Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
Stephen Kogon began his show biz career as a screenwriter. He produced and directed his first film, Dance Baby Dance, in 2016. Despite having no formal dance training or experience, he also starred and danced in the film. Stephen still acts occasionally, but currently, his main focus is on writing and producing. He’s written and produced several comedy sketches, the proceeds of which are donated to charities, and he has more scripts slated to be made into films in the near future.
Andreea: What has motivated you to make this movie about this specific topic?
Stephen: I’ve always been a fan of, and identified with, underdog films like Rocky and Rudy. But the idea to make the story about a tap dancer came out of left field. I would often walk at the beach, listening to music to clear my head and at the time, I came up with the story. I happened to be listening to a lot of old-school soul; Sam & Dave, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Jackson 5, mid-70s Michael Jackson and, for some reason, I just started seeing myself tap dancing to those songs, even though I’d never tap danced before in my life. And it made me smile. And I couldn’t stop smiling…. and that’s when the idea for the character and story came about! And also, the underdog aspect and the going after a dream despite tough obstacles’ are what appealed to me.
Andreea: What are your unforgettable moments from your career as a film producer and director?
Stephen: I had so many unforgettable moments making this film, good and bad, that I wrote a book about the making of it (How I Made the Movie DANCE BABY DANCE (While being a 1st time Director, Actor, and Producer). It covers every part of the experience; writing the script, raising the money, casting, hiring, and includes our shooting script with notes about filming each scene. Plus, I interviewed several of my crew members so people could get an idea of their roles on set. I’d say from a writer’s standpoint, it’s always unforgettable when you get to experience actors saying your lines.
Andreea: And what can you tell the audience about your experience on set and later on at the film festivals?
Stephen: We didn’t do any festivals and just released it for a week-long theater run in Los Angeles and after that it went to several VOD platforms and DVD. And we do some select screenings around the United States.
Andreea: What advice can you give to all filmmakers who are especially affected by the recently increased issue of finding the right audience because Amazon is reducing their Prime program for indie films?
Stephen: The only advice I could really give is to make films you’re passionate about. The business side of things changes so often that what is true about today’s market may not be true in six months. So make the movies you want to make and hopefully your passion for it will show and that it will find an audience somewhere.
Thank you, Stephen. We wish you continued success.