Paul Heller (also known as Paul M. Heller) is an American film producer residing in Southern California. His best known movies include Enter the Dragon, Withnail and I, My Left Foot, The Annihilation of Fish, Skin Games, Hot Potato, The Promise, The Barony, Black Belt Jones, and David and Lisa.
His debut as a film producer was David and Lisa, which received two Oscar nominations and innumerable awards. He was the executive producer of 1990's Oscar winner, My Left Foot, which earned five Academy Award nominations and Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
Heller's commitment to high quality films has been the hallmark of his career. His film, The Eavesdropper won acclaim as Best Film at Mar del Plata and honors at both the New York and London Film Festivals. It was also nominated for Best Foreign Film at the French Awards, as was his film Secret Ceremony, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Mia Farrow.
Although Heller worked as a successful Warner Bros. executive, overseeing such films as Skin Game, starring James Garner, and Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood, he prefers the life of the independent producer. In that role he is able to combine the goal of making quality films with his love of hands-on involvement in the process of film-making. A process that has so far created and developed over 30 feature films and numerous projects in allied fields.
In 1973, Heller founded Sequoia Pictures, Inc., a production house affiliated with Warner Bros.. The company's first production was Enter the Dragon, the film that set off the explosion of interest in the martial arts genre and which introduced Bruce Lee to the international film market place. Eleven more films followed with an unprecedented financial success rate.
His production company, Paul Heller Productions produced First Monday in October, starring Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh, and more recently the critically acclaimed British film, Withnail & I, written and directed by Bruce Robinson. He was the ground breaker in the cable TV feature market, producing the first made-for-cable feature film, Falcon's Gold, and then, Showtime's, Pygmalion, starring Peter O'Toole and Margot Kidder.
Heller now only makes pictures that delight him from the first reading of the script. Following The Annihilation of Fish, is another film with writer-director Bruce Robinson, entitled The Block.
Heller first has produced a television movie Wait Until Dark, which is distributed by Warner Bros. and HBO in 1982. In the same year, he has produced CBS Television and Showtime's Falcon's Gold. In 1998, he was involved in ABC's David and Lisa, produced with Oprah's Harpo Productions.
During this time, Heller renewed his interest in teaching promising young students of film. Heller was approached by the American Film Institute to develop a producing program for their new school in Los Angeles, the American Film Institute Center for Advanced Studies. He had previously taught Film and Television Design at both New York University and Columbia University, and founded the Community Film Workshop Council with the American Film Institute.
This was followed, over the years, by lectures at conferences and by teaching two Master Programs in Producing at The University of California, Los Angeles. He currently heads the Education and Outreach Committee of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Los Angeles.
In 1989, Heller founded ASK Theatre, a nonprofit group dedicated to new plays and playwrights, which works together with the Mark Taper Theatre in Los Angeles, The Royal Court Theatre in London and Lincoln Center in New York. He is also a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves on the board of directors of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts as well as on the board of the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation. He is a member of the United Scenic Artists, the Directors Guild and the Screen Actors Guild.
In October 2010, Heller made an opening remark for the Koyamada Foundation's United States Martial Arts Festival at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center in Redondo Beach, California. Heller serves as the Board of Directors of the Koyamada Foundation.
Multimedia and theatrical
Heller has been a pioneer in the field of multimedia and theatrical presentations. His productions include The New York Experience, which played for sixteen highly successful years at Rockefeller Center, and The South Street Venture, a popular attraction for seven years at the Dockland of New York City. He has recently completed the extensive audiovisual and multimedia exhibits for the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and expects to begin work on the Hong Kong Museum of History in the near future.
- David and Lisa (1962) (with Continental Distributing)
- Once Upon a Tractor (1965)
- The Eavesdropper (1966) (with Columbia Pictures)
- The Best of Laurel and Hardy (1967)
- Secret Ceremony (1968) (with Universal Pictures)
- Stop (1970) (with Warner Bros. Pictures)
- Enter the Dragon (1973) (with Warner Bros. Pictures)
- Black Belt Jones (1974) (with Warner Bros. Pictures)
- Truck Turner (1974) (with MGM)
- The Ultimate Warrior (1975)
- The Wilby Conspiracy (1975) (with United Artist)
- The Barony (1975) (with Warner Bros. Pictures)
- Dirty Knight's Work (1976)
- Crazy Animals (1976) (with 20th Century Fox)
- Hot Potato (1976) (with Warner Bros. Pictures)
- The Pack (1977) (with Warner Bros. Pictures)
- The Promise (1979) (with Universal Pictures)
- First Monday in October (1981) (with Paramount Pictures)
- Withnail & I (1987) (with Paramount and Anchor Bay Entertainment)
- My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989) (with 20th Century Fox/Miramax)
- Fatal Inheritance (1993)
- The Annihilation of Fish (1999) (with Regent Entertainment)
- Blood and Steel: Making 'Enter the Dragon (2003) (with Warner Bros. Pictures)
- Wait Until Dark (1982, TV Movie) (Producer)
- Falcon's Gold (1982, TV Movie) (Exec. Producer)
- David and Lisa (1998, TV Movie) (co-exec. producer)
- Enter the Dragon (1973) (with Warner Bros. Pictures) - Radio Operator (uncredited)
- The Annihilation of Fish (1999) (with Regent Entertainment) - Milkman (final film role)