Footy star, TV presenter, author and doco-maker Jason Stevens just added another string to his bow: screen writer and producer.
The former NRL celebrity is currently filming his own original Aussie flick, Chasing Comets. And it’s got some big Aussie names on board.
There’s Stan Walker, Rhys Muldoon (House Husbands), Dan Ewing and Isabel Lucas (Home & Away), George Houvardas (Packed to the Rafters), Kat Hoyos (Here Come the Habibs) and more.
The film tells the story of Chase, a football player, his battle with the footy-star lifestyle, and his journey towards faith.
Jason says the story took themes from his own story.
“The prevailing [storyline] is about a player who considers his values and his lifestyle, and it’s not getting him to where he wants to be, and so he opens his heart to faith,” he said. “It’s not a highway to heaven type story. It’s quite raw and real where he struggles with his faith, and I think people will relate to that and hopefully it will encourage a lot of people too.
“I guess it’s loosely based on my time in league.”
A Film Seven Years in the Making
Jason said the film has been in the making for about seven years.
“The more I’ve learnt about the film industry, the more fortunate I realise I am that I’ve even got the film up, because it’s so incredibly hard,” he said. “Everything has to align in terms of cast, finance, schedules, it’s such a battle. Even though it’s been seven years, I’m so grateful, because we’re shooting, and it’s going really well.”
Some of the interior scenes have been shot in Sydney, but most of the filming has been done in Wagga, where the movie is set.
“One of the themes of the film is [the rivalry of] NRL versus AFL, and Wagga’s one of the few towns where it’s very tightly contested, where there’s a great competitiveness, and a great presence of both AFL and league,” he explained.
“Part of the theme is ‘what’s the better code’, and we have a lot of fun with that.”
Being new to the film industry, Jason admitted the only reason he pulled together such a great team was because he already had so many friends in showbiz. In a nutshell, he worked his contact list.
“If I had gone through their agents I would never have gotten a look-in, but I had some good relationships,” he said. “But the script had to resonate. With Isabel (Lucas), I sent it a few years ago, and we went back and forth a fair bit with notes. We were particularly mindful of having a strong female character in there.”
Commitment and Talent
Above: Jason Stevens with cast members Dan Ewing, Havana Brown and Stan Walker.
Jason said he’s been impressed by the commitment of the actors to such a unique project.
“We’ve just got so many great people and they’ve come every day prepared and ready to give it their all,” he said. “There’s been such good will. I’ve been totally impressed with their professionalism and commitment. I can see why all these actors have done really well outside of this film.
“We’ve just had Gary Eck do a little piece as well, who co-wrote and directed Happy Feet 2. He’s such a funny comedian. We have guys like that adding value everywhere.”
Isabel Lucas told the Daily Telegraph she loved working on Australian films and was excited to be part of the project.
“Jason Perini (director) is taking a really unique spin on a footy film with a very artistic take on it, which I find exciting,” she said. “[Lead character] Brooke has strong values and she is learning to stand up for herself and what she deserves and doesn’t deserve, in terms of a partnership… she sort of helps Dan Ewing’s character to look at his own values and the way he treats women.”
Jason says he has some Australian artists working on original songs for the soundtrack, and expects the film to reach screens in early 2018.