Q&A with filmmaker Paul Steinbroner

Paul Steinbroner, Filmmaker

So grateful for my long-term partnership with my cinematic partner William Cohen (dearly departed) and Dr Darryl Inaba formerly director of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic. Together we published eight editions of the book Uppers, Downers, All Arounders. Currently, I’ve created a series of films on how connection and community are the antidote to addiction. Two of these films were selected for this year’s Reel Recovery Film Festival – Home Boy Joy Ride and Soul Sanctuary.  I am currently in the process of finishing another film for that series, Journeys on the Red Road. I have started editing my next project – JustUs – which is the story of one family in New Mexico that is trying to heal a neighborhood that is infested with heroin and meth dealers. It is a very spiritual approach as they try to heal generational trauma. I am so grateful for the miracle of my choice to start this series nearly four years ago.


Q. If you are in recovery, what was your Drug of Choice? and when did you stop using?
A. 1983

Q. Do you think addiction is an illness, disease, a choice or a wicked twist of fate?
A. Addiction is a combination of heredity, environment, and exposure to drugs. It is a disease that takes over the life of a susceptible host.

Q. Do you log on to Zoom 12-step meetings? How often? Do you share?
A. I am in lots of Zoom meetings and I often share.

Q. Have you added anything to your Tool-kit to help keep you sober during the pandemic?
A. Zoom meetings with other filmmakers, staying in touch with the participants from this film, gardening, reading mountain biking.

Q. Where did you grow up?
A. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Ashland, Oregon

Q. From what school or teacher did you learn the most?
A. I got to know Thomas Pynchon and over the years we spoke constantly about films and writing. He was the first person I knew that made a living as an artist.

Q. If you had an extra million dollars, which charity would you donate it to?
A. I would give to either Beit T’Shuvah or Home Boy Industries.

Q. Do you have any children?
A. I have two sons – one is a musician the other is a scientist.

Q. Have you started any new projects because of the quarantine?
A. Pre-Covid, I was working on six documentaries and now I am finishing one after the other. My current project is Journeys on the Red Road which is the story of overcoming addiction and historical trauma through community and connection

Q. If you ever retire would you prefer to live by the ocean, lake, river, mountaintop or penthouse?
A. I love the ocean because of the proximity to nature. I love the moderate temperature and the clean air. Currently I live in a rural area near the Columbia river and close to the Cascade Mountain range.

Q. What is your favorite hotel or resort?
A. Tumulus which is in Carnac, France

Q. Who has had the biggest influence on you throughout your life?
A. I would have to say my parents – they made it through the depression, and were in the service during World War II. They were hard working, liked to have fun, and they taught me to be loving and forgiving

Q. If you were giving a dinner party for your 3 favorite authors, living or dead, who would they be? (choose 4 if you think one might be too drunk or stoned to attend.)
A. Hildagarde of Bingen, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Richard Rohr

Q. What books are you reading now?
A. The Universal Christ – Richard Rohr; Caste – Isabel Wilkerson; The Second Mountain – David Brooks

Q. What is your FAVORITE Radio show, news show, podcast?
A. Hearts of Space, On Being

Q. What is your FAVORITE APP?
A. Whats App

Q. Which film have you watched the most?
A. My own films – as the editor I have watched my films hundreds of times. I still enjoy them over time. I am glad I chose to make films about people finding their balance and moving towards recovery. This continues to inspire me to search out other stories that display resilience.

Q. Who is your FAVORITE Director?
A. Agnes Varda, Les Blank, Michael Moore

Q. Who is your favorite sober celebrity?
A. Anthony Hopkins

Q. What is your FAVORITE Band/composer/musical artist?
A. Jacques Offenbach, Frederic Chopin, Leonard Cohen, Ray Davis

Q. What is your FAVORITE Broadway musical/play?
A. Orpheus in the Underworld- Jacques Offenbach

Q. What is your FAVORITE City?
A. New Orleans

Q. What is your FAVORITE Museum?
A. National Gallery – Washington, DC

Q. What is your FAVORITE Restaurant?
A. Chez Nous – no need to jones over someplace I can’t go. After years on the road the best food is home cooked. We have a garden so we can usually find the ingredients.

Q What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. Persistence is its own reward

Q. What is the best piece of advice YOU’VE given?
A. Don’t follow your artistic impulses over the clff

Q. What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
A. Becoming a filmmaker

Q. What is your biggest regret?
A. je regret rien

Q. Have you ever been arrested and if so, for what?
A. Yes, drugs

Q. What is the proudest moment in your life?
A. Becoming a parent- best job ever