An Interview with Paul Kratka – By Brian Morton

If you know us here at Rogue Cinema…and you should be getting to know us pretty well by now…then you know that one of our favorite indie artists is Scott Goldberg (The Day They Came Back, All I Want For Christmas, The Forest Hills). Well, one of Scott’s favorite actors is Paul Kratka, who began his career back in 1982 in Friday The 13th Part 3 (which for those of you too young to have been able to see this in theatres, was in glorious 3D!). Well, after taking a break from acting for 20 some odd years, Mr. Kratka is back in the acting game. His time off wasn’t uneventful either, he had a very successful chiropractic practice for years, and, now that he’s retired from that, had decided to step back into acting, and judging by the work he’s done with Scott in The Day They Came Back, he really hasn’t missed a step. I thought it would be great to get the chance to talk with Mr. Kratka about his career(s), working with Scott and what’s next for this multi-talented actor.

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 BM – Thanks for taking the time, I know you’re very busy.

PK – No problem, thank you.

BM – How did you get started in acting?

PK – For some reason I always had deep in me a desire to "perform"; I wasn’t consciously aware that that’s what the desire was, but it was part of my core ‘being’. So, when I was 19 years old I was going to Santa Monica City College and decided to enroll in the drama class. On the first day of class there was an announcement that later that week would be auditions for that semester’s theater production of ‘Harvey’. I thought to myself, I’ll go check out the auditions and see what happens at an audition. Well I watched a few people read for the director (I think his name was Charles McMurphy) and thought "I can do that". So I read and was cast in one of the supporting principal roles (Dr. Lyman Sanderson, I believe). Well, that was it – I was totally hooked and felt that I had found a creative outlet that really resonated with me.

BM – Tell us (those of us who don’t already know that story) about getting the part of Rick in Friday the 13th Part 3.

PK – Well now we fast forward about 7 years and I had been studying acting at a professional acting studio in North Hollywood (taught by Laura Rose, a wonderful elderly acting coach who taught me SO much about the importance of an actor listening and ‘being in the moment’ versus "acting"). By this time I had also had a small amount of success getting work on commercials and a small part on General Hospital. At the acting class I had developed a great friendship with a talented young actor named Harris Kal (recurring role on Happy Days). Well one day Harris told me about a casting call he’d been to where the casting directors had been particularly friendly (which isn’t always the case with casting directors, which is ironic because the more at ease an actor is, the better their reading will be). Harris told me to go to the audition and meet these two cool casting directors (Bill Lytle and Dave Eman?). When I went and read for them, they were indeed very nice and they liked me and wanted me to come back the next day to read for the part of the male lead for the producer and director. I remember Bill Lytle also telling me he had gone home for lunch one day, which was unusual for him and his wife happened to have the TV on watching General Hospital AND it was the episode I was on and when it was over, Mr. Lytle said he commented to his wife ‘that actor did a good job with that small part’. As I was leaving that first audition that day, they (the casting directors) mentioned that the character I would be reading for was a guy who lived in the mountains and worked as a carpenter (meaning he wasn’t a city boy). The next time I came in to read I had decided to come "in character" so I was wearing jeans, work boots, parka, and I was carrying a couple of 2×4’s and a Skil Saw. In the room was the producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. (whose father was the head of Paramount Pictures at the time) and the director Steve Minor as well as the casting directors – well, they loved the fact that I came in "in character". They also seemed to like my reading. Over the next six weeks they had me read again and again with various actresses as they were trying to lock down who the star was going to be. It was a nerve wracking time because although I was inclined to think I had the part, I hadn’t actually signed any contract yet.

BM – Did making the movie in 3D make it more difficult to film?

PK – Absolutely. It was a newer 3D technology that year with the camera lenses, etc. so all the set ups took longer and some particular scenes took many takes to get the technical aspects dialed just right. Also, because this was Part 3, there was more studio money involved and so more care was taken to make a better film both technically and dramatically.

 BM – Since you’ve worked in all three, which do you prefer as an actor, film, TV or stage?

PK – Well, although I’ve never had the opportunity to do series on TV and I’m sure that would be an amazing experience to work on a character over time in a serial drama or comedy; that being said, I would say that TV would probably be my last choice. As to theater work, it is unbelievable in that as an actor you get the luxury of extensive rehearsals, live performances in front of an audience, and multiple performances over time – that is heaven to me! Film work though has an entirely different appeal in that it’s such focused and intimate work with much greater subtleties to the acting itself; and, the work is caught on film to not only save but to study. That and the opportunity to try different things within the luxury of filming multiple ‘takes’ of each scene. So, they’re all exciting and unique and challenge an actor in different ways.

