioning as a researcher, interviewer, and on-air host. In 1967 Saltzman took a position with the National Film Board, where he was able to interview Buckminster Fuller. 1968 brought great change to Saltzman life. Flying to India to help NFB film the Indian countryside, he fell in love with the country and continued to stay after the shooting was complete.
Needing a personal change in his life, Saltzman approached the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and asked to learn meditation. This experience changed his life, as he not only learnt meditation, but he became friendly with others who were taking the Maharishi’s course (Saltzman was not). Using his personal camera, Saltzman captured intimate photographs of the Beatles, Mia Farrow, Donovan, Mike Love, and others. He began to hang out with Paul, Ringo, John, and George, and saw firsthand as they wrote and perfected many of their famous tunes. Though Saltzman published a few of these intimate photos once he returned to Canada in Maclean’s magazine, the majority remained packed away until 2000 with the publication of his first book The Beatles in Rishikesh.
1968 continued to be an exciting year for Saltzman. Acting as second-unit director and production manager, he helped create Tiger Child, the first IMAX film, premiered at EXPO ’70 in Osaka Japan.
The next decade offered Saltzman many opportunities. With his company Sunrise Films, he produced and directed many acclaimed works including the series Spread Your Wings. In this time he also tried his hand as writer, editor, cinematographer, and sound recordist. In 1984, Saltzman co-created and produced the popular family action-adventure series Danger Bay, which spanned six years, 123 episodes, and was aired by CBC and the Disney Channel.
Saltzman’s first time as a director in a feature-film was in 2008, with the documentary Prom Night in Mississippi. Teaming up with actor and film narrator Morgan Freeman, the film was a success, premiering at 2009 Sundance Film Festival. In 2012, his second documentary feature The Last White Knight premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. This film revisited Saltzman’s time in the 1960’s when he helped the SNCC and the KKK member who beat him in front of courthouse for volunteering to help register Black voters.
In 2011, Patricia Aquino and Saltzman founded the non-profit Moving Beyond Prejudice. Its mission is “to directly and positively impact the attitudes, beliefs, and prejudices of students, youth-at-risk and adults using films, seminars, websites, and Internet ARGs”.
Saltzman’s skill and career has be recognized through many awards and nominations, from as early as 1974. He is a two-time Emmy award winner, and is currently based out of Toronto.