Steve Race grew up in the 80’s on Long Island in New York. He had a great childhood filled with water sports in the Summer and snow sports in the Winter. He would leave with his friends on their bikes in the morning and come home at dark. They played stickball at the school yard and road bikes in the hills jumping ramps that they made out of dirt mounds. Growing up, Race was influenced by Billy Joel’s music and movies. As a Director, he has drawn from his colorful childhood and amazing parents.Times when parents would let their kids explore and find their own way in the world. When kids would come home tired, dirty, and hungry then go to bed, wake up and do it all over again.-Childhood in the 80’s.
Race was in his first year of college when he started taking acting and screenwriting classes. He quickly fell in love with all of it. It was the first time in school that he realized that he was good at something scholastically. During the Summer in between school he would come out to Hollywood and do Extra work and sneak into the studios and explore with Warner Brothers being his favorite.
Although his family was not in the entertainment business, his dad’s claim to fame was when him and his good friend went out to Hollywood when they were young. His friend ended up hitting it big. He was Telly Savalas.
Race’s first big job in Hollywood was as a Director’s Assistant to Louis J. Horvits. He was directing the Academy Awards at the time. He spent a year and a half with him working on 2 Oscar’s, The Emmy’s, The People’s Choice Award’s and a dozen other shows. It was then that Race learned everything there was to know about Live TV Directing. He really enjoyed being able to walk the red carpet at the Oscar’s and being around the most famous people in the world while receiving an invaluable education in directing.
“Working for Louis J. was at first grueling hard work but it soon became fun. Back then Industry Titans could be as hard on their Assistants/Employees as they wanted. The environment was always on the verge of being hostile. I guess I learned to handle it because it was part of the job.” “On the flip side I got a front row seat to watch and learn from the best Live TV Director who ever lived. One of the coolest things I experienced on my first Oscar’s was standing 20 feet off stage watching Steven Spielberg accept his Academy Award for “Best Directo”r and then give his speech. I recently got to tell him that story at the DGA’s feature Director’s Night.” “My last show I worked with Louis J. on was the 2000 Emmy Awards. That year he won the Emmy Award for Best Live Director for the 2000 Academy Awards. A few years ago I ran into him at a DGA event and he told me that my time with him was my Directing Boot-camp. I learned a lot from him and I would not trade that time of my career for anything. They say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. This is a quote I would have to agree with because I am still here.”
In 2001, Race worked on the launch of the “First Annual Latin Grammy Awards.” “We did a Live 4-Hour telecast via the Internet which was very progressive at the time. Host, Daisy Fuentes was great. My favorite part of the show was a 5-minute tribute I wanted to produce honoring and celebrating the late Singer, Selena. I got the approval to do it, so then I needed the approval from Selen’s family. I personally spoke to and got the approval from her dad Abraham Quintanilla. He ended up sending me out some old Beta Tapes with live performance footage. The tribute came out great.”
Race is most known for his Faith-Based Film, ” I’m in Love with a Church Girl.” It stars Ja Rule and Adrienne Bailon. “What I am inspired by at the moment is what I call Alternative Genres. Genres that are underserved with big audience starving for quality films” “In those genres you have the opportunity to inspire someone and make a difference in their lives. Faith, Urban, and Latin Genre films you can do for lower budgets and still have a chance at a theatrical release; Usually Dramas, but they can be infused with Comedy.
Tell us about some of your techniques as a Director. What should Actors know before working with you?
“Actors who work with me know how dedicated I am. I always say that everything on set is important. Knowing your lines is half the battle. Making dialogue your own is key to making it believable.” “When I was about to direct my first film, my mentor at the time Henry Winkler called me up and gave me the best advice. He said, “Steven if you are directing a scene and it is not working, casually go over to the Actor and whisper in their ear I don’t believe you. Then walk away and try the scene again. You will be amazed at the performance you will receive.”
Race worked with Henry Winkler on documentary series entitled, “Firefighter’s the Series.” “Winkler was an amazing Producer to work with on that project.” “One night we were in South Central, Los Angeles where a gang member was shot through the back of the neck and out his mouth. I am one foot from him as these courageous and brave Firefighters attempted to save his life. They were successful and he lived. I would sit on the Firehouse floor next to the Fire Engine and wait for the alarm to go off so I could get in the truck before the Firefighters, so I wouldn’t interfere with them getting in quickly. They would slide down the pole and jump in and I would already be in there as we drove out the firehouse and to the calls. It was dangerous, but rewarding seeing first-hand what firefighters do day in and day out. I went to calls involving car accidents, forest fires, house fires, medical calls, and car fires. My saddest day was attending and shooting footage at the funeral of an LA City Firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty. Days like that make you really appreciate the people who are out there putting their lives on the line for us every day.”
Race’s “The Story of My Family” is very dear to his heart. He recalls when he first moved to LA. To make extra money he would bartend on the weekends for Quinceanera (celebration for a girls 15th birthday) and Weddings. Being at many Quinceaneras he thought it would be an amazing backdrop for a movie.To date there has never been a major motion picture with the backdrop being a Quinceanera. So, Race wrote it and has been pitching it around town for a while. “It’s a hard sell because it’s a family film and not the usual edgy” R” Rated film about the cartels, border crossing, gang life and every other negative stereotype Latin Genre Hollywood film to date. I wanted to write something that celebrates Latinos that is inspiring and not derogatory in any way. So, I wrote a screenplay about a 15-year Latina who dreams of one day becoming a successful writer. It just so happens it takes place the week of her Quinceanera. The tag line for the film is; Some things in life you don’t appreciate until they’re gone forever.”