Steven Caple Jr. at the Cleveland screening of Creed 2

Part of the storied "Rocky" franchise, "Creed II" marks Caple's second feature film in the director's chair.

BW grad Steven Caple Jr. screens 'Creed II' in Cleveland ahead of worldwide release

November 16, 2018

2010 Baldwin Wallace University grad Steven Caple Jr. at the Cleveland screening of "Creed II"

With Baldwin Wallace University faculty, friends and fans in the audience, filmmaker Steven Caple Jr. '10 gave his hometown an advance look at "Creed II" and, in a post-screening talk, spoke about the experience of stepping into the big shoes of directing a legacy Hollywood franchise.

Caple, who is in the midst of a worldwide marketing tour for the eighth film in the Rocky saga, asked that his hometown be included as a stop.

In his director talkback following the Cleveland screening, he shared fond memories of his time in northeast Ohio and at BW. He also sang the praises of the big-name stars he worked with in "Creed II," including creator and star Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson.

Finding the heart in storytelling

Left to right: Sylvester Stallone, Steven Caple Jr. and Michael B. Jordan on the set of "Creed 2."  (Barry Wetcher/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)"Creed II" is just the second feature film directing effort for Caple, who earned a B.A. in film studies and marketing in 2010 and went on to graduate school at the prestigious University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. His first feature, 2016's "The Land," earned critical acclaim after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival. 

A story for The Plain Dealer traces Caple's Cleveland roots. In "The contender from CLE: Director Steven Caple Jr. battles for a Hollywood title with 'Creed II,'" writer Andrea Simakis notes the "heart" that Caple works to instill in all his films, even in his early work at BW.

From the BW archives, an "SCJ Films" collage of Steven Caple Jr. and some of his BW classmates and professors at work.One example is a short film, "Hush Little Baby," which features "a young single mother in the inner city [who] goes in search of money to buy a battery for her hearing aid to experience the sound of her baby’s voice."

"There is a real love that seems to come through his work, a love of people and the reality that they endure, that explains their humanity," BW professor Joe Tarantowski told the paper.

Working his craft in and out of the classroom

Tarantowski, who attended the "Creed II" screening at the Cinemark Valley View, credits Caple's drive with propelling his career forward.

"As an undergraduate at BW, he was just very productive outside the classroom," Tarantowski says. "He didn’t wait for a class assignment to produce a film. He was always creating something just to work out ideas in his free time. When he finished school, I discovered many saved projects that were never turned in for a grade."

"I've got a lot of his early stuff," Tarantowski told The Plain Dealer. "Someday we’ll have a film festival."

Read more about the Creed II advance preview in a wrap-