The Filmmakers | Paul Barnes

Paul Barnes

Paul Barnes attended The New York University Institute of Film and Television from 1969 – 1973 and studied under experimental filmmaker Len Lye and documentarian George Stoney. While still a student, he was chosen to edit a federally funded film on pre-school education, and he’s been editing ever since. Some of the most noteworthy films from Paul’s career are: Wasn’t That A Time!, for which he won Best Documentary Editing for 1982 from the American Cinema Editors; Say Amen Somebody, which was accepted at the prestigious New York Film Festival; and The Thin Blue Line, which was chosen as the best documentary of 1988 by the New York Film Critics.

Since 1984 when he edited Statue of Liberty (which was nominated for an Academy Award), Paul Barnes has collaborated with Ken Burns of Florentine Films. Their partnership has produced some of the most seminal work in the history of documentary filmmaking. The Civil War premiered in September 1990, and became the highest rated series in the history of American Public Television. It won more than forty major film and television awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, the Peabody Award and the Lincoln Prize. Since then, Paul has gone on to edit or supervise the editing on most of Burns’ films, including: Baseball; Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio; Thomas Jefferson; and Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery.

In 1997 Paul produced his first film with Ken Burns, the story of suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony aired in November 1999.  It won a Peabody Award in 2000 and Emmy Award for Julie Harris’ voice performance as Susan B. Anthony. Paul was the supervising editor on the ten-part Burns production on the history of jazz music. Jazz aired in January 2001, and went on to receive 5 Emmy nominations including for Best Editing.  Paul was the co-producer and co-editor of Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, a two-part film about the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion. The film aired in 2005 and won three Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Nonfiction Special. Paul went on to act as supervising film editor on The War, a seven-part film that aired on PBS in the fall of 2007.  The winner of multiple awards, The War was the most-watched series in the last ten years on PBS.

Paul then went onto become supervising film editor on Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s six-part series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. This show won the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Non-Fiction Series of 2009.

Paul was the lead producer and one of three editors of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, a film on the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.  This seven-part, fourteen-hour series will air on PBS in September, 2014.

Besides his editing and producing responsibilities, Paul Barnes has also held teaching positions in the film departments at New York University and Keene State College. Paul was born in Everett, Massachusetts, in February 1951 and presently resides in Alstead, New Hampshire.