Friday Flashback: Rest in Peace, Joel Schumacher

We join the film community in mourning the loss of legendary director Joel Schumacher, who passed away today at the age of 80. Former HamptonsFilm Advisory Board Chair Jeffrey Sharp shares his fond remembrances.


It seemed fitting to honor director Joel Schumacher as part of the 2014 Hamptons International Film Festival. The Hamptons had long been Joel’s home away from home. From his wild and crazy days as a young designer when he purportedly lived with pals behind a used car lot near the Cozy Cottages in East Hampton to Southampton where he stayed with beloved friends and family behind the lush hedgerows, this was always his favorite place to enjoy time in between his film productions.

I first met Joel in 1986 at a lunch hosted by Peter Brown on East Hampton’s Main Beach when I was a twenty-one-year-old aspiring movie producer from Ohio. Once I got up the guts to introduce myself and tell him about my dreams, Joel proceeded to tell me all about his early life and career, sharing that if he could make it as a filmmaker, so could anyone, even me.

Joel’s friendship encouraged me to avidly pursue my producing career as he did many, many people in their careers over the years. Joel was extraordinarily generous with his friendships in much the way that he could never pass a busker in the streets of New York or London without emptying his pockets into their hats. In fact, you couldn’t walk down the street with Joel anywhere in the world and not be swarmed by fans and admirers who were touched by him and his many films.

While we reflect today upon Joel’s work as a gifted artist and director, we celebrate his life and remember him as a dear mentor and friend. You were never a stranger for long in Joel’s company and his light always shone brightest around young people. May we all try to be as generous as Joel and take time to share our stories, our successes, and our vulnerabilities along the way… and when we can, be sure to mentor someone at the start of their journey as well.

There’s some big old moon shining down.
Reminds you what this world is all about…
Don’t it strike you what it means?
How each of us is a bit of everything.
—from Tigerland (2000)

Jeff Sharp
Chair, Hamptons Int’l Film Festival Advisory Board (2005-2019)

In 2014, the Hamptons International Film Festival celebrated Joel Schumacher with the Lifetime Achievement in Directing Award, presented by then-HamptonsFilm Advisory Board Chair Jeffrey Sharp.

Renowned for his versatility, style and ability to move seamlessly between film genres with equal popular success and critical acclaim, Schumacher also took part in our A Conversation With series, hosted by Jess Cagle—former editor-in-chief of People, which sponsored the conversationwith surprise special guest and frequent collaborator Kiefer Sutherland.

Known for such iconic fare as ST. ELMO’S FIRE, THE LOST BOYS, COUSINS, FLATLINERS, DYING YOUNG, FALLING DOWN, THE CLIENT, and A TIME TO KILL, Schumacher also directed two installments of the Batman film franchise (BATMAN FOREVER and BATMAN & ROBIN).

As his career entered the 21st century, Schumacher brought audiences the films 8MM, FLAWLESS, TIGERLAND, PHONE BOOTH, BAD COMPANY, VERONICA GUERIN, THE NUMBER 23, TRESSPASS, and his 2004 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

We invite you to enjoy one of his iconic films in memory of his life and work.

Please enjoy this conversation, and join us next week for another Friday Flashback movie + conversation.