BM – After Friday Part 3, you left acting to pursue a career as a Chiropractor. Was that always your plan?

PK – No, actually, I did want to have a career as an actor; unfortunately, after F13 I made the mistake of changing agents and my new agent thought that because I had just done the lead in one film I was ready for the big time. In retrospect, our strategy should have been to simply build upon that initial great exposure to slowly add to my credits by doing smaller or supportive roles in more ‘major’ projects. Anyway, I started to see the unpredictability and uncertainty of devoting ones life to being an actor and I was uncomfortable with that fact. I had always loved the ocean and thought that I would then go back to college and pursue a degree in marine biology. So, I was taking a lot of chemistry, biology, physiology and physics courses when I met a chiropractor who saw that I had a strong interest in health and suggested that I consider becoming a chiropractor. That planted the seed and six or some odd years later I graduated Chiropractic School. Because the chiropractic school was on the east bay of San Francisco I continued to work by doing some commercial print modeling and some on-camera spokesman work and more commercials in San Francisco. As it often turns out, God had a plan and it was for me to study health for twenty years and then utilize my acting and speaking abilities to save lives and change beliefs in my career as a chiropractor and even now after that career has ‘formally’ ended.

BM – After a “break”, you’re back! How did you meet Scott Goldberg?

PK – Yes, I recently retired after 18 years in practice and I am so thrilled to be acting again. I don’t know how many years ago, maybe three or four now, Scott Goldberg contacted me about doing a film with him. I didn’t know who he was but checked him out as best as I could and thought that he was a legitimate fledgling director. I went back to New York (I live in the San Diego area) and we filmed THE DAY THEY CAME BACK. When I saw the finished film it was obvious that Scott is highly creative and well trained. Since then we’ve worked together on a couple of other projects (ILLUMINATED, and more recently LOSS OF HOPE, as well as a monumental documentary Scott’s working on about the need for worldwide awakening on all societal levels called DYING FOR CHANGE). I feel blessed to get to work with Scott in that he is a highly creative film maker and he possesses intense passion for having his films make a difference, whether it’s in the resurrection of the classic horror genre or bringing political and social truths to the forefront. We both share an understanding and a passion for the role that food plays in determining our health so we always eat a lot of raw food when we get together which has definitely made us closer friends over these years.

BM – That’s interesting, my wife and I have been changing out diet to include more raw foods also. Speaking now as a health professional, are there any other changes that you would recommend?

PK – That is a huge question Brian. To start, we have to face the fact that we as a culture have deviated SO FAR from what our genetic development requires for optimal function and health that we are in an epidemic of acute and chronic disease that shows no sign of letting up. Furthermore, nearly all the diseases that we as a society are afflicted with are ‘behavior related’ conditions due to poor lifestyle habits in the way we eat, move and think; what diseases that aren’t due to poor lifestyle habits are caused by toxicities and deficiencies within our diet and environment, which is actually also just an extension of our lifestyle choices. The fact is that humans are the sickest animals on the planet [the second sickest animals are the ones that we domesticate]. So, what’s the simplest answer to this monumental problem? The solution lies in becoming masters of lifestyle management – how we eat, how we move, and how we think. Presently, we live sedentary lives in which we are subjected to chronic stress – a lethal double whammy; we eat highly processed, chemically-laden, and nutritiously deficient non-foods; and our minds are dominated by negative and destructive thought patterns. If we attack each one of these areas with common sense and by implementing simple choices we can turn the tide in our efforts to be healthy. So, the first aspect would be to make sure we exercise daily – our ancestors, to whom we are genetically identical with, were active people – movement and exercise are essential to being healthy. The positive effect that exercise has on every system in the body (blood sugar and insulin regulation, cardiovascular, immune, mental, digestive, hormonal, etc.) is undisputed within the scientific community (as well the negative effect that a lack of exercise produces). Secondarily, we must make a concerted effort to manage our lives to minimize the stress we are confronted with on a regular basis. Again, our ancestors are great models for us to learn from; yes, they might have occasionally faced the threat of a wild animal chasing them, but they didn’t experience the ‘chronic’ (meaning somewhat constant) stress that is now endemic to our modern culture. Stress negatively impacts all aspects of physiological function. Third, we must move our dietary habits in the direction of eating simple whole foods that will provide our bodies with the nutrients that will allow it to thrive. On a more practical level, this means eating only organically grown foods and at least 80% of our food eaten raw – things like vegetable salads, raw nuts and seeds, and fresh fruits; the grains we eat should be minimal and always ‘sprouted grains’ versus refined flours. At the same time it is critical to avoid the following toxic, health-robbing non-foods: artificial sweeteners (aspartame or NutraSweet and sucralose or Splenda) , hydrogenated oils, milk, fried foods (this includes chips), soda pop, cured meats, refined carbohydrates (i.e. bread, pasta, crackers, sugar, candy, cookies, cakes, etc.), and high fructose corn syrup. Lastly, we have to think about what we think about. We are a culture of emotionally imbalanced people due to anger, unforgiveness, criticism (both of self and others), lack of gratitude, compassion, and empathy in our daily thoughts. Yes, we may have moments of great compassion for victims of a hurricane or some other tragedy, but in our daily interactions, we are, generally speaking, not a society that would be described as content. Now here’s the rub – all of these things I’ve touched upon affect the other. For example, if you exercise regularly the effects of stress will be significantly decreased; additionally, exercise will help your mental or emotional state, and can (combined with eating well) prevent and reverse diabetes and obesity, which are increasing exponentially in America. If you eat a diet of predominantly raw foods, you will have more energy and enhanced mental attitude, and fewer cravings for toxic processed foods which rob the body of nutrients, creating disease and a low emotional state. As you can see, I could go on and on.

 BM – How does working now (on a lower budget) compare to working on Friday The 13th?

PK – It’s a world of difference, with both having their positive and negative aspects to them. Big budget studio films can be, although more complex in the logistics and on-the-set mechanics, actually a more simple process for the actor because there is more support (i.e. crew and technology) available so that the talent has the luxury of being able to focus simply on their craft. Low budget films afford an intimacy and creative process that is often absent amongst the ‘dog and pony show’ environment that are common to big budget films. An interesting story about when we were filming LOSS OF HOPE. The script was written to take place during a post-nuclear strike during the oppressive heat of summer; however, it was butt-ass cold where we were filming at Welwyn Preserve on Long Island so we (at my insistence, being the quintessential cold-weather wimp from Southern California even in my long underwear) had to change the situation to it being very cold. I doubt if that could have happened on a studio film. As it turns out, I believe it was a change for the better (but perhaps you should confirm that with Scott – ha, ha!) because the cold environment gave the scenes a very real grittiness that will contrast well with flashback scenes that take place during summertime. I also think that low budget films capitalize on the collaborative creative process in ways that can’t happen on big budget films. All that being said, I’m looking forward to working with Scott in the future when he can get the financing to add more to his production values that are unavailable on the set of a low budget film.

BM – I notice that on the new movie, illuminated, you did some writing. Will you ever write and direct your own movie?

PK – I did very little writing for ILLUMINATED – Scott is being overly generous in stating that. I simply rewrote a few lines of the script to make it easier to follow and to enhance the continuity. As far as writing and/or directing my own movie, I doubt it. I would like to function of a producer to help organize and facilitate the bringing of a filmmaker’s vision to the screen – I feel I definitely can make a contribution in that area. But, truly my passion lies in performing; ironically though, I don’t like looking at myself on film as much as you’d imagine – I love the craft of acting.

BM – What’s next for you?

PK – Well, in mid-June I’ll head back to New York to finish up some filming on LOSS OF
HOPE and do so more filming for the documentary DYING FOR CHANGE. I’m hoping that the rest of this year will bring some new opportunities for me to act as more filmmakers find out that I’m interested in working more now that I’ve stopped being in active practice. Also, I’m part of a start-up online health program call (well-people.com) that should be launched sometime this summer that I get to combine my acting skills as a speaker with my passion for teaching the world about wellness and disease prevention.

BM – Thanks so much for taking the time!

PK – Thanks so much Brian for this wonderful opportunity to share some of my experiences and thoughts with you and your audience. I think that F13 FANS ARE AWESOME – THEY’RE THE BEST!

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As you can see Paul is a very passionate guy, and the documentary that he’s working on with Scott, Illuminated, is a passion project for both men. We here at Rogue Cinema can’t wait to see it! We’re hoping that Mr. Kratka keeps up the amazing work, and we can’t wait to see more from this talented actor…and we hope to get some more advice to improving our health too!