Five Questions with Filmmaker Calvin Steinken

Calvin Steinken’s film, Doug’s Christmas, is playing at the 2015 GI Film Festival.

Where are you from and what is your film background?

I am from Chicago and my film background began at Purdue University where I studied broadcast and video production — I assisted in broadcasting the football and basketball games there. After graduating from Purdue, I continued my film education at Tribeca Flashpoint College, located in the Chicago Loop, where I focused studied cinematography and directing.

Who are your biggest influences in film and why?

Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese and Billy Wilder are definitely the filmmakers who’ve had the most profound influence on me and my work. I believe their films are works of art and they present an aesthetic that’s unmatched.

What was the hardest part about getting this film made?

We began filming in January of 2014 and during that time, the city of Chicago experienced one of the coldest and harshest winters on record. Trying to get through those outdoor scenes, sometimes experiencing late nights, really tested the cast and crew. One night in particular, the weather was so cold that we decided to end our day a little early so that the cast and crew wouldn’t be subjected to the bitter cold weather.

What do you want viewers to take away with them after watching your film?

I hope viewers appreciate Clarke Devereux’s (Doug Allen) monologue in the opening bar scene. The story he tells is semi-biographical but his service in the Korean War is completely true and when we filmed that scene, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

What is a fun fact about you that would surprise people?

Some people may find it interesting that when I was seven years old, I was lucky enough to be an extra in such Hollywood movies as Losing Isaiah, starring Jessica Lange and Halle Berry as well as the remake to Miracle on 34th Street. Both movies were filmed in Chicago.

Doug’s Christmas, directed by Calvin Steinken, is playing at Angelika on May 24, 2015. Click here for tickets.