Vulcan Productions

Vulcan Productions Vulcan Productions
 
Paul was captivated early in his life by the power of film and media. Much of this he attributed to watching triple features at Seattle’s historic Colonial Theater, a 1,000-seat venue located near what is today Westlake Center, as he was growing up. It was here, as he would describe later, that he learned to love “sitting in a dark room, watching a great story unfold.” 
Initially, he channeled his passion for creating great films into a partnership with Steven Spielberg, Jeffery Katzenberg, and David Geffen when, in 1995, Paul invested $500 million to help create DreamWorks. That was his largest single investment to that point — and five times what the other three contributed. But Hollywood was never a place Paul felt totally comfortable. After eventually selling his stake in DreamWorks, he said “When the smoke cleared, I wound up more or less doubling my money. After a dozen years in the glamorous, high-wire world of film production, I would have done about as well with a certificate of deposit. I just didn’t mesh well with Hollywood. I could never tell how much of what people told me was real.” 
Paul and Jody also formed their own film company in 1997. This time, though, he was determined to do things differently. Initially called Clear Blue Sky Productions, the name later changed to Vulcan Productions. The vision was to create artistically driven, small-budget, independent films and documentaries by providing financing and creative guidance. Their first release was Inspirations, a Michael Apted documentary exploring how artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Dale Chihuly, and David Bowie get their ideas. A follow-up documentary was Me and Isaac Newton, using the same storytelling approach to share how scientists such as Michio Kaku, Gertrude Elion, and Ashok Gadgil get inspired.
David Bowie in "Inspirations."
 
David Bowie in "Inspirations."
The company went on to create feature films that received critical acclaim. Titus, Hard Candy, and Where God Left His Shoes won outstanding reviews, while Far from Heaven with Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid earned four Oscar nominations.  
But Vulcan Productions, which ceased operations in early 2021, is probably most well-known for its powerful documentaries that bring compelling stories about critical issues to life. These include productions such as Racing Extinction, Body Team 12, Girl Rising, Evolution, Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge, and Martin Scorsese’s The Blues. Not only did these go on to receive critical acclaim (including Emmy, Peabody and other awards), they had a very real impact on lives around the world. 
Paul with Martin Scorsese and B.B. King, after co-producing the Emmy-award winning PBS series "The Blues." Photo courtesy K. Mazur/Wireimage.
The 2015 documentary "Racing Extinction" highlighted the dire situation for wildlife across the globe, and urged viewers to take action.
 
Paul with Martin Scorsese and B.B. King, after co-producing the Emmy-award winning PBS series "The Blues." Photo courtesy K. Mazur/Wireimage.
The 2015 documentary "Racing Extinction" highlighted the dire situation for wildlife across the globe, and urged viewers to take action.
Additional
Stories
Allen Institutes
Science
Allen
Institutes
The Allen Institute and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence lead cutting-edge science and making groundbreaking discoveries in bioscience and artificial intelligence research.
Microsoft
Futurist
Microsoft
 
Paul's name is, of course, synonymous with Microsoft, the company he co-founded with his friend Bill Gates, which changed the trajectory of modern computing.
Space
Exploration
Space
 
Paul pursued making space more accessible in ways that would fuel space innovation — including SpaceShipOne, the Allen Telescope Array, and Stratolaunch, the world's largest airplane by wingspan.
Great Elephant Census
Exploration
Great Elephant
Census
The Great Elephant Census was a massive undertaking to survey the remaining savanna elephants across the African continent. Results of this survey shocked the world into action.
Seattle Seahawks
Pacific Northwest
Seahawks
 
Paul purchased the Seattle Seahawks NFL franchise in 1997, and since then the team has gone on to make three Super Bowl appearances.
Tech for Good
Science
Tech for
Good
Paul believed technology could be leveraged to protect our planet, wildlife, and resources, and improve the lives of people everywhere.