Remembering Bob Stephens

by Doug Stewart
When Cary Grant received his Honorary Oscar in 1970 for his screen achievements, he made a statement about filmmaking that is still true today. “Ours is a collaborative medium,” he said. “We all need each other.” When I made Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future, I needed a lot of help to do it, but that wouldn’t be the end of it. It’s one thing to make a film, it’s quite another to get it in front of an audience. This past year, I received some wonderful assistance from a gentleman named Bob Stephens in San Francisco. He was introduced to me by our Co-Producer, Melvin Schuetz.
As a journalist for the San Francisco Examiner, Bob had a long-time love affair with the movies and was familiar not only with science fiction films but with Chesley Bonestell as well. He was anxious to see my film, and when he did, he began to spread the word in the Bay Area to help make it available for the public to see. By the time the smoke cleared, he was responsible for introducing me to his friend Elliot Lavine, whose theatrical exhibition expertise brought about several screenings of the film at San Francisco’s iconic Roxie Theater.
San Francisco Journalist G. Allen Johnson, Bob Stephens and Doug Stewart

This would be the film’s “World Theatrical Premiere” and it was ushered in with a full-page review in the San Francisco Chronicle by another of Bob’s friends, G. Allen Johnson. Just before the first screening, Bob had made it a top priority for Allen to see the film. To read the review, click here.

All this meant so much to me because Chesley was from San Francisco, and that city plays such an important part in his life. How appropriate for the film to have its first public theatrical debut there. As a filmmaker, I can tell you it really doesn’t get any better than all the things that Bob helped make happen!

Bob Stephens and Doug Stewart

Sadly, Bob passed away on December 28. I had called him just a few days before Christmas but could only leave a message on his answering machine, one of the few electronic devices in his life. Bob never really embraced computers, so I would print him out copies of our film’s electronic newsletter and mail them to him. It was the one way I knew I could thank him for his tireless support of my film. Yes, Cary Grant was right. We do need each other and Bob made a huge difference in the journey of Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future to the big screen. We will be screening the film again next month in San Francisco (see below), and I will always be grateful to Bob for the magic he created there!

To read a tribute to Bob Stephens by G. Allen Johnson, click here.

UPCOMING SCREENINGS

San Francisco Public Library
Feb. 12, 2020
5:15 PM
San Francisco Public Main Library
100 Larkin St.

San Francisco, CA 94102
Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future will screen at San Francisco's Public Main Library on February 12th, 2020. The screening will be part of their McComas Science Fiction Exhibit Series, which runs from February to April of 2020. There will also be a Q&A after the screening. This event is free and open to the public. More details will be made available on our website at a later date.
Please visit our website for the latest in news and screenings!
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Copyright © 2020 Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future, All rights reserved.


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