More than thirty years ago, a friend of Janus Films—the producer of I Was a Teenage Zombie—who knew of my interest in space exploration called me to say he had seen excerpts of a really cool film at DuArt, a lab in New York. The writer, director, and producer needed some finishing money, and so I called. He sent me a ¾” tape of For All Mankind, and I have never forgotten the first time I saw it. That’s how my long friendship with Al Reinert started.
Al finished For All Mankind, a documentary about the twenty-four men who went to the moon, with a little help from us and generously gave me an associate producer credit. In 1989, it went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary and won prizes at Sundance. Al had met and befriended all the moonwalkers for his film. When we worked on the laserdisc and subsequent DVD and Blu-ray releases, I was lucky enough to sit down with him and interview and enjoy lunch with Alan Bean and Gene Cernan, both of whom participated in those releases. It was one of the thrills of my life.
More than just a filmmaker, Al was a great person, always rooting for all friends. Anytime I would pass along positive news about anything—work, family, or life in general—Al would come back with a resounding “good for you.” You always felt better after talking to Al.
More than being just the inscription on the Apollo 11 lunar module plaque and the name of his movie, the phrase For All Mankind described how he viewed humans’ exploration of space. His last project, the unfinished Above It All, is a beautiful movie about the International Space Station with interviews with astronauts from more than thirty-five countries.
Al, you brought out the best in all of us—good for you.
Take a look at a clip from Above It All, which features a rendition of a certain interstellar Bowie classic:
And here’s an excerpt from a making-of documentary on our edition of For All Mankind, in which Reinert explains the origins of the project: