Paul Rogers, Academy Award winner for Everything Everywhere All at Once, was back in The Magic City on July 19th.
Rogers was speaking to the downtown Rotary Club. He shared in an open forum, led by his dad Rotarian Alan Rogers, on what the path to stellar success has been like.
The meeting was memorable and inspirational.
First a little background. Last March, the quirky sci-fi action adventure Everything Everywhere All at Once racked up 7 awards from the Academy and countless other honors.
Bham Now followed Birmingham natives Daniel Scheinert and Rogers’ journey to the award podium. Here is a number of our stories
- Birmingham natives win BAFTA awards for Everything Everywhere All At Once [WATCH]
- Birmingham natives win “big” at 95th Academy Awards for Everything Everywhere All at Once
- A whirlwind with Melissa Springer—Birmingham native & Oscar winner Paul Rogers’ mom
Even though the Harbert Center banquet room holds several hundred people, the Q&A format was informal, with father and son sitting in front of the stage.
It was also a special day for the Rogers family, with many of them in attendance sitting in the front of the stage.
Here are highlights from the Q&A session:
1. How did Paul get interested in filmmaking?
Paul proceeded to tell a story about how a high school classmate named Peter Hastings got permission to shoot a video in lieu of writing a paper.
“He’d go off and make a kung fu movie…. So, I wanted to do that because I was not a scholarly student.”
He got hooked then and there on making films.
2. What kind of impact did Alabama Public Television have on his career?
Paul later attended a film school in New Mexico, got a degree and came back to Birmingham after landing a job at Alabama Public Television. He worked there for seven years.
“It (APT) was like such a great family atmosphere. What I loved about Alabama Public Television was that it is mission-based. It’s not profit chasing. It’s not coolness chasing. It’s not trying to be the hippest place in town. They have a mission, which is to educate and to tell stories fairly, and that’s what they do. That is something that I’ve tried to take forward in the commercial markets that I’m in now. What is it going to accomplish in the world?”
3. Why did he leave Birmingham to Hollywood?
Paul described his life as comfortable in Birmingham, but one day while watching trailers and short films he came upon one that triggered him to pack up his 20 year old Honda Accord and leave for LA.
“I was watching short films and I saw a film called Until the Quiet Comes. I watched it like six times that day just over and over and over again. And sat at my desk with my head cocked to the side and I was like, I think I have to quit my job and move to LA and find these people.”
That was his breakthrough moment. He showed the film Until the Quiet Comes to the Rotarians— Below is the film:
4. How did he meet fellow Birmingham native director Daniel Scheinert?
Paul told the Rotarians how he got into editing and how he met Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan for the first time at a skating rink.
“I met The Daniels at a roller skating rink in LA. I had kind of a rule for myself when I got out there (LA). For the first 6 months, I wouldn’t say no to any invitation that I got. One day someone invited me out to someone’s birthday party that I didn’t know. When I got there it was Daniel Scheinert’s birthday. I just showed up with no money and I forgot my wallet. I was like, can you pay for my skates? So Daniel paid for my skates. We spent time that night. In that process, I found out they (The Daniels) made films. And so that was kind of my entry into the film world in LA.”
The rest is history of course.
5. What was it like winning an Oscar?
Since their chance meeting in LA, Paul has worked closely with Daniel on numerous projects, ranging from music videos and short films to one of the most decorated films in cinematic history.
“The respect that everyone had for everyone else was really, really wonderful. I loved it. It was exhausting. I wish that everyone on the film had been nominated and won and because it was really a very tight knit group of us that made the film. Dan and Daniel (The Daniels – Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan) work with their friends, the same people from when they first started making $1,000 music videos to now this multimillion dollar film—they’re gonna continue doing that.”
6. Sidewalk Film Festival – “Hollywood speaks highly of it”
Toward the end of the Q&A the audience got to ask a few questions. Paul was asked about Birmingham’s own Sidewalk Film Festival.
“I always went to the Sidewalk Film Festival but I was never bold enough to do the 24-hour Sidewalk Scrambles. I love going and Hollywood speaks so highly of it. I don’t think I realized the reach of Sidewalk until I came back. The vibe of it. The feeling of it. It is one of the most fun festivals.”
7. What makes the film industry in Alabama standout?
At the end of the Rotary meeting, Paul and his family gathered together for photos. We asked him about Alabama and the film industry. He told us there are very few Southerners, so he and others stand out. Citing Sidewalk Film, which released its full schedule for the August 21-27 festival last week, he noted its growth and importance.
“Sidewalk is a great ambassador for the city. It’s a great way to get people here to see the interesting things that are going on in the arts community and the welcoming spirit of Alabama it brings.”
The Downtown Rotary Club definitely rolled out the red carpet for Rogers and his family. To learn more about the group—which is the largest Rotary Club in the U.S.—visit their website at birminghamrotary.org.
Are you a fan of Everything Everywhere All at Once? Tell us on social media your favorite scenes about the movie and stories about Paul Rogers and Daniel Scheinert by tagging us at @bhamnow