Biography of Director
Steven Montgomery left the suburbs of Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1974, with the kind support of his parents, Mary and David Montgomery -- to study film production at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He attended classes with professors Charles Milne and George Stoney. With classmate Stephen Sinsheimer, Montgomery made the short black and white film The Bluebird of Happiness, featuring Holly Woodlawn and Desmond Child. It was presented in Central Park at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's "Movies in the Parks."
Upon graduation, Montgomery found a job as a production assistant to Milos Forman and Twyla Tharp on the movie musical Hair (1979). Like the lyrics from Hair, "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius," this year-long shoot marked the career beginnings for Montgomery and fellow P.A.'s David Dreyfuss (DGA Trainee), Anne Gyory, Shawn Hausman, Michael Peyser, and Barry Strugatz, who have since contributed in various capacities to numerous motion pictures.
In 1980, Montgomery returned to Indiana, along with editor Barbara Wolver ($10 Horse and a $40 Saddle) and cinematographer Tony Cucchiari (Managua), to direct the documentary film Hobie's Heroes (www.hobiesheroes.com) , an inspirational portrait of American Olympic diving coach Hobie Billingsley. The film concludes with Billingsley's challenge to us regarding life's perennial struggles: "Can you fight until you take your last breath?" It won a host of awards and was televised on PBS, USA Network and Nickelodeon -- and was presented at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1981.
From 1981 to 1987, Montgomery worked as a production staff member for the prolific producer Michael Hausman (Filmhaus) on such films as Ragtime, Places in the Heart, No Mercy, Heartland, Flight of the Spruce Goose, and Things Change as well as for location manager Jerry Jaffe on the films Paternity, Nighthawks, and Willie and Phil.
From 1983 to 1990, Montgomery produced short films for his own company, Triad Productions. During this time, he studied Aesthetic Realism, a philosophy concerning the nature of reality, showing how it can be known deeply and accurately, as a means of liking oneself. Aesthetic Realism was founded in 1941 by Eli Siegel, the American literary critic for Scribners (1931-35) and poet (Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems, 1957). In classes, Montgomery studied painting, literature and drama and had the breath-taking experience of learning, techncially, how a work of art explains the deepest questions of a person's life. The faculty included animator Ken Kimmelman and noted actress Anne Fielding.
Montgomery discovered new areas of his city through working for the City of New York: Parks & Recreation (1988 - 1990) with producer Christopher C. Johnson, producing documentaries about New York City's parks. Ballroom dancing at Bethesda Fountain, bicycle safety in Prospect Park, gorgeous gardens in the Bronx, and historic houses in all five boroughs were subjects of their productions, presented at Manhattan's Downtown Community Television, the Queens Museum, and on local public television.
In the early 90's, Montgomery traveled to North Africa where he discovered the storytellers, musicians, acrobats, and snake charmers of Marrakech's historic public square. They became the subjects of his award-winning documentary "Morocco: The Past and Present of Djemma el Fna" (1995), featuring music by composer/singer, Hassan Hakmoun. Moroccan scholar Hamid Triki provided historical background and Montgomery interviewed snake charmer Blaid Farrouss and his family in their Marrakech home for the documentary. This unique film has found an audience with both scholars and children (Middle East Studies Association FilmFest and Chicago International Children's Film Festival) -- and has been distributed by Sue Oscar and Linda Gottesman's company Filmakers Library to universities and public libraries throughout the United States and Morocco.
In 1995, Montgomery was elected president of the New York Film/Video Council, during which time the Council celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary in a gala program at the Museum of Modern Art (6/20/96). This historic evening was organized by Council Board Members William Sloan, Clare Gartrell Davis, Diana Devlin and included a presentation of films and videos honoring the five decades of the Council. Robert Spencer and David Callahan published a souvenir program for the event which is a history of New York's non-theatrical film and video community (1946-1996).
Recently, Montgomery has become a writer and has authored the following articles: "Librarians Guide Director Down New Road to Morocco", American Libraries, 2/96, about film librarians Lousie Spain, David Callahan and Marie Nesthus; "Heart of Morocco: Place Djemma el Fna", RAM Magazine, (France, Morocco) 4/96, about filming in Morocco; "Interview with Joe Berlinger" (cover story), Release Print magazine 11/96; "First Sierra Club Film Festival," (cover story), International Documentary, 9/97 and "First UrbanWorld Festival," International Documentary, 11/97. In addition, he has written two anecdotes about life in Manhattan (far from Indiana!) published in the New York Times, Metropolitan Diary, 1/97 (illustrated) and 2/98.
Montgomery has completed preliminary work on a documentary (with associate producer Therese Orkin Gruenstein) about the peaceful coexistence between Moroccan Muslims and Jews, to be entitled, "Ancient Cousins: Muslims and Jews in Morocco".