L.A. producer shares
perspectives at workshop

Stephen Simon

It’s not often that a Hollywood feature producer of Stephen Simon’s stature comes to town to talk to filmmakers.

He’s the producer of 25 movies in 25 years, including such hits as “Smokey and the Bandit,” “All the Right Moves” and the now-classic “Somewhere in Time.”

Simon’s Saturday, March 29 workshop, “A Producer’s Perspective on Filmmaking,” takes place at what appears at first glance to be an offbeat venue for a film seminar.

But Unity of Chicago, a 1,500-member, inter-denominational spiritual center, is very closely akin to Simon’s focus on Spiritual Cinema, summed up in the title of his new book, “The Force is with You: Mystical Movie Messages that Inspire Our Lives.”

During the workshop, Simon goes through the actual process of making a film, including the fine art of pitching the project to those who control its future. “Writers are encouraged to bring scenes that are, hopefully, but not totally necessary, in the spiritual genre. We’ll have those scenes performed in the afternoon,” he says.

Simon, who resides in Ashland, Oregon, was the president of the film companies of Dino deLaurentis and Ray Stark, for whom he produced dozens of popular features. He co-founded the Metafilmics production company whose focus is Spiritual Cinema.

He describes the genre as “having a built-in audience of 50 to 60 million people who want messages that are empowering and positive about our humanity. It doesn’t require major stars or that enormous amounts to be spent on visual effects.”

Current films he categorizes as Spiritual Cinema are “The Hours,” and “Far from Heaven,” that fit into films about the feminine ascension I this age, and “Antwone Fisher,” “an extraordinary look at the choices we make to transcend and transform personal hardship.”

Simon says his fascination of “who we are and why we are here early in life.” When he read the book of “Somewhere in Time, he decided to make that book into a movie and with it the commitment to always make movies with a spiritual content.”

Next year, he will produce a feature based on Richard Bach’s classic novel, “Illusions,” to be directed by Christopher Reeve.

He believes “this conscious combination of movies and spirituality is ready to burst forth.”

At the Saturday seminar, though, his perspective will be that of a successful Hollywood film producer sharing rare personal and practical insights with ambitious actors, writers, directors and filmmakers.

Cost of the seminar is $175 and includes a box lunch. Call Unity at 773/259-9640 to reserve limited space. – Ed M. Koziarski edk@homesickblues.com