Listen: Sam and Duncan chat to newly minted film maker Jason Stevens, with a cameo from Beau Ryan.
Above: Jason Stevens and Beau Ryan, mates and film pals, share a joke on the set of ‘Chasing Comets’.
There’s something Jason Stevens has been keeping on the lowdown for more than a decade. After the rugby league legend retired from footy, he quietly started out on the long road towards a new dream: scriptwriting for the screen.
Fast-forward 13 years, and his hilarious first film Chasing Comets is about to hit cinemas. Star-studded, laugh-out-loud-funny, and based around some of Stevens’ own life story, the movie looks set to be a heartwarming crowd-pleaser.
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Set in the NSW country town Wagga Wagga, where the rivalry between the AFL and NRL footy codes is fierce, Chasing Comets tells the story of footballer Chase Daylight (played by Home & Away’s Dan Ewing), his personal struggles, and his troubled relationships on and off the field.
The script gets pretty autobiographical when we see Chase turn to faith in God (as Stevens famously did)—and cop an intense ribbing from his team-mates and community as a result.
They’re serious themes that Stevens treats with a blend of respect and self-depracating larrikin humour. Chase’s admission that “I’ve decided to follow God,” for example, is followed by his mate’s quip, “Where?”
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Alongside Ewing the film stars some big names in Aussie showbiz: singer-actor Stan Walker (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) as Chase’s antagonistic best mate, and Isabel Lucas (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) as Chase’s girlfriend.
There’s also comical performances from John Batchelor (Sea Patrol, Red Dog), Rhys Muldoon (Grass Roots, Rake), George Houvardas (Packed to the Rafters), Kat Hoyos (Here Come the Habibs), and Katrina Risteska (Home & Away, Dance Academy). Football star Beau Ryan also features as Chase’s hilarious and bumbling NRL team-mate.
Main Character Faces His Demons, Much Like Stevens Did Himself
Stevens caught up with Sam and Duncan on the Breakfast show ahead of the movie’s launch. He talked about the father-son theme portrayed in the film, which sees Chase heading down a destructive path towards becoming just like his father.
“He’s repeating the mistakes of the past and there’s a line in there that the Reverend, played by George Houvardas from Packed to the Rafters says – ‘Sometimes it’s hard to make a relationship work when you’ve never seen one work at home’,” he says.
“It’s pretty raw and real. He (Chase) has got some issues, which is where I’ve drawn on the truths of my character, but he’s willing to make some changes.”
Chase’s journey to faith in the film is not unlike Stevens’s own; he became a Christian at the height of his footy career and famously went public about his decision to be celibate until marriage.
“It’s a brave thing to approach your own fears and demons and to change,” he said. “Especially in the context of the footy, sports environment where everyone is taking the mickey out of you. But it’s worth a bit of a ribbing because you end up becoming the person you’re meant to be.”
Serious Messages are Easier Wrapped in Laughter
Stevens added that making audiences laugh was a very deliberate choice.
“I wanted to up the comedy in the film,” he said. “Not to make light of some dramatic moments, but I think Aussies do it best when we laugh at ourselves, and hopefully that’s what I’ve produced.”
Jason admits that when he first started screenwriting he was “very green” and naive about what was involved, but has worked solidly to learn the ropes and now has 10 scripts under his belt.
“I’d love to be in this industry as long as possible, because stories, I believe, can change peoples’ lives,” he said. “There’s a whole range of reasons why I’ve gone into the film industry so hopefully I’m in it for a long time.”
Chasing Comets, rated PG, is in cinemas Thursday August 23.
Hear The Interview
Catch the full conversation in the audio player above. Listen out for a surprise appearance by Beau Ryan, who interrupts the interview, and takes the chat down a hilarious side-track about football, and his own Christian faith.