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Meet Steven Barber of Vanilla Fire Productions in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steven Barber.

Steven, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I moved to LA in 1984 after graduation from Western Kentucky University. I started in Newport Beach and became a disc jockey for a dozen night clubs called the Red Onion. In the day time, I would pursue acting jobs, but I never had a huge passion for it, and I was never very successful. I really never understood the process and it just never grabbed me.

In 1986, I jumped my first cruise ship to Alaska, and it was game on. I worked on 19 cruise ships for 12 years, circumnavigating the world a few times, and hitting 78 countries. It was amazing, as during that time, cruise ships were much smaller, and it was nowhere as popular as it is today. There were no cameras. No cell phones and the rules did not really exist as they are in the 21st century. I ended up writing a book called, Below the Waterline, that sold very well on Amazon for the last 15 years.

I ended up back in LA in the late 90s and found my way to Santa Monica. I got into publishing and high end luxury sales, and one day, in late 1999, I took a mountain bike ride to the Santa Monica Mountains that would change the course of my life forever.

I would end up meeting the legendary actor Eddie Albert on the fortuitous ride and that moment would catapult me onto a journey that is still moving fast and furious today. Because of that meeting, I became an “accidental filmmaker” and started Vanilla Fire Productions. The company is in its 13th year, and we are just finished our 8th feature documentary, and number 9 just received funding.

Many of our films have hit the Oscar shortlist, and last summer for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, I was able to conceive, vision, commission and unveil the $750,000 gold and bronze monument of the crew of Apollo 11, Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin. This 1400 lb, twelve-foot monument is seen by 20,000 people a day at the Kennedy Space Center. Ironically, I would come up with this concept on the same mountain bike ride I had taken two decades earlier when I ran into Eddie Albert.

I just finished our 8th feature documentary, We Must Be Bold” Apollo 11, and I am now shooting the Apollo 13 documentary called, “Houston, We have a problem” the Jim Lovell Story. I have also raised another $750,000 to build the crew monument of Apollo 13 crew, and that monument will be heading to the Johnson Space Center and is scheduled to be unveiled in Dec of 2020.

Every project I have worked on has come to me in a very divine way. I have worked with Ed Harris, Josh Brolin, Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd and John Savage, just to name a few. I believe in my heart the Vanilla Fire Productions is the most noble film company in America.

The first film we shot in 2008, with Ed Harris, Return to Tarawa. was able to spur Congressional Legislation to locate, identify and repatriate US MARINES from WW 2 that never made it home. 88,000 MIAs some 75 years later. Vanilla Fire Productions was the catalyst for over 200 sets of US Marine remains to come back to American soil in the last ten years. We could not be more proud.

I am very fortunate to have surrounded myself with a brilliant team, and everything Vanilla Fire Productions has an accomplished in the last 13 years is a huge collaborative. More information can be found at www.vanillafire.com and www.military6pack.com.

Has it been a smooth road?
A smooth road it has not been…but “the road less traveled and the higher road” most certainly. Everything Vanilla Fire has accomplished was and is simply, UNDOABLE and yet, it all happened quite magically and divinely. A higher power guides us every moment.

The struggles are real, and normally money and funding are a recurring theme, and yet somehow, someway the films and the projects keeping happening on a grand scale…

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Vanilla Fire Productions story. Tell us more about the business.
The business Vanilla Fire Productions is telling high-level stories of over the top and great Americans! Our specialty is telling the stories of some of the greatest humans that have walked the earth, and getting their unknown stories known! Vanilla Fire is known for very high-level storytelling on many of our unknown military hero’s.

I am most proud of the Congressional Legislation that was passed to bring home some of the 88,000 MIAs from WW 2. www.returntotarawa.com is the reason 200 sets of US MARINE remains have come home so far, and new remains are found everyday.

Conceiving and building the Apollo 11 Monument, and unveiling it at the Kennedy Space Center, celebrating the greatest technological achievement of all time, was also pretty darn special.

I believe NOBILITY is our mantra and is what separates Vanilla Fire Productions from everyone else. We never, ever do a project to make money. We do it to “make a difference”.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The incredible speed of streaming and technology is staggering. Storytelling will always be storytelling, but to be able to see the future is way above my pay grade. There is a tremendous line in “No Country for Old Men” “You can’t see what’s coming”. I believe this 100%

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Image Credit:
Steven Barber Vanilla Fire Productions

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