Connor was already gaining notoriety for his acting chops in the short film "Menschen (2013)", for which the Filmstock Utah Film Festival awarded him their Best Actor laurels! He's won two more Best Actor awards for his turn as Michael in Learning to Drive, his work in Todd Solondz' "Wiener-Dog (2016)" is heralded as a stand-out performance by numerous critics, and he was named the 2016 Catalyst Awards Self-Advocate of the Year!
Between acting engagements he is a busy student, athlete and public speaker and as the acting profession often requires, has a part time gig at a restaurant.
Kevin was picked out of nearly 2000 submissions for the role of Red received by our Casting Director, Daryl Eisenberg, CSA. Hailing from NY, he's appeared in numerous television shows, films and stageplays on both coasts.
Says director R.E.Stevens "When our Casting Director narrowed it down to about 60 auditions, she sent them to me to review. Some of us gathered around in my living room and watched every single tape and while I had two solid possibilities as backups in case Kevin wasn't available or he had heard of my disdain for those who are so much better looking than myself, he knocked his audition out of the park. He was our Red! We were thrilled when he joined the cast."
Roderick exited the womb with a passion for filmmaking and has been doing so since 1991 in various capacities including writer, director, producer, editor and most notably as a cinematographer on over 25 feature films.
For a decade, Roderick built a name for himself as an award winning, internationally collected, fine artist with his photorealistic paintings and mixed-media wall sculptures at www.yesitsapainting.com, but in 2013 his love of film and storytelling beckoned, especially the desire to see through this particular project, first conceived in 1998
After graduating from Full Sail Academy, Danny worked in the camera and lighting departments of numerous major films including "Gone Girl", "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides", "The Hangover Pt III", and "Captain American: Winter Soldier". He worked as Roderick's Gaffer on numerous projects while also honing his craft as a cinematographer on short films. When Roderick chose to move forward on Learning to Drive he knew he could count on Danny to bring his well trained eye to the camera.
Danny continues to work with some of the top cinematographers in the business including Jeff Cronenweth and Erik Messerschmidt whom he's presently (Dec, 2016) lighting for on David Fincher's new television series "Mindhunter".
The talented stage actor, Xander Mason was cast out of Tucson almost before anyone else and fortunately just happened to appear similar enough to his older counterpart. He fully intends to continue acting upon graduation and will undoubtedly shine
Caleb Dykstra was also found in Tucson and latched onto the entire cast & crew's hearts. He is the shining star any time he's present.
(LtoR Back Row) Ginger Mason, Jenny Dykstra, ???, Candee McKnight, Colleen Moody, Collin Morrow, Melissa Stevens, Roderick E. Stevens, Chris Wick, Roderick Eugene, Sam Strasshofer, Nicole Carter-Lyde, Kevin Coubal, Jack Cromwell (on the 20k), Tony Whitman, Connor Long, Cass Rasmussen, Greg Cosh, Jeff Boggs, Brian Long (not sur who that is under the tent in the BG)
(LtoR Down in Front) Xander Mason, Andy Stevens, Karla Gatto, Caleb Dykstra, Danny Gonzalez, Lane Luper, Duane Ayers.
In order to control the lighting and art direction, remain unhindered by actual motel patrons and place the camera in positions impossible to achieve in a practical location, we built a motel room set in a hay barn.
In order to convey that Red's overalls were truly well worn and worked in, Abby soaked them in bleach water, grinded on them with a wire brush and smeared them up with black and brown shoe polish.
Filming the black and white police car against the green screen was quite the challenge that required numerous solutions including jacking the back of the car up to alter the angle, covering windows, and using tape to knock down and mask reflections.
As the Art team put the finishing touches on the motel room set, including flying a partial ceiling, Kevin stands in so Danny and his camera and lighting teams can prepare the photography.
Nicole, Connor and Kevin ham it up (one of Connor's favorite hobbies)
The scene called for the camera to traverse over the door and bring the actors from just outside to inside the room requiring meticulous coordination between all departments.
Meanwhile, pay no attention to the director's fashion statement.
Caleb LOVED Bruce (our hero car - a 1977 Toyota FJ40) and spent as much time hanging out in the back of him as possible.
There's no denying, director Roderick E. Stevens and D.P. Danny Gonzalez were more than a little giddy to have the opportunity to shoot a good portion of the film in 35mm, a rare thing in today's productions.
As the sun makes its way behind the Huachuca Mountains to the west, the crew relies increasingly on their HMI lights to make their day.
Having spent untold days in the expansive desert of the Wilcox Playa, our two 'escaped convicts' needed some serious chapping and sunburn action!
(LtoR) Production Coordinator (and Profanity Wrangler) Melissa Stevens, Asst Art Director (and all around Production Elf) Zola Gatto and Wardrobe Wrangler Abby Gatto hang out on the Wilcox Playa between set-ups.
(LtoR) 1st AC (and Associate Producer) Josh Greer, Cinematographer (and general thorn in Roderick's side) Daniel Alexis Gonzalez, and 2nd AC (and Co Producer and more) Duane "Peaches" Ayers.
Roderick's brother Andy is the inspiration for the film and got to visit the set, meet his cinematic representatives Connor and Caleb and even call "Action" and "Cut"!
D.P. Danny (aka DGon) goes over the afternoon's coverage on the motel room set with Roderick.
To carry the actors Connor and Kevin from outside to inside the motel room, the crew suspended the camera from an overhead slider on 20' of railing.
Roderick has worked with Greg on countless productions and always turns to him first!
Roderick Jr (aka Roderick Eugene) gives Andrew a ride to his mark.
Several shots in the film required the camera to be up to 30' in the air.
It was a surreal sight When the crew first rolled onto the Wilcox Playa for the day. This image was captured by Brian Long (Connor's pops)
Many shots were acquired by mounting the camera onto the luggage rack of Roderick's quad.
That beast of a lens was utilized for just one shot of Connor driving Bruce towards the camera. There was a very particular look they wanted for that shot, and that 1000mm lens was the solution.