Photos provided by Stephen Soucy
Stephen Soucy thought his short film on Richard Robbins, the composer who worked on all 44 Merchant Ivory productions’ films, would be the extent of his involvement with the famous film production studio. Now, thanks to his relationship with James Ivory, he is now working on his first feature film.
Founded in 1961 by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, who bought a home and have lived in Claverack since 1979, Merchant Ivory Productions has produced 55 British films. The term Merchant Ivory Production has become synonymous with decidedly British period pieces set in the 20th century.
Soucy wanted to highlight the moving scores of their films that include “Howard’s End” and “The Remains of the Day.” Ivory narrates the animated 5-minute-short called “Rich Atmosphere: The Music in Merchant Ivory Films.”
Soucy, a University at Albany graduate who produces theatre and works in film in Los Angeles, realized he’d really only scraped the surface and that the relationship between Merchant and Ivory was more than worth a full film.
“The film explores the 50-year professional and personal partnership Jim Ivory and Ismail Merchant shared, and explores their relationship with key, long-term collaborators on Merchant Ivory films. There will be a deep dive on the team’s most successful films: ‘A Room with a View,’ ‘Maurice,’ ‘Howards End’ and ‘The Remains of the Day,’” Soucy told The Collaborative.
In 2018, Ivory won his first Oscar for Adapted Script following four previous nominations for his work on the film “Call Me By Your Name.” During his acceptance speech, the then 89-year-old cited his professional and private relationship with Merchant, who passed away in 2005, for leading him to the award. The film, starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, tells the story of two young men who fall in love in Italy.
Ivory has remained a vital and active presence in the Hudson Valley independent film scene.
Soucy was in town to interview Ivory at his Claverack home in early June. He expects to return for further interviews this summer. “I’m super excited to be partnering and collaborating with James Ivory on this, my first feature-length film project,” Soucy says.