NRL star to make feature film debut
ACTOR Dan Ewing jokes that when he received a film script from Jason Stevens, he had to check if it was actually the work of a retired rugby league player.
"I couldn't put it down,'' Ewing said of Chasing Comets, which is based on Stevens' life story.
"I said to Jase: 'Aren't you supposed to be an old front-row forward?'
"Seriously though, this is Jason's first film and what he's been able to accomplish is incredible," Ewing said.
"The way the film has come together, Australian audiences are going to love it."
Described as both heartwarming and funny, the film is a dream come true for Stevens.
He studied a screenwriting course after he retired from league in 2005.
"It's a comedy-drama which explores the battle lines between Australian rules and rugby league but also the life choices we make in love and in relationships," Stevens said.
"I'm hoping people can have a laugh and enjoy what is a very relatable movie."
It was filmed last year in Wagga Wagga and Sydney.
Ewing and Isabel Lucas lead an all-star Aussie cast that also includes Peter Phelps, Rhys Muldoon, Havana Brown and Stan Walker.
However, putting the film together hasn't been an easy journey for Stevens.
The former NSW, Australian and Cronulla Sharks forward offered an insight into how difficult financing his filmmaking debut was - his mother was the first person to invest in the project.
The 45-year-old also assembled the stellar cast without a casting agent.
"Your first film is such a challenge to find people who believe in you and are willing to back you - as it should be," Stevens said.
"Because, basically, you're asking people to invest in you without any previous work to show them.
"It was challenging - two weeks before filming started, I had an investor pull out.
"But I knocked on a lot of doors to find a small group of faithful investors who would back this film.
"My mum invested and my wife Rebecca was also an executive producer of the film and the head of wardrobe, so it was a real family effort."
With a budget of "zero" for the actors' wardrobe, Rebecca said it was a strain, with long hours both on set and at home "washing jerseys".
However, it was all worth it.
"On the last day of filming I swear he (Stevens) was going to have a nervous breakdown," Rebecca said.
"I'm so proud of him. It's been a long journey but we've done this as a team."
Stevens said he was already working on his second film - a World War II story called Z-Unit.
Chasing Comets will be released nationally on Thursday.