A First Home Run
24-year old Film Connection graduate Gavin Checchi recently sent his premiere short, The Last Home Run, out into the film festival circuit. The poignant and emotionally vulnerable short has already made waves, garnering several awards, including The Award of Recognition in The Best Short Films Competition and The Audience Choice Award at YoFi.
How did you originally get into film?
My dad turned me on to movies at a young age. My dad really liked baseball, and if he wasn’t watching a baseball game, he would be watching a movie. He [gave me an appreciation] for older films, primarily the 70s and 80s… also old 50s B movies, old horror films, action films. He was a big Silvester Stallone fan. That’s how I got into action films, [which are] what I want to primarily do in the film business. My dad passed away when I was 11 or 12, ever since then my interest in film has grown [even further]. [I like] movies with a [purpose and] message.
What are examples of films that have a strong message?
You could say Rocky does. Another big one is Rudy— “don’t give up on your dreams.” That’s a message I particularly like. When I was younger, but still to this day, people tell me that [my dreams aren’t realistic]. It happens to everyone with a [vision]. They’re laughed at [when their dreams are too big]. I call those people naysayers.
“I call those people naysayers.”
Do you feel more connected to your dad when making films and engaging in cinema?
Yes… I do feel more connected to my dad when making films… I was always connected to my dad, I had a very strong relationship with him. I was lucky to get to know him. [His death] left an impact on my life, and I still think about it. But it doesn’t affect my life like it used to… at least, if it does I don’t notice it.
What are the next steps in your career?
I’ve been making short films, and as I progress and get more experience in the job market, then I’m going to start [getting bigger] financing. I want to get into features, but I need some sort of money coming in for the that. I moved back to New York [after leaving college prematurely], and I want to finish my college education.
Congrats on your first film, can you tell us about it?
The film is about my dad… I was the director…. [it’s called] The Last Home Run. It’s about my dad’s last trip to Yankee Stadium. He was a hugggge New York Yankee fan. It talks about how he was able to do all this stuff… he got to wear some Joe Girardi’s rings. They had just built the new stadium and we got to go. My mom did the [narration], she had most of the spotlight. It’s got a deep message and [strong emotional core]. I was very surprised that my first project received these awards.
What was it like collaborating with your mom on something so personal to both of you?
My mom broke down into tears [off camera]. She needed time to get away from it. I didn’t break down, I don’t cry normally, I’ve kind of gotten over my dad’s death. I think it means more to my mom, even though it means a lot to me, because it was her [husband]. She was probably crying in tears of joy because she probably thought this day would never happen. I felt sympathy for her, but I didn’t know how to show it on the outside.
Do you see making art that deals with personal tragedy as cathartic or therapeutic?
I would like to make a film near the end of my life, like a biopic. A film about my life, but [until then] I’d like to keep things more private. I’ve had some issues, and I’ve overcome [a lot].
How’d you hear about Film Connection?
My mom told me about. I think she found out through friends or the internet, I’m not sure. I took most of my classes through covid, so it was mostly online.
Tell us about your mentor.
My mentor was Zef Coda, he’s a very nice guy. He did a lot for me. In the beginning I didn’t know [much], and he showed me a lot. He submitted me to YoFi. I had a good mentor, and I’ve already achieved a moderate amount of success.
Any advice for someone entering the program?
Stick it out, make the best of what you can do. I’ve had a very bumpy life. A lot of ups and downs. Film connection has been one of my ups.