about the film
Paper Birds focuses on a unique moment in time during the intersection of two very different worlds: the fading era of the traditional American circus and the rise of television.
The year is 1951, and the Champy Family Circus faces imminent foreclosure unless its famous trapeze artist, Charles Champy, and his brother, Bernard Champy, can save it. When Charles loses his trapeze partner to an unfortunate injury, it looks as if they will have to cancel a very crucial New York City show. When Bernard seeks the advice of longtime friend, Danny Duval, a talent agent at William Morris, a solution arises that will have polarizing results: enlist a TV starlets to draw attention to the Champy Circus.
Virginia Day is a beautiful TV starlet in her 20s who has big aspirations but has just been written off her TV show. Danny sees the circus as the perfect opportunity to get Virginia’s face back in the spotlight and her name back in the papers. The only catch is she’ll have to join the circus while they’re here in New York. Charles is reluctant to accept change or sacrifice the integrity of traditional circus artistry. He’s been selling the same tired show for over a decade. Virginia just needs to get through this show so she doesn't fade out of the spotlight, however, something about trapeze enfatuates her in a way she didn't quite expect.
Meanwhile, An impending merger threatens the future partnership of the circus as Bernard must make quick decisions on how to keep the show financially afloat. A nervous, introverted man, Bernard is easily manipulated by those trying to make a dollar off his hardships. He negotiates risky business terms that hang the legacy of the family circus, and his relationship with his brother, in the balance. Trying to work in secret, Bernard makes great effort to cover his tracks and come up with the money to pay back their debt.
Our portrayal of this world focuses less on the spectacle of the circus, but of the real and gritty struggles that take place behind the curtains. We are close and intimate with our characters as we follow them on their journey to stay relevant.