“Stevie D,” an unusual crime drama full of ironic humor is now available on demand via all digital platforms. Chris Cordone, writer, director and dual-role star of this film sat down to talk with me about how he went from a baseball playing athlete at Wake Forest University, to Wall St., to Hollywood. It sounds bizarre, but with his calm and reassuring voice filled with a reflective chuckle, Cordone’s path in life makes complete sense.
Cordone, growing up in small town in Fairfield County, just outside New York City, had always been drawn to the allure of Wall St. But baseball was his first love and he was able to play for Wake Forest University. He reassured me that he was an very good student but it was his minor in Italian that continued to light the film spark within him. His professor was a film fanatic, much like Cordone’s father, and introduced him to all the film artistry and beauty within this rich culture. But after college, Cordone refocused himself and shared,
“I thought I’m not going to play baseball anymore. It’s time to stop playing and do something serious. I tried to get the best job that I could and I was very lucky. I got a very highly coveted job as an investment banking analyst. I was really enticed by the idea of being a young man living in NYC with a great job. [Then] I quickly realized that life was happening now. You can talk about your plans and your dreams in high school and college, but then when you’re getting up every morning to do it, there’s no more dreaming. I have to figure out if I’m doing the right thing.”
Cordone completed his tenure on Wall St. and left NYC after toying with the idea of going back to film school. He opted to become an actor and follow the paths of greats like Cassavetes who were first actors and then writers and directors. While NYC was still suffering the devastating financial and emotional fallout from Sept. 11, acting jobs were far and few between. Cordone moved to L.A. and after a few bit roles here and there, he decided to start writing “Stevie D.” Cordone recalls, “I didn’t want to be an actor waiting for a phone call,” which ironically happens in the screenplay of “Stevie D.” With the help of friends who stayed on Wall St., Cordone brought the film to life.
Kevin Chapman plays Lenny, the “enforcer” in the “family.” Cordone felt that finding the right actor to play this role was key. “That character was the core, the most important in the film.” While the film really is about father-son types of relationships, “Lenny” needed to be believably tough yet funny. Cordone recalls how Chapman came aboard:
“His agent read the script and I’m thankful to her for doing that. A lot of bigger agents won’t do that because they know there’s not a lot of money associated with it. He just wanted to do something different. He wanted to feel the passion of a smaller production. He had to be believably tough and then he also had to be funny. What I liked about Kevin is that he didn’t try to be funny! The jokes came out of the situation. The more he tried to do what he does, the [funnier he is]. The scheduling worked out and it was really just perfect.”
Cordone not only wrote and directed “Stevie D,” but he also starred in it as the leads Stevie D and Michael. Cordone shared with me some of the logistics of taking on a dual role and filming an independent film.
“I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think on set. I had to set the two apart and trust my impulses. We needed to differentiate the characters a bit and Stevie fit the scruffy kind of guy. The beard for Stevie is fake and she (the make up artist) had to put it on me every time. I have no problem growing a beard…I’m Italian! But I often had to film the two characters on the same location on the same day. She’d take it off and I’d be Michael.”
Cordone shared that the two characters have a little bit of him in each. He admitted that he’s got a temper and then laughed that perhaps his wife should weigh in on his other attributes of each character. He enjoyed the fact that there’s even a joke about auditioning and always bringing your other character, the wrong one, to the audition. “That’s the way Hollywood is,” he sighed.
While the pre-production and filming went off without a hitch, the post-production seemed a bit more stressful as Cordone and his wife had become new parents. Balancing being a new dad and attempting to edit with post-production personnel long distance while being sleep deprived was a bit challenging. The pride and love in Cordone’s voice could be easily heard as we chatted about kids growing up. “He’s my little guy. I’ll change his diapers forever if he just stays like this.”
Cordone continues to work on new screenplays which don’t feature him as one of the actors. He said, “It was really liberating to not have to write for myself.” Currently he is “shopping” these scripts around. Cordone and his wife, co-owner of Cake Monkey Bakery in L.A., are “…supportive of one another, but we don’t live in each other’s worlds” which sounds like a delicious and perfect balance.
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