It is hard to find the words to describe Stewart Stern. I met him in 2000 when I was 19 years old working as Barbara Morgan’s assistant at the Austin Film Festival. We brought Stewart into Austin for a screening of Rebel Without a Cause. Over dinner he captivated the attention of all of the festival staff with his stories of volunteering at the Seattle Zoo working with the gorillas. The perfectly articulated story went on uninterrupted for 45 minutes and was filled with arcs, suspense, and love – storytelling was in his bones. I spoke to Stewart about my ambitions of becoming a writer and director and told him all about the first short film I was about to shoot, Daydream. To my surprise, he was genuinely interested. The next morning when I met Stewart he handed me an in-room dining menu from the Driskill Hotel. On the back he had written out all of the plays and books I should read if I wanted to take acting, directing and writing seriously. I was absolutely blown away by the thought and generosity he put into curating a road-map for me. Over the last 15 years Stewart became my mentor, offering me guidance and support on all of my creative endeavors. More importantly, he became my best friend and helped me navigate the difficult terrain of becoming a man. I am happy to know many young filmmakers who also consider Stewart their best friend. Stewart’s unbounded generosity and spirit will live on through all of the lives he touched.
– Ryan Piers Williams
The Dry Land, X/Y (Writer, Director)
Stewart had a spell about him. He taught his last ten years at The Film School, giving Film School students a sense of self worth and ownership in themselves and the stories they carry. From his youth, Stewart maintained that he was Peter Pan sprinkling the dust of a better life for all….When you were touched by Stewart Stern, you remain touched for life….
-Tom Skerritt, co-founder of The Film School, actor (Alien, Top Gun, and Picket Fences)