The entertainment industry is one of the toughest businesses and living on a small island can hinder one’s chance at global stardom. Chamorros with big dreams fly off to L.A. or New York for a chance at fame. Steven Lefever moved to California after graduating from Southern High, but he wanted to do something more after finishing college. Today, Lefever is a freelance videographer in Tokyo.
Lefever found more opportunities in the Japanese city, where he wrote and directed Gaikokujin, a short film about foreigners trying to make it in Japan.
“I wanted a story about foreigners in Tokyo going through different stages in their lives, like finding themselves or maybe already found themselves and being successful,” said Lefever. “I wanted to make a film that had characters intertwining like Love Actually or Crash, but in my own setting.”
Gaikokujin attempts to tell a story of 12 lives in only 25 minutes. Lefever acknowledges that his movie feels rushed and unfinished.
“There’s a lot in the film that isn’t told, so the audience has to fill in the gaps. What’s shown is a slice of life of how [the characters] are connected,” said the director. With what is already in Gaikokujin, Lefever hopes to give it more depth in the future.
“It’s just the surface, because this film could be a pilot to a Netflix or Amazon Prime series—if I get this film in the right hands and I get a budget. I had no budget for this film. Everyone who helped did it for passion and to get better in creating. We weren’t trying to make a perfect film and this isn’t a perfect film. We wanted to hone our craft. For the most part, I wanted to fine tune what it means to be a producer, director and writer.”
As Lefever follows his dreams in Japan, he also knows to stay humble and down to earth. “My wife Chisato and my son Airi and my new son are my motivation,” Lefever said. “I have to be creative in making money while also doing my art. When I make my films, it’s to be recognized and to grow my body of work, not really for making money. I must motivate myself to work hard enough to provide as well as creating art.”