Trevor Stevens, left; with cinematographer Nico Aguilar; on a set
Trevor Stevens, left; with cinematographer Nico Aguilar; on a set

Trevor Stevens knew from an early age what he wanted to do with his life. He also knew exactly how he wanted to get there. As a competitive ballroom dancer while growing up, Stevens said that he was bitten by the acting bug through a friend who was involved in theater.

“I was a huge ham and always needed a bigger audience to amuse,” the 26 year-old said.

Trevor Stevens, left; with cinematographer Nico Aguilar; on a set
After being cast at the age of 12 in a production of “A Christmas Carol” as the Turkey Boy, Stevens said he realized whether it was on the stage,in front of or behind a camera, he wanted to be a storyteller. The next year he was cast in a student thesis film at Chapman University.

“I knew I wanted to go Chapman,” he says. “The vibe of the students and faculty made me feel right at home. Something in my gut told me I needed to go there. My gut was right.”

Stevens graduated from Chapman’s film program in 2015. His first feature film, “Rock Steady Row,” recently had its world premiere at the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature, as well as the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Slamdance is a festival of independent filmmakers that takes place each year in Park City, Utah, at the same time as the Sundance Film Festival.

Born and raised in Redlands, Stevens spent weekends with his friends making home movies. They were, he says, mostly action and adventure based, as those were the films for which he had an affinity while growing up. In high school, he joined and became president of the multimedia club, overseeing a bi-weekly television show.

“Luckily I met a few other friends who were chasing being directors, as well, who grew up in Redlands and were older by a few years,” Stevens recalled. “I chased their heels and learned as much as I could before submitting to college, myself. Chapman was the only school I applied to. I wasn’t interested in going to any other college.”

Stevens attended San Bernardino Valley College to complete his general education credits before transferring to Chapman. When he got to Chapman, he immediately surrounded himself with other students who shared his passion. They worked on multiple films, the first of which, “Glazed and Confused,” garnered their first festival success at the Palm Springs International Shortfest, part of the Palm Springs International Film Festival. With that same cast and crew, they made their thesis film, “Run,” which won their cinematographer an American Society of Cinematographers award. It was also selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick.

“The short film got me in the room with executives and producers as well as representation to push forward towards the bigger goal of making my first feature film, which was ‘Rock Steady Row,’” Stevens said.

A photo of Trevor Stevens directing“Rock Steady Row” began with what Stevens calls a pipe dream of making an interpretation of “A Fistful of Dollars,” Sergio Leone’s famous spaghetti western, and placing it in a college setting.

“The idea was to bring a whole different look and genre to university life, focusing in on an incoming freshman who gets his bike stolen on day one and comes face to face with its two warring fraternities,” Stevens said. “Ultimately, we wanted to bring a metaphorical view to issues on a college campus, and have some fun while doing it.”

After its success at Slamdance, the film will be playing at festivals in Chicago, Chattanooga, Brazil, Spain and elsewhere before Stevens and his team seeks distribution. Stevens said his proudest achievements have not been accomplished by himself alone.

“I’m very lucky to have worked with such amazing people, both cast and crew, who have made the impossible possible,” he said. “For me, directing means igniting the fire inside each of these individuals and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same vision.”

Now a North Hollywood resident, Stevens stresses that he is never far from his hometown of Redlands.

“I’m very humbled and appreciative to my hometown and for all the good people who have offered their resources and time to help me from project to project,” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at now without the amazing support of my family, friends, mentors and community, that’s the truth.”

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Article from The Press Enterprise