Volume X, Issue 1 | February 13, 2024

Stage, Screen and SMC

Director, producer and author Stephen Soucy helps Santa Monica College students raise the curtain on their careers and entrepreneurism with his online business communication course. With a wide-ranging career, Stephen is “making it everywhere.”

SMC In Focus


When students at Santa Monica College log onto the business communication classes taught by Stephen Soucy, they’re learning from an expert whose career spans publishing, filmmaking and theatrical producing. After earning his master’s in screenwriting at USC and making a few forays into the entertainment industry, he took a job at what is now the academic publisher Pearson. From there, his journey at SMC began. 

“A few of our authors were in SMC’s Business Program,” Stephen recalls. “And the department chair asked if I’d like to teach a section of the business communications course.” 

He has taught that class, Business 32, for 20 years and counting, mentoring students in the skills needed to get their messages across for success in the fast-paced world of commerce. Topics covered span everything from writing effective résumés and reports to crafting business plans for investors.  

“I expose them to a lot of things they’ll use in their careers,” Stephen says. 

One of his students wrote to him saying: “The way you teach business communication really prepares students for the corporate world. This class is one of a kind, and what makes it so special is all of the hands-on learning. It builds confidence.” 

“The way Professor Soucy teaches business communication really prepares students for the corporate world,” student Rob Ross says. “This class is one of a kind, and what makes it so special is all of the hands-on learning. It builds confidence.”

Modernist Take on Merchant Ivory 

Stephen also draws from his own experiences for his classes. “Every so often I’ll throw out an example from business in the film or theatrical world,” he notes, adding that such stories generate enthusiastic interest from his students. 

Stephen’s extensive background includes heading the company Modernist Film, through which he produced, directed and co-wrote the documentary Merchant Ivory. The film chronicles the longtime partnership of producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory, whose award-winning movies — including Howard’s End and The Remains of the Day — turned sophisticated literature into compelling cinema.  

The documentary production was a daunting process of conducting nearly 60 interviews and clearing the rights to film clips, archival footage and music. But all that work paid off, as the film features interviews with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Helena Bonham Carter, Vanessa Redgrave and other notable talents who worked on Merchant Ivory films. Above all, though, for Stephen, the project was a labor of love.  

“I was always drawn to film,” he says. While growing up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Stephen recalls “watching films over and over and over again in the early days of HBO. And, at an early age, I started to understand that they were like puzzles put together in ways to affect an audience.” 

Two movies with an especially profound effect on Stephen as he came of age were Merchant Ivory’s A Room with a View and Maurice. He became a dedicated fan of their filmography, and their works helped inspire his own career. Years later, having become friends with novelist Peter Cameron, whose novel The City of Your Final Destination became the famed filmmaking partnership’s last film, Stephen got to know James Ivory himself. 

Merchant Ivory premiered to applause at DOC NYC, the nation’s largest documentary festival, and was screened at the 2024 Palm Springs International Film Festival. In addition, it has earned critical acclaim from publications including The Hollywood Reporter. 

Leveraging his combination of artistic talent and business acumen, Stephen made a worldwide distribution deal for the film with Cohen Media Group. He had cultivated a relationship with the company while making the documentary. Since it owns the rights to many Merchant Ivory films, “I had to work with them on permissions,” he explains. 

Stephen’s upcoming cinematic endeavors include raising financing to direct his feature-length screenplay Orientation,” a coming-of-age story set during the AIDS crisis. “I definitely have a few projects in the mix,” he says. 

From Movie to Musical With Romy and Michele 

As if he is not busy enough, Stephen also produces live theater, helping shepherd plays and musicals to Broadway and London’s West End. “I got involved in theater by serving on the board of the Celebration Theater in Los Angeles,” he recalls. His work with Celebration, one of the nation’s oldest theaters devoted to LGBTQ+ plays and musicals, includes co-producing an Ovation Award-winning version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Meanwhile, he invested in a Tony-winning revival of The Boys in the Band and the stage adaptation of Life of Pi. 

Recently, Stephen traveled to London as co-lead producer for a musical take on the 1997 movie Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. With a book by Robin Schiff, who also wrote the film, and direction by Tony winner Kristin Hanggi, the musical is on a long odyssey to Broadway that began with a production in Seattle in 2017. London is Romy and Michele’s latest step in that journey, as the show continues being refined to reach its potential. 

Barry Kemp, the movie’s executive producer, and whose TV shows include Newhart and Coach, has become a mentor of mine over the past several years,” Stephen says. Barry asked Stephen to come on board and, since then, “it’s been the two of us driving this,” Stephen adds. 

Romy and Michele was workshopped in London in January as part of MTFestUK, an annual festival dedicated to developing new musicals. “It’s step one for us — just doing the presentations and seeing what doors open for us,” Stephen says. “It’s my hope that we’ll find partners to help secure a theater for a full run.”  

He also thinks the process may generate new material for his SMC classes. 

Benefits Back to the Classroom 

To maximize the effectiveness of the course’s online format, Stephen also created video presentations to support the textbook used. These videos are now used by business communication instructors across the nation. 

Meanwhile, to ensure that the course’s knowledge stays up to date with evolving trends, Stephen keeps on the lookout for the latest case studies. His students play an integral part in the process as well. “I’m always asking my students to bring in real-world examples,” he says.  

The course’s popularity has also led Stephen to broaden his teaching to include a course on international business communication, preparing students for cultural differences in the global marketplace. 

As Stephen continues mentoring SMC students, his diverse success paraphrases a lyric from the song New York, New York about being able to “make it anywhere.” With a career encompassing the arts, business and education — and crossing the Atlantic Ocean — he’s making it everywhere. 

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