Paige Taul Discusses Twin Identity, Closing Generational Loops, and Bill Greaves
Interview by Nick Ramsay
Image from "10:28,30"(2019) by Paige Taul
NR:
Your film “10:28,30” immediately spoke to me, because I’m an identical twin. Your sister’s voice describing “people pushing this twin stuff in our face,” and the strange realization that no matter what you do to be an individual there’s always someone that is genetically identical to you out there… I’ve had these same experiences, and feel like they aren’t very well represented or explored in film. As a filmmaker who is so concerned with personal and family history, how has being a twin shaped you?
PT:
Being a twin has been reinforced by people outside of myself. Once when I asked for one of those tiny sticks of Trident gum, the person I asked told me I had to split with my sister! 
Scenarios like that were unhelpful in feeling like a whole person.
This idea of wholeness followed me into undergrad. My sister and I went to separate colleges and I was super excited to start from ground zero. People wouldn’t know I was a twin unless I told them. There was no other reference for me but me. Then I experienced a really intense longing for the company of my sister that I wasn’t prepared for. 
Being in such different collegiate environments, we bumped against very different social questions, one of which spurs a lot of my interests in filmmaking.  
As adults we still live in separate states and have very different lines of work. I’m very aware of this push and pull. I want to be close to her, and we are in many ways (we talk on the phone constantly). But I also love that we have different things to tell each other at the end of the day. I wish our time apart wasn’t so long and our time together so short. When we see each other after prolonged periods of time there are differences that aren’t immediately obvious. She smells different, she has a different accent having lived in Vermont for 7 years, different lingo. Clothes I’ve never seen. It can be disturbing. And interesting, because I know I’m different in these ways too.
In my work I’m very concerned with the permeability of identification. How do I signify or read signifiers in others? Is it in the way I talk and how I am talked to? Does something reveal itself in my style, tastes,etc? ​​​​​​​
Image from "The Promise"(2019) by Paige Taul
NR:
In “The Promise” your mom describes herself as a fatalist, and talks about coming face to face with death at a young age. In “10:28,30” you meditate on nature vs. nurture, and unplanned pregnancy. Are you drawn to questions about “fate”?
PT:
Yes, I am interested in the inner workings of fate or self determination. My mother wanted to be an actress, which is mentioned in 10:28,30, and she gets her chance to be one through my work. The children she has stop her from pursuing a particular kind of career which is later fulfilled by the children she stopped the career for. 
It’s like closing the loop. There is something graceful and prophetic, being able to do that.​​​​​​​
Image from "The Promise"(2019) by Paige Taul
NR:
You have a beautiful cinematic language that feels distinctly your own, even though your films aren’t necessarily “similar.” Voice is so important in both these films. In “10:28,30” you use different frame sizes. In “The Promise” we spend a lot of the film looking out the window of a car as it advances down a rural road. Can you talk about your artistic process, and what are the most important factors that guide you as you make your films?
PT:
I love nonfiction filmmaking because people are already so interesting. If there is sound, I start with an interview. Every person has their own cadence, timbre, and affect. The interview is usually the spine of the work, holds it up straight, gives it structure. I add the visual component and then it’s like tetris - what fits where and when. Is the segment overpacked or under-developed, etc.
As far as content I like to think that each work grants permission for the next one. So that they all remain connected. An interview with my mother where she mentions her family which gives way to make a film about her children, which then makes room to make a film about my father, then the next film is about  my grandfather, and it keeps going ad infinitum. ​​​​​​​
Image from "10:28,30"(2019) by Paige Taul
NR:
Are you currently working on any new projects?
PT:
Yes, I am. There is a documentary by Bill Greaves called “ Still a Brother: Inside the Negro Middle Class” that examines the lives and feelings of the black middle class. There’s a fantastic line from one of the interviewees in regards to American values, he says “All Americans, we think this way. I can’t think Irish, I can’t think African... I have to think with/in the structure in which I live which is a white society...Never until recently have I really been concerned that I am a Negro. I thought all the while that I was an American.” That line sticks. I’m interested in whether our values have changed in relation to the desire or aspiration to be middle class and beyond. Some people in my family own property and some rent, and I am curious about the tension between the decision and ability to purchase property. I’ll be shooting some footage for that pretty soon.
Image from "10:28,30"(2019) by Paige Taul
Paige Taul is an Oakland, CA native who received her B.A. in Studio Art with a concentration in cinematography from the University of Virginia and her M.F.A in Moving Image from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently resides in Chicago, IL. Her films "10:28,30" and "The Promise" screened as part of the opening night program 11/4 at Spectacle.
Nick Ramsay is a filmmaker and co-founder of Film Diary NYC.