Chris Cordone, director of “Stevie D,” definitely is no stranger to Newport Beach. “I used to go as a kid; my father was a defense contractor, and that area was full of that in the 80’s,” he explained when reached by phone for an interview. “I used to go to Newport Beach every now and then on a trip and I just thought I was in Heaven.”
Darkly humorous, “Stevie D” focuses on the spoiled, obnoxious son of a wealthy Los Angeles businessman. Stevie does something that probably will get him killed, so his father hires Michael Rose, a lookalike actor, to take his place. Cordone plays both roles.
The film will screen as part of the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 26. In addition to directing and playing a dual role, Cordone served as producer. He pointed out that it took five years to get the film into production. Throughout that period, they had a couple of different producers attached to the project and a couple of actors interested in the film.
“You start to learn the way the town works and the way shopping a script works, the way the agencies work. And you realize that this just isn’t ever going to happen the way we have it drawn up. A couple of my friends, who are the executive producers, we got together and said ‘Let’s just make this now. We have, I think, enough to make a good film.’ It will be low-budget, but we had a very good line producer who could deliver it,” Cordone explained.
The hardest part of “Stevie D” was playing the dual role because one character has a beard. Cordone said that meant he was in the make-up chair a lot, sometimes at inconvenient times: “We had to shoot location days. So if we had a location and both characters were in that location, I had to have a beard and not a beard. Even though I’m Italian and can grow a beard in a few hours, I couldn’t grow one quickly enough. I was often in the chair when the conversations between the DP (Director of Photography) and AD (Assistant Director) are going on. That’s a distraction.”
Even with the beard issue, one of the many hats that Cordone was not willing to give up was actor. He wrote the characters for himself to play.
“I was struggling to break in; I was like a day player, as they call it. You’re on set for a day or two, you have a couple of lines, maybe two scenes. Usually one [scene] in a handful of shows and a lot of commercial work and none of it was very fulfilling. I wrote this, as a lot of actors do, as a way to say ‘This is what I can really do.’ I didn’t want to give that up; I was committed to that from the beginning,” he offered.
Hal Linden, who rose to fame on TV’s “Barney Miller,” also has a role in “Stevie D.” Cordone said that he had heard Linden hosting a show on satellite radio. “I heard this very robust voice, and I had been thinking of an actor for the part of the agent. I didn’t want that old shuffling, bumbling-about agent that’s been done before. I just wanted to show an agent who actually was quite virile and still going strong. And when I heard Hal’s voice come through, I said ‘He’s the perfect guy,’” he said.
“Stevie D” screens at the Newport Beach Film Festival on Tuesday, April 26 at 5:15 p.m.