Metaphorically speaking, the on-field heroes and off-field drama of Rugby League can be pure theatre to those watching and involved.
Now, thanks to True Blue Jason Stevens, those theatrics will hit cinema screens with his Rugby League-inspired film, Chasing Comets.
The comedy-drama – eight years in the making – was written and produced by the former Rugby League-hard-man, and stars a host of Australian talent including Isabel Lucas, Dan Ewing, George Houvardas, New Zealand singing sensation Stan Walker, DJ Havana Brown, and former NRL player Beau Ryan.
“I think as a Rugby League community, we’ve all got such great stories to tell,” Stevens says to NSWRL.com.au.
“The story of a player struggling off the field, making poor choices, he wants to be a better man and then going through the process of change, it’s loosely based on myself.
“If you look over at the NFL they do such great documentaries and even films about players that have achieved great things; I hope that people really embrace that the film is a great medium to extend support of the game and show that there’s a different side to players.”
While Stevens headed the production, nothing would have gotten off the ground without his truly amazing support network.
His incredibly supportive wife Rebecca, who was an executive producer on the film to help source investors and also was head of wardrobe, leads that network.
“To be honest, I feel very fortunate to have filmed my first film, it’s incredibly hard to do that because films cost money and not many people want to get behind a first time filmmaker,” Stevens says.
“I’ve got a supportive wife who was great – she was head of wardrobe and was also an EP [Executive Producer] on the film – so it’s been a huge stretch.
“It really stretches to where you question whether you can keep going and then you get a nice little bit of support from people with the NSW Rugby League being one of those that helped me.”
Chasing Comets is set in Wagga Wagga, and has an AFL element to the film. The town has a great dynamic and support for both codes, making it the ideal location.
There was also a significant amount of filming located at the Newtown Jets’ iconic ground, Henson Park.
Stevens retired from Rugby League in 2005, and since then, filmmaking has been his primary focus and passion.
“Filmmaking is really my passion, and it came later in life for me,” Stevens says.
“I didn’t grow up ever thinking that I wanted to do film, but when I retired I had what I thought were some strong story concepts and my interest really grew quite quickly.
“I retired from the Sharks in 2005 and in 2006 I started screenwriting courses. In between then I worked a bit for Fox Sports, I worked for the Matty Johns Show for one year.
“I then worked for the NRL in education and welfare, but was always dedicating most of my time to film.”
Chasing Comets hits cinemas on August 23.