Ian Thiermann, founder of The Video Project, passed away April 28 in Ben Lomond at 98 years old. He was an amazing, energetic, positive force for good who had an unbridled, enthusiastic love for music, nature, and the arts.

“Retired” from running a tree care business, Ian made his first film,The Last Epidemic, in 1982 with his son Eric, who runs Impact Creative. It was a simply done film based on the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) conference organized in the Bay Area, featuring retired military leaders, scientists, and doctors, and became a central tool of the Nuclear Freeze Campaign. Shown thousands of times in the early Reagan years, it awakened people to the danger of nuclear war and mobilized them into action.

Ian continued to promote a growing collection of films on war and peace, including several co-produced with Vivienne Verdon-Roe: In the Nuclear Shadow: What Can the Children Tell Us?, which was nominated for an Oscar in 1984, and Women for America, for the World, which won an Oscar for documentary short in 1987.

Ian also produced a film which was critical of Reagan’s Star Wars plan and an early film on the importance of teaching critical thinking in schools, which he believed was essential to help move us to a better world. Many other filmmakers saw the success he was having and asked that he consider distributing their films, and thus the catalog of films and subject areas grew from nuclear issues to environmental sustainability and more.

In (actual) retirement, Ian and Terry were unfortunate victims of Bernie Madoff and lost all their savings in 2009. Ian went back to work at the age of 90 as a greeter at their local grocery store, which you can watch below.

We feel so fortunate to have worked with Ian, who introduced us to the world of film as a powerful tool for social change. We are proud to continue that legacy.

He’s survived by his wife Terry, who also played a central role in the company, as well as his four children, five grandchildren -- his grandson Kyle Thiermann was a Brower Youth Award Winner in 2011 for his environmental work --, and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in July.