Film Producer and SCC Co-founder Stephen Simon's Inspiring Story
Born into a successful Hollywood family, Stephen Simon grew up during the big studio heyday of the late forties and fifties.
His father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a sought-after producer/director who made films with the likes of Abbott and Costello and Red Skelton. He also produced the original version of BORN YESTERDAY. Every year on March 9, the anniversary of his birth, American Movie Classics devotes a day to showing his films. He was also a studio executive at Columbia Pictures under the legendary Harry Cohn. Stephen's father died when he was only four years old. His mother remarried Armand Deutsch who was also a film producer at MGM where he produced films with stars such as Robert Taylor and Grace Kelly. His mother's closest friends were Nancy Reagan, Betsy Bloomingdale, and Fran Stark, the daughter of Fanny Brice and wife of legendary film producer Ray Stark. It was no surprise to anyone that when Stephen graduated from law school, he soon found himself drawn to the movie business Ray Stark's protege.
Mentored by Hollywood greats such as Stark (producer of STEEL MAGNOLIAS, THE GOODBYE GIRL, FUNNY GIRL) and Dino De Laurentiis (producer of over 150 motion pictures, including RED DRAGON, HANNIBAL, KING KONG), Stephen Simon became a highly regarded and well respected veteran producer and executive in his own right with over 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry, producing or being responsible for the production of over 20 motion pictures.
He has produced acclaimed projects such as the Academy Award Winning WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr.) , the classic SOMEWHERE IN TIME (Starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour), ALL THE RIGHT MOVES (Starring Tom Cruise) and was an executive producer on fan favorite BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (starring Keanu Reeves).
An amazing career, yes? Depends on who you ask. While his resume reads like a dream career to some, Stephen will be the first to tell you that most of his Hollywood years were spent in frustration at not being able to make the spiritual films he so loved as a child and young man. Films such as IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, LOST HORIZONS, THE PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, and THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR. Ultimately, Stephen became so disillusioned with his inability to make story-based, spiritual films in Hollywood that he not only left the mainstream industry, he moved out of California altogether in 2001. Having relocated to Ashland, Oregon he finished THE FORCE IS WITH YOU: Mystical Movie Messages That Inspire our Lives, his seminal book on the genre he coined as "Spiritual Cinema." He spent much of 2002 traveling the country on a speaking tour to support the book and to rally film lovers to help establish Spiritual Cinema as a genre.
In 2003, Stephen made his directorial debut, INDIGO, (starring Neale Donald Walsch) which was produced entirely in the State of Oregon with a $500,000 budget. INDIGO has since become a grassroots phenomenon with its one weekend worldwide release in January, 2005 grossing over $1.3 million. INDIGO is currently being widely distributed on DVD by Monterrey Media.
In 2004, Mr. Simon co-founded The Spiritual Cinema Circle with Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. The Circle, a monthly DVD subscription service that distributes 4 spiritually-themed films a month, became an immediate international success story and now has subscribers in more than 70 countries.
By late 2004, The Circle had become successful enough to venture into original film production so it acquired the rights from Neale Donald Walsch to make CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD into a movie. Directing and producing CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD was the culmination of a dream for Stephen who had wanted to make a film version of CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD since he first read the material in the late-90's, but couldn't find a financier to make a deal with Walsch for the rights. "My career has been marked mostly by my passion for three projects," he says. "It took me 3 years to get SOMEWHERE IN TIME produced, almost 20 years to get WHAT DREAMS MAY COME made, and now almost 8 years to get CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD to the screen."
Stephen lives near Portland, Oregon, with his wife Lauren, two of their six children, two cats, and their labrador Lola.