About



PAULSON PRODUCTIONS' 
 programming 
has been seen worldwide on broadcast television, movie theaters, film festivals, jumbo concert screens, streaming and social media. 

From biographies on music luminaries Les Paul and Woody Guthrie, to stunning aerial treatments of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River, from PBS concert shows to films on social issues and faith, Paulson Productions is the driving force behind dozens of hours of unique, engaging and dignified media.  

It was founded by Emmy Award-winning producer John Paulson, a member of the Director’s Guild of America, who also worked for the Smithsonian Institution where he created acclaimed shows on music, arts, history and culture.

Today, Paulson Productions continues to develop and manage an array of high-quality award-winning media programming.



CURRENTLY Paulson is developing and producing: 

  • JFK: The Lost Inaugural Gala. a long-forgotten 1961 inaugural gala concert, when Frank Sinatra and a cavalcade of stars convened to celebrate JFK, serves as the framing device for this film that explores how the Kennedys inspired a new age of American artistic expression at the dawn of Camelot
  • Virgil Thomson: Creating the American Sound. an American Masters biography celebrating one of the most unknown yet pioneering classical music composers and querulous music critic, and progenitor of the "American sound" in classical music
  • Take Me Back To Tulsa: Celebrating Western Swing. an authentic Western-swing dance party starring Lyle Lovett featuring an homage to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys  
  • Remembering America's Rock 'n' Roll War. celebrates Vietnam Veterans through an analysis of the music of the time, which was ubiquitous and a central protagonist in that tumultuous era in history
  • Jackie Gleason: The Great One. an American Masters biography on one of television's most legendary comedians and gigantic stars.
  • Joyce DiDonato: Count Me In. World-renown mezzo-soprano and Metropolitan Opera star Joyce DiDonato takes a group of 8th graders under her expert tutelage and prepares them for the "audition of a lifetime" at one of New York City's coveted High Schools for the Performing Arts, helping their young dreams to come true. 
  • The Elvis Jukebox. an examination of the 78 rpm records Presley collected when he was young and then "covered," turning rhythm and blues tunes like "Hound Dog" and "That's Alright" into the hits that gave birth to rock n' roll

 



RECENTLY  Paulson created: 

  • The social issue documentary, A Raisin In The Sun Revisited from Baltimore's Centerstage, and a concert program featuring Metropolitan Opera star Joyce DiDonato performing with the Kansas City Symphony, both for the PBS Arts Festival; 
  • The Potomac By Air: Our Nation's River and Chesapeake Bay By Air, celebrating from a privileged aerial view the abundant natural beauty and American history that abounds along these premiere national waterways.
  • The PBS/American Masters film Les Paul - Chasing Sound!, a feature-length performance documentary on the legendary guitarist and inventor, and the companion farewell concert film Les Paul Live in New York. He also produced big-screen videos for Gibson Guitar's concert "Tribute to Les Paul" at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium.

HE DIRECTED multiple Emmy Award-winning documentaries for Maryland Public Television: 

  • Conowingo Dam: Power on the Susquehanna, on the building in 1928 of this hydro electric dam on the Susquehanna River. 
  • Secrets of the Chesapeake on little known and entertaining facets of the country's largest estuary. 
  • The Chesapeake Bay Bridge: Spanning The Bay on the state's towering architectural icon featuring a vintage 1953 Cadillac driving over the bridge filmed in 3D. 
  • Chesapeake Bay By Air, a look at the splendor of the country's largest estuary from a breathtaking aerial vantage point.
  • Eatin' Crabcakes - The Best Ever, a mouth-watering look at Chesapeake Bay crab cake culture and cuisine.  
IN ADDITION Paulson completed the following:

  • Cinematographer on the theatrically released films Rejoice And Shout on the history of gospel music, and Waiting for Superman on the state of the nation's education system. 
  • Directed documentary coverage for Liza's At The Palace
  • Produced the pop music concert program Three Mo' Divas for PBS
  • Produced and directed Oklahoma!, a Broadway youth adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein's beloved musicals.
  • Director and cinematographer for a film on the birth of the landmark National Museum of the American Indian. 
  • Produced and directed cinematography for the Smithsonian’s Silk Road Festival, a sprawling display of music, craft, and culture with performances by cellist Yo Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble. 
  • Edited and supervised post production for the flamenco dance spectacular Fury: Passion, Power, Flamenco.
  • Edited the television pilot for From The Top, the public radio series which became the acclaimed PBS series. 

 
FOR TWELVE YEARS
 Paulson was a filmmaker at Smithsonian Productions, the media production unit of the Smithsonian Institution, where
he created the award-winning film Woody Guthrie: Legacy featuring Billy Bragg, Bruce Springsteen, Ani DiFranco, and Arlo Guthrie. He also produced Guide to the Smithsonian, a guide to the sprawling complex of Smithsonian museums and research centers. He was director of photography for the PBS documentary Three Hundred Years of People and Pianos, and director of photography/editor for the PBS special Piano Grand: A Smithsonian Celebration starring Billy Joel.  

He also worked on the expansive 7-part Public Radio and 4-part PBS series The Mississippi: River of Song, which received the George Foster Peabody Award.

He made films on the allure of the banjo, Banjo Spirits; the disappearing native Ojibwa birch-bark canoe building craft, Earl’s Canoe; contemporary Nigerian art, The Poetics of Line; and the Smithsonian’s big band Jazz Masterworks Orchestra LIVE!  

 


PAULSON HAS APPEARED as a guest of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; presented his films at a numerous film festivals and museums; lectured at The American University in Washington, D.C. and the Audio Engineering Society (AES); and has been interviewed on radio, web and print.

Among his travels, Paulson has been to Vietnam as a guest of the Hanoi Museum of Ethnology to train Vietnamese museum staff in the craft of cultural documentation; Cuba to film the origins of Mambo music for the independent feature documentary MAMBONIKS!; and Jerusalem on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution to film the cultural traditions of that continue to flourish in this ethnically divided city.
 
Paulson is a member of the Director's Guild of America (DGA) and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS).
  
PAULSON PRODUCTIONS IS RECOGNIZED with some of the industry's highest honors: the Primetime Emmy Award nomination, multiple regional Emmy Awards, ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, Silver TELLY Awards, Silver Hugo Award from the Chicago International Film Festival, the Silver MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums, the CINE Golden Eagles, the Gold CINDY Award, the New York Festivals Award, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Gold and Silver Medals, and the International Documentary Association's IDA Award.
 
Mr. Paulson was educated at The American University (MA) and at Southern Illinois University (BS).