In celebration of the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles screenings at Sunset Gower Studios this month, we're conducting a series of Q&A Features and this week we're bringing you our featured Filmmaker Spotlight:
Name/Position: Stephon Stewart/Writer,Director,Producer,Actor
Film: Bigfoot County
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.
The movie that I have is a found footage thriller and it’s best described as Blair Witch meets Deliverance with a touch of Bigfoot. I’ve been working on this project for the last three years of my life. It’s been a long journey. To finally come to the end of it having a distribution deal with Lionsgate is a very exciting thing for me. I can honestly say it has been worth it.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?
Davee Youngblood, who is the lead actor. He is an incredible actor and fearless. I knew he could take it to the next level and to see him do that while we were shooting together was a magical event for me to witness. Also Shy Pilgreen who was the other lead in the film as well. She is a true professional and I have never worked with an actress before who would do absolutely anything that it takes to get it done. It was a cast full of men and Shy stood her ground going face to face with everybody. It was an intense shoot, where we had to work basically 24 hours a day and she loved every moment of it.
Sam Ayers and Don Scribner who are the two veteran actors on this film. They are the best of the best. Working with them was a dream come true for me, it made my job so much easier when you have actors that are great.
Of course none of this would even be possible without my producers Joey Napoli and Johnnie Colter. I love these guys like they were my brothers and I would do absolutely anything for them. They had all the faith in the world with me and trusted that I get it done. The hardest working guys I have ever met, never complained and anytime I needed something they would make it happen. I look forward to my next project with these two because they understand what it takes to make a movie and put it all on the line.
Hunter Mossman who was my Director of Photography. He was a warrior up there during the shoot. I think during the 8 day shoot him and I slept less than 10 hours total. Such an incredible human being and I was so honored to have worked with him. He is absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait until we work on the next film together.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
I feel very honored and extremely grateful to be a part of this event. I know it’s a very respected organization and they are responsible for discovering Blair Witch back in the day. To be a part of that is a very special thing to me. Considering Blair Witch inspired this idea to me 13 years ago.
What inspires you?
The art, it’s honestly that simple. The challenge of putting together a movie from beginning to end and having the pressure of making it good. I love it and thrive on it.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
Some cinema influences for me are Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep.
Steven Spielberg and Jaws is something that I will always admire for the simple fact that it changed the way movies could be made. He took a huge chance when he made that film and it wasn’t easy. People wanted to basically throw him in the water and walk off the set, but Spielberg, who was only 27 years old at the time, believed in what he was doing and ended up making a classic masterpiece.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
Don’t wait around for the phone to ring. Go out there and make it ring. I’ve lived out here for over 7 years and the first few years were very difficult for me because you always have to wait out here for people to call you and hire you.
I just got sick and tired of waiting around so I decided to hire myself and make my own movie. As soon as I decided to do that, people started calling.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
Michael De Luca is a producer I would love to work with. I’m huge fan of his movies and his taste is honestly the same as mine. I'd also love to work with Jason Blum.
What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?
I’m not going to mention names. But I had a movie star want to produce my film. I said yes and I felt like I made it and this was my break. Unfortunately it didn’t work because we had creative differences.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
You only have one chance out here to make it, so you better make each day count. My mother told me this.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Pick up a camera, make a movie and don’t make excuses. Be fearless especially with technology these days. You don’t need a million dollars to make a movie. If you have a solid story that is original and has a great twist, you will be fine.
Where can we expect to see you next?
I’m currently trying to get my next job. It’s a process and takes time but I’m use to it because I understand how the business works. I have been meeting some production companies showing them scripts I have and trying to get my next production deal.
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.
Honestly IMDB is the best way to see what I’m working on. But I’m always open to reading new scripts, I love reading and I think there is so much great material out there that is not getting looked at.
I love when writers send me scripts I try and read everything because you never know what is the next great script. If any writers are reading this article and want to send me a script feel free to email me. I promise I will respond.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Watch Bigfoot County! I have to give myself some kind of shout out, [laughs].