EDITOR’S NOTE: Tansu Philip (BFA/Television and Broadcast Journalism ’16) has been doing a series of posts over on Buzzfeed profiling some of our talented students, and she was kind enough to share them with us. She will be profiling someone from each of Dodge College’s majors before the year is over, so keep an eye out for her posts.
I walk into Augie’s, a popular hangout in Redlands given the fact that coffee is sold and – well, it’s a place that isn’t someone’s house.
Which is usually good enough to be considered a “hot spot” in a place like the Inland Empire.
I’m looking for a Trevor Stevens, a guy I haven’t seen since I was an underclassman in high school, but who has since transferred into my college and has been the topic of many a conversation within the halls of Marion Knott Studios ever since.
We’re both students at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, the film school of Chapman University in Orange, CA. As much as we may love beautiful weather, incredible cuisine options, and a dangerously high quality of life, we’re still Redlands natives, which is why we’re meeting for the first time as our adult selves back in the town where it all began. Trevor has been on my radar ever since I overheard a conversation in class about a short film called
Glazed and Confused
shot in Redlands by a Dodge student. After some poking around, I made the connection that this was the same dude who ran track with me in high school, although he actually hurdled while I spent time standing around the track staring at the cross country boys.
I asked if he’d be willing to speak to me about how he came to be one of the larger forces to be reckoned with at Dodge, and he happily obliged.
I’m greeted immediately by a hug, although the last time I saw this guy I was 15 and forgettable. First impression? He may have some serious talent, but he hasn’t let it get to his head yet, and is more friendly than some (most) of his Dodge counterparts. We sit, and the questions are finally answered.
Name: Trevor Stevens
Age: 23 years old
Birthplace: Redlands, CA
Major: Film Production, Directing Emphasis
Past: Ballroom dancer as a child, taught by our small town celebrity hero of So You Think You Can Dance fame Benji Schwimmer. Also acted and modeled.
Mentor: Professor Roy Finch
He’s a well spoken individual, able to answer my questions easily without presenting a full on, mundane monologue about every intricacy of his life. He shares that he was a funny and outgoing kid from the get-go, who decided to try out acting one day and ended up doing so professionally on a number of TV shows and films. However, every time he visited a set, his primary interest was watching what the director was doing.
“I was fascinated that a man behind the camera could have so much influence on what was happening in front of it. It never occurred to me that they controlled the entire thing” he says, segueing to the directing part of his career. Although he loved dancing, and even had a minor stint in stand-up (“Never again” he assures me, shaking his head), he truly started to follow his passion for directing in high school when he joined the infamous Digital Dogs.
One of the many geniuses behind Redlands High’s “Friday Show” – which was a memorable 10 minute break from our classes every Friday – Stevens got into the habit of making short films and bits, giving him the opportunity to act, write, and direct his own material for a wider audience. It was a way to add to his already growing portfolio of action flicks he’d made with friends when he was younger. It all paid off when he submitted his very own commercial for the Omnitrans Transportation contest and won a new laptop, a thousand bucks in cash, and local fame as the commercial was broadcasted on TV.
Since then, it’s only been up.
His advice for filmmakers?
Firstly, screw up. Often.
“It’s the only way to really learn, especially in an environment and industry like this one.”
Stevens insists that making mistakes is what makes him who he is today, and has no regrets because of that mindset.
Secondly, stay true to your visions.
“It’s too easy to lose your integrity to make other people happy. But that isn’t ever worth it.”
In fact, Stevens was particularly headstrong when it came to creating his last film,
. Although it was a challenge to breathe life into a nonexistent object, using animation and a stellar production team, he was able to make a childhood dream come true.
Finally, don’t bother playing it safe.
“Even if the most trusted people in your life are telling you something may be impossible, go for it anyway if you really have faith.”
What prompted that last quote? His newest film, RUN, which premiered Friday, April 3rd in the Folino Theater in Marion Knott Studios.
At this initial meeting, Trevor was still forming the details for RUN, but his excitement for the project was evident. He spoke with so much passion and fervor for this new project, I felt like I was as invested in it as he was, even though in July it was my first time even hearing about it. It’s the first of its kind for him – an entire 17 minute dramatic short film, with some visceral one shot scenes. It was done in Redlands – not unusual for him as a filmmaker, since he makes the effort to shoot at least a part of everything he does back home as a personal touch. He used his favorite actors and crew members – “they’re a family, I rarely choose anyone I haven’t worked with before because the people I usually work with are so exceptional” – and believes the result will be unique.
“I really wanted to make an action film with a grounded core where you could literally feel the heartbeat of the characters and feel like you’re in the room with them.” This is conveyed through a series of continuous one shot takes at the most intense parts of the film, Birdman style. “No dramatic cuts, just the raw meat, so you can’t feel comforted with the idea of it being a movie. Instead, you know every single second you watch on frame is happening and you won’t know what pitfall lies 2 feet away.” In essence, this movie is not a feel-good, romantic flick that leaves you feeling positive. It punches you in the gut in the most powerful way, which has its own merits.
It’s clear that Trevor has a bright future ahead of him, but the height of it might just be beginning with RUN.
Tansu Philip is a Junior Political Science and Television and Broadcast Journalism double major at Chapman University. She’s a proud panther and loves getting to know her fellow classmates when she isn’t working on her food blog, Tasting with Tansu. She is not a fan of USC in any way, shape or form.