Morningside Entertainment is a 21st century corporation that arises from a long family lineage of filmmakers and studio executives within the motion picture industry. Most notably, dating back to Abraham (Abe) Schneider, the former President of Columbia Pictures, who started as a bookkeeper for C.B.C. Film Sales (which represented the surname initial for the company’s three founders: Harvey Cohn, Joe Brandt & Jack Cohn) and who later became the company’s bookkeeper when it changed its name to Columbia Pictures Corporation in 1924. Over the years, Abe Schneider was, as one spokesperson put it, the heart and soul of Columbia Pictures. By 1932, Schneider was treasurer of the company and became a director. In 1943, he added VP to his title and, in 1956, was promoted to first VP and treasurer. After the death of Jack Cohn later that year, Schneider was also designated chief fiscal officer, a position he held until after the death of company president Harry Cohn, on Feb. 27, 1958. Less than two weeks later, Schneider was named company president and, as Daily Variety reported at the time, he became part of a special committee made up of five board members who would "report their recommendations for production and administrative heads to the full board for final action." In September 1959, Schneider also assumed duties as President of Screen Gems, the company's television film subsidiary. Schneider became Columbia chairman and chief executive officer in 1968, and remained on the Board of Directors till 1975. During this time, Schneider’s knowledge and astute understanding of the motion picture industry helped take a relatively small and new film sales company and turn it into one of the most well respected and prominent motion picture studios of the day with such classic films under his leadership such as “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957), “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), “Oliver” (1968) and “Easy Rider” (1969). Abe Schneider was married to Ida Schneider, and uncle to Shirely Sussman/Schneer and her husband Charles Schneer.
Starting in 1955 with one of the all time great sea creature films in cinematic history entitled “It Came From Beneath the Sea,” Charles Schneer and Ray Harryhausen grew synonymous with and generated some of the most enjoyable and celebrated science fiction and fantasy works to grace the silver screen. Although Harryhausen, as the stop-motion expert and special effects creator, received the lion's share of the credit and adulation from fans, Schneer was an all important creative partner to the team, in addition to overseeing the business end, and most of the general production duties. Schneer was born in Norfolk, VA, in 1920, although he spent much of his youth in Mount Vernon, NY. He attended Columbia University and served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographic Unit during World War II, during which he produced training films. He entered the movie industry by way of Columbia Pictures, and his earliest official credit there was as associate producer on the espionage thriller "The 49th Man" (1953), which was directed by Fred F. Sears (who later helmed "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers"), under the auspices of producer Sam Katzman.
A mutual friend in the motion picture industry introduced Charles and Ray in 1954, and since both of them had been involved with the making of training films for the armed forces they had that recent piece of personal history in common, and soon found that they thought along the same lines about potential film projects. Schneer took full producer's credit on the team’s first Columbia motion picture, “It Came From Beneath the Sea” (1955). Directed by Robert Gordon, it was an uncommonly well-made science fiction thriller, making careful and clever use of standing sets for its atomic submarine interior and even better use of stock footage and second-unit material; this only enhanced the special effects sequences, which were all the more challenging as they involved a multi-armed sea creature and sequences set in and around water (which is very difficult to animate). Schneer’s first film with Ray was a success, and was responsible for bringing in the newspaper articles that led to their next movie, "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" (1956), which carried stop-motion animation into a wholly new territory, again successfully. Schneer proved to be the opposite of most producers in the 1950s. He watched the bottom line, of course, but he was always encouraging Harryhausen to think of new directions for his work and to go beyond existing boundaries rather than limit work to the previously understood restrictions of imagination and budget. Harryhausen has also described him as an important contributor of ideas to their work.
By 1957, they'd ceased working under Katzman and set up Morningside Productions, through which both men would retain a measure of control of their work (and also a share of revenue, with Harryhausen credited as associate producer as well as special effects creator and designer). After one more science fiction movie, "20 Million Miles to Earth" (1957), they took the next step, into the realm of Arabian Nights fantasy -- a pet subject area of Harryhausen's since childhood -- and into color shooting, with "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" (1958). That was also the movie that brought Bernard Herrmann into the creative mix, resulting in the first of a string of four classic fantasy film scores composed for Harryhausen's movies. Harryhausen and Schneer decided with that film to abandon the simpler science fiction thrillers -- and what the animator has called monster-on-the-loose stories -- in favor of bolder, more creative, and fantastic stories involving mythology and works of imagination out of the literary past. The results included "The Three Worlds of Gulliver" (1960) (which led to a pilot episode for a proposed television series, produced by Schneer), "Mysterious Island" (1961), and "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963). Their creative sensibilities often led them into unexpected realms of fantasy filmmaking, as with "The First Men in the Moon" (1965), an adaptation of an H.G. Wells story that reconciled the author's decades-old fiction with the reality of the modern space program.
In between his work with Harryhausen, Schneer also found time to work on other movies, as post-production frequently took many months as the stop-motion work was devised and completed. The results, even there, were some pretty fine little dramatic films separate from Harryhausen: The World War II dramas "Hellcats of the Navy" (1956) (the only movie in which Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan ever starred together), "Tarawa Beachhead" (1958), and "The Battle of the Coral Sea" (1959) and the crime drama "The Case Against Brooklyn" (1958), the psychological western "Good Day for a Hanging" (1959), and the biographical film on Werner Von Braun, "I Aim at the Stars” (1960). Schneer moved to London in 1960 in the wake of the first two color films he produced. The British film industry had perfected a variation on blue-screen effects that enhanced stop-motion work and also made color filming uniquely practical. England remained his home for the next 45 years. During the 1960s, as the Harryhausen movies grew in budget and complexity, he fit fewer outside projects in around them, but still managed to produce the costume drama "Siege of the Saxons" (1963), the adventure yarn "East of Sudan" (1964), the swinging London comedy "You Must Be Joking!" (1965), and "Land Raiders" (1969). These pictures often involved directors, creative artists, and crew members who were associated with the Harryhausen movies, including director Nathan Juran (who did pictures with Schneer for well over a decade) and composer Laurie Johnson. As time went on and their brand of fantasy films became supplanted by more elaborate and slickly made science fiction (space fantasy works such as "Star Wars" and its successors), Schneer and Harryhausen found it harder to interest studios in their work. Their longtime working relationship culminated at Columbia Pictures with "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” (1977). Their next film, "Clash of the Titans” (1981), showed the willingness to extend beyond past studio loyalties and was proudly a MGM production. As the industry moved into the mid 1980’s, studios were more interested in financing computer-generated special effects, and Harryhausen's stop-motion work seemed both quaint and unnecessarily expensive (unless one saw a point to it, as millions evidently still did, based on video sales of their classic films).
Schneer retired shortly thereafter, although he kept an office in London well into the 1990s, and was still active with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences into the early 21st century and returned to the United States in 2005 until his passing a few years later. Ray Harryhausen is retired in London and shares his great works through the Harryhausen Foundation that exhibits his classic creatures at museums around the world. Charles Schneer passed away in 2009, and along with his beloved brother, Jack Schneer; who both serve as the inspiration and creative element behind their nephew/son, respectively, Barry A. Schneer.
By and through the dedication of the next generation of inspired filmmakers, Barry A. Schneer, JD/MBA and world renown action/drama producer, Steve Perry, have co-ventured their respective entities, Morningside Entertainment, Inc., and Masque Entertainment Group, LLC, and talents to further common business goals within the motion pictures industry. Over the years, the parties have held a highly valued friendship and business relationship, and have endeavoured on such goals as to develop a variety of film concepts, collaborate on studio designs, develop innovative production technologies, and structure film finance facilities. Inasmuch, Steve has more than 25 years of motion picture experience, and formerly served as an in‐house producer at Warner Bros Studios in Burbank, CA. He has served as Executive Producer, Producer, UPM, or 1st Assistant Director on over 40 feature films. Steve’s pictures have earned more than $2 billion in world‐wide box office revenues; he has twice been honored by the Directors Guild of America for outstanding achievement for the films "Rocky" (Sylvester Stallone) and "Ordinary People" (Robert Redford), which both won Academy Awards for Best Picture.
With some of the greatest action/drama films to his credit, Perry’s movie making talent has exploded off the silver screen with such global box office mega-hits as: "Rocky," "True Romance," "Speed 2," the "Lethal Weapon" series (1, 2, 3 & 4), "Die Hard 2," "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory," "Executive Decision," "Fire Fox," "Road House" and "The Last Boy Scout" among others. His longtime commitment and loyalty to the moving pictures art form makes him one of the most highly regarded and talented film makers in the business.
Presently, Barry A. Schneer serves on the Board of Directors of Morningside Entertainment, as well as the Director of Motion Pictures to Mercosur, the United Nations recognized, international trade union for several South, Central and North American countries in addition to two recently added European countries, Turkey and Israel. Schneer also serves as a fiscal consultant to several Wall Street capital firms regarding the viability and market analysis of selected film packages. Additionally, under the leadership of Barry A. Schneer the company has begun to reintroduce classic fantasy film genre projects to the marketplace. Through joint venture agreements with comic book developers and graphic novel publishers, as well as a seasoned creative team and newly acquired banking partners, Morningside Entertainment, seeks to continue in the same spirit and honor its acclaimed predecessors and entities, in providing the marketplace with family-oriented, epic fantasy/adventure films under new titles such as "Sinbad: Rogue of Mars," "Wrath of the Titans,” and "Jason and the Argonauts: the Kingdom of Haydes." Moreover, Morningside has expanded its operations to include global bank partners that have provided asset-backed finaning to support approved motion picture projects under the leadership of Schneer and Perry. In its commitment to the future, Morningside Entertainment promises to indelibly deliver world-class family oriented motion pictures that are certain to take you to the edge of your seat and welcome you to Experience the Fantastic.