Adam Paul ’06 almost choked on a pistachio when he got a call that his show, American Music Spotlight, won the 2021 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Directing Team for a Multiple Camera Daytime Non-Fiction Program.
“It was shocking to get nominated, and then to win was unreal,” says Paul, CEO of 7 Cinematics, a live music and event broadcasting production company. “I kept saying I wasn’t going to believe it until I had the Emmy in my hand because it seemed impossible that we beat Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch.”
Paul’s independently produced show also beat the 94th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration and CBS This Morning. The 13-episode, 4K documentary series aired on the Circle network and DirecTV, and features top acts like Dawes, Shovels & Rope and Widespread Panic performing at historic theaters around the country.
“American Music Spotlight was my dream, my passion,” says Paul. “It’s another form of storytelling; it’s documenting these bands and these people and capturing a moment in time – and we did it with no budget.”
With the motto, “Haul water and chop wood,” 7 Cinematics isn’t afraid of hard work, which has contributed to its success. Paul says this is unique in an industry that’s often negative and cutthroat, joking that, while he and his team are avid music fans, they work every gig with an almost ninja-like approach.
“I love when people tell me, ‘You can’t,’ ‘You won’t’ or ‘You shouldn’t,’ do something, because it sparks the fire inside me,” he says. “Now we literally are arguably the No. 1 live production company for music on the face of the planet.”
He’s not exaggerating: 7 Cinematics has worked with some of the top musicians in locations around the world, including a livestream of the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Great Pyramids of Giza. An international production like that involves complex logistics, customs, drones, satellites, power grids and security – and would normally take months. Paul did it in 28 days.
“It’s literally the greatest and hardest thing that I’ve ever done,” says the studio art major, who credits the College for giving him the freedom to explore his craziest ideas. “The art department was integral to building my career. I did a lot of photography and printmaking and an immense amount of sculpture, because I love the three dimensions and being able to capture an actual moment in time. When I found video, I realized I could combine all the elements that I loved.”
And, it turns out, they were all the right elements for success on both sides of the camera for his fishing show GillzNFinz, which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in. After two seasons and two Emmy nominations, Paul ended the show in 2010 to start a production company, Catch Multimedia, in Charleston. Then, in 2017, he moved back home to Greensboro, North Carolina, to join 7 Cinematics.
Whether it’s filming a series for TV or producing a live concert, Paul is always searching for the “flow state,” which he compares to a surfer searching for the perfect wave. And he rode that wave in 2020, when 7 Cinematics did a four-night event at Red Rocks Amphitheater for the City of Denver.
“Each night was a different band – and, on the third night, the sky was orange from a forest fire 30 miles away,” he recalls. “The smoke was blowing over us, and we were locked in and focused. It’s a powerful feeling when everybody gets goosebumps. That’s what we’re always searching for, because people need music – that’s what matters.”