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Interview with 'Love and Baseball' Writer-Director Steve Acevedo

Steve Acevedo shares how the play of the same name written by Jerry Montoya came to his attention, the adaptation and collaborative process with fellow screenwriters Tate Hanyok and Joe Boothe, his personal connection to the material, and his filmmaking journey as a multi-hyphenate filmmaker.

A chance meeting sparks love between Will and Michele, but due to poor timing and the reality of life--they strike out twice. If fate gives them another shot--will they hit or miss?

Love and Baseball filmmaker Steve Acevedo shares how the play of the same name written by Jerry Montoya came to his attention, the adaptation and collaborative process with fellow screenwriters Tate Hanyok and Joe Boothe, his personal connection to the material, and his filmmaking journey as a multi-hyphenate filmmaker.

Love and Baseball. Photo courtesy Steve Acevedo/State City.

Love and Baseball. Photo courtesy Steve Acevedo/State City.

When did you become aware of the original play of the same name written by Jerry Montoya and what was that discussion like in terms of adapting it to a feature film?

Tate Hanyok, my producing partner, and I were both experiencing similar roadblocks in our careers. At the time, I was having trouble getting financing for some bigger projects, so she brought me the play, written by her friend, Jerry Montoya, as a project we could adapt and produce on our own. I read the play, loved it, and a year later we started making it.

What was the adaptation and writing collaboration process like between you and the other writers, especially with Tate Hanyok playing such a pivotal role in the film as well?

It was quite linear. I gave it a first pass that brought my voice and a Mexican-American perspective to the story. Then we brought in Joe Boothe to do a second pass to help with structure and open it up in terms of scope, and Tate finished it off with a pacing/comedy/female perspective punch. Once we had the shooting script, Max (lead actor), Tate, and I would rehearse and tweak the dialogue to help make it feel as naturalistic as possible.

Steve Acevedo

Steve Acevedo

I sense there must be a personal and/or emotional connection to the story for you, especially with Will Reyes being a cinematographer and passionate about baseball – did you often find yourself pulling from your own experiences while developing Wills character for the film?

Admittedly, there are similarities between me and Will Reyes, but he is a cinematographer in the play, so that was a complete coincidence. Apparently, that fact about him led Tate to think of me to direct the movie version because she saw how I was always on the road for various cinematography gigs. I also played basketball growing up, not baseball. Max would make fun of me on set saying he was playing me! But the truth is, I was drawn to creating a character that I know very well, but that most of this country doesn’t get to see that often in film and TV: my college-educated Mexican-American friends who are all living successful lives with the regular ups and downs of life. There’s a little bit of all of us in Will.

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Really enjoyed the storytelling structure analogy with baseball – was that original to the play?

Jerry Montoya, the playwright, wrote a 3 act play that’s essentially a love letter to baseball. The play uses the game of baseball as a metaphor for love and life. Will views his world as a series of games, each ending in a strikeout or another chance at-bat. We wanted to keep that POV in the movie as well.

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Tell us about your filmmaking journey. What inspired you to become a visual storyteller?

My parents loved movies, so they took me to see everything when I was growing up. It didn’t seem like a realistic career option until I found myself cast in a commercial in college. I was fascinated by the filmmaking process, so during my senior year, I teamed up with my buddy, Ariel Gonzales, to co-write and co-direct our first short film called The Low Ho-Down. It was about a washed-up pimp who “dipped his hands in another man’s sauce.” We had no idea what we were doing, but our friend, Vanessa Martinez, was an actress who had just filmed Limbo with John Sayles, and we were able to cast a “real actress.” She was fantastic, and I was instantly hooked by the creation of a new world through a lens. It’s such a powerful storytelling tool. Haven’t looked back since then.

[L-R] Max Arciniega as Will Reyes and Tate Hanyok as Michele Wyatt in Love and Baseball. Photo courtesy Steve Acevedo/State City.

[L-R] Max Arciniega as Will Reyes and Tate Hanyok as Michele Wyatt in Love and Baseball. Photo courtesy Steve Acevedo/State City.

What kind of stories or themes are you drawn to as a storyteller?

My interests are quite broad. I absolutely loved directing Queen of the South with lots of crime and action, but then I directed Love and Baseball, a light-hearted romantic dramedy. There’s not really a throughline between the two other than the leads being Mexican. My favorite movie of all time is Desperado, but my favorite movie of the last 10 years is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Ultimately, I’m drawn to stories that explore the power of relationships, whether platonic or romantic, but in a very real way.

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Advice for those adapting a stage play into a feature film.

Every story needs a different kind of attention. In my process for this project, I was so focused on keeping the dialogue and the action moving, in fear of boring a movie-going audience. it’s easier for an audience to watch two people in a room talking on the stage because of the inherent tension that theater creates. It’s live. It’s happening in your presence. In movies, people can simply turn it off or tune out. You have to find more elements than just good acting and writing to keep audiences interested. My goal was to give this two-hander in one room as much life as possible, so we added multiple locations, a party scene, and added 27 speaking roles. We created interesting characters to surround the lives of our leads so we could see them and not just talk about them. We also really focused on creating scenes within the scenes, so the actors were constantly progressing through the questions that each act proposes. 

Love and Baseball is now streaming on HBO Max.


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