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May Come, Somewhere in Time, and the groundbreaking Conversations with God. He also co-founded The Spiritual Cinema Circle in 2004 with relation- ship experts Gay and Kathlyn Hen- dricks. As a subscription-based monthly DVD community, Spiritual Cinema Circle offers viewers a continuous array of upbeat and inspirational films that help us feel better about being human.


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Why did you decide to produce spiritual films?


I’ve always loved films like It’s a Won- derful Life, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, that have a spiritual content to them, even though Hollywood refers to them as fantasy films. My dad was a big comedy direc- tor in the 1930s and 40s, and I always knew spiritual movies were the kinds of films I wanted to make. When I was about 30 years old,


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I read this extraordinary book called Bid Time Return, by Richard Matheson, which I went on to produce as my first film, called Somewhere in Time. What Dreams May Come was also based on a Matheson novel. Later, when I read the Conversations with God books by Neale Donald Walsch and we became good friends, I just knew the story of his life would lend itself to film.


Producer Stephen Simon by ellen mahoney


mong Stephen Simon’s many ac- claimed films are the Academy Award-winning What Dreams


What is the difference between a spiritual and a religious film?


Mainstream media uses the words spiritual and religious as synonymous terms, but they are not. A religious film would be like The Passion of the Christ or The Ten Commandments, whereas a spiritual film would be like Whale Rider or What Dreams May Come. I believe spirituality is a personal


and private experience, where you have your own relationship with whatever you might call the Divine. You might call this God, but you also might call this spirit, life, the universe or nature. You can be a spiritual person but not be religious, yet I firmly believe that spiri- tual and religious people have much more in common than they differ.


Has mainstream America been receptive to this spiri- tual movement?


I don’t believe in the word mainstream. To me, it means that entertainment has lost all of its individuality. When you try to attract everybody, you have to be concerned with not offending anybody, and that is not what art and filmmaking is about.


Spiritual filmmaking is definitely a niche. We have subscribers in nearly


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