In Session: Stephen Soucy
SARATOGA SPRINGS – When people find their passion in life, they will often travel in pursuit of it. As they learn the tools of their trade, some decide to stay relocated, while others yearn to come back home. For Stephen Soucy, a local filmmaker and producer, this was the case when he moved to Los Angeles for filmmaking and producing theater. Now, he’s back to his native Saratoga Springs, with a full slate of projects nearing the finish line. Wanting to highlight our area of upstate NY in his future endeavors, Soucy is just getting started.
We had a chance to connect for a conversation this past week. What follows is our discussion.
Lucas Garrett: Thank you, Stephen, for sitting down and taking the time to go over what you do.
Stephen Soucy: Of course!
LG: How’re you doing today?
SS: I’m doing fine! Thanks for taking the time to show interest with some of the things I’ve got going on.
LG: Tell us a bit about yourself.
SS: I’m from this area originally but I lived in Los Angeles for the last twenty-six or twenty-seven years. I was out there, and then about a year-and-a-half ago, I decided to come back home to be closer to my family. I work in film and I work in theater, so I do have the need to be in L.A. sometimes, but I’m now based in Saratoga Springs; that’s my anchor.
LG: Film and theater are related, but from what I understand, they are wildly different.
LG: How do they interface with one another? Does any of the film work cross over into theater, and vice versa? Is that a nice duality for you?
SS: The film and theater duality?
SS: Yes. In theater, I’m a producer, and sometimes I’m an investor – I’ll invest in projects as well. The big project I’m working on right now, and that I’ve been working on for the last six or seven years, is a project we hope to launch on Broadway next year. It’s based on a film called Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. That was a film out in the 1990’s and it starred Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino. I’m one of the managing producers on that show.
Romy and Michele: The Musical had its premiere at Seattle at the 5th Avenue Theatre a couple of years ago. We’ve been doing workshops: we’ve been further developing, further honing, and getting the musical as good as it can be before we make a launch in New York City. The last workshop we did for Romy and Michele was in New York City was in October, 2021. We had a new cast and we put it up in a space called New 42 Theater – a popular space.
What you do is work, re-work the musical and then you have three presentations for the theater owners, and potential producers. We did that process and at the end of it, we feel the musical – the book, the lyrics, all of that – is 97 to 98% there after six or seven years. We hope to secure a Broadway theater for that at some point in 2023. It feels like fall of 2023 could be a good time for that to happen; it’s a very competitive industry, but that’s our plan. Our first choice.
LG: Nice. What you’re talking about with a six or seven year process is wildly different than what I’m used to as a musician.
SS: Yeah! I was going to say, I’ve also done it the opposite way. When I was in Los Angeles, I was a producer and had a small blackbox theater, called the Celebration Theatre. We ran four musicals or shows a year. So, it was the opposite of what I just described with Romy and Michele, in that when we put up Priscilla: Queen of the Desert in this theater in Los Angeles, we had to run! We had our start date; we were selling tickets; we put this show up, it lasted a couple months and then we moved on to the next one. I’ve done it both ways. Romy and Michele is a definitely long project – a long development project. I’ve also produced things that were up for eight, ten, or twelve weeks.
LG: Do you like running or walking?
SS: I like running! But unfortunately, most of the things I’m working on – I can tell you a bit about my film project as well – aren’t running. The project dictates how long it’s going to take, or where it is in the development process dictates. The film project I’m working on right now is my first feature documentary film, called Merchant Ivory. Merchant Ivory were filmmakers that made films in the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, and early 2000’s. James Ivory was the director of those films. James Ivory is the oldest person to win an Academy Award. He won it a couple years ago for the “Best Screenplay Adaptation,” for the film Call Me By Your Name.
This feature documentary film that’s in postproduction now, I’ve worked on for four or five years. This is another example of a project – a passion project – that’s taken a lot of time, and a lot of effort. Making a documentary film, it just takes as long as it takes. I’m almost there, and in postproduction, now.
LG: You talk about four-to-five years, and six or seven years. We’re both creatives, but in different areas of creativity. If I had to work on something for four or five years, I don’t know if I’d have that same amount of passion after all that time. How do you manage to keep that fire alive for that long?
SS: That’s a great question. I will say at this point it is exhausting, and sometimes you do lose that fire. But you can’t… if you want to get over the finish line – and, the thing I’ve learned in my creative life – it’s all about finishing what you started. Do I wish it wasn’t four years to make my first feature documentary film? Sure. But the project, and the budget, and the way I gathered the budget, how I moved through the process of making the film… it just required that amount of time.
You make a really good point. Sometimes, like you said, you need to “keep that fire alive.” I believed the story needed to be told, and I still believe that. That’s what’s driving me. I want this story out in the world, and I’m not going to stop until it’s there. That drive. That’s how I stay motivated.
LG: Who are some of your favorite filmmakers?
SS: Definitely James Ivory of Merchant Ivory. My favorite films from them are: Remains of the Day, which starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson; A Room With a View, which starred Helena Bonham Carter…
LG: That was a great book.
SS: Yeah. That was their first big film that really launched them after many, many years of them making films. I love Wes Anderson. I love quirky filmmakers like he is. But then, I also love some of the classic filmmakers, too, like Francis Ford Coppola. Another person I love is Pedro Almodóvar from Spain.
LG: I don’t recognize that name.
SS: He’s been making films ever since the early 1980’s. His films have been nominated for “Best Foreign Film.”
LG: How did you get into producing and filmmaking?
SS: I just had ideas! So, I started to write short screenplays a number of years ago, and I felt like I could make those films. I took classes in Los Angeles that taught me filmmaking. Then, I made my first short film, then my next short film, and then two short documentary films. Then, I wrote screenplays. I just learned by doing; I took some classes and that gave me an educational anchor. But I started writing short films and screenplays, first, and then I made them. It took me years, but I’m at the point where I’m finishing my first feature length documentary, now. I said earlier, but when you start something, finish it. Then, go to the next thing and the next thing.
That’s how I’ve been building my career. The same thing on the theater producing side: I was producing at a small scale at Celebration Theatre in L.A., and then I decided to tackle a Broadway musical. With small steps, I kept going up and up. I’m ready for bigger success because I’ve been working on it for a long time.
LG: Is there anything you’d like to talk about that I may have missed?
SS: One of the cool things about me coming back to New York after living in L.A. for so long is now I’m starting and filming projects that will be based in upstate New York. Next year, I’m going to shoot my first film in Saratoga Springs, called Reggie Rose. Reggie Rose is the name of my main character in this short film. I want to shoot this first short film to get the lay of the land of filming landscape in upstate New York. After that, I want to shoot a feature film that is based here.
This is home; then, I went to L.A.; now, I’m home. I’m going to make projects that are based in upstate New York and I’m excited about that. There are stories to be told that are based here. I want to set stories that are based here, that I can shoot here. That’s something that makes me unique, I think.
LG: Thank you, Stephen, again!
SS: You’re welcome! Nice to meet you, Lucas!
LG: Nice to meet you, too! I’ll be in touch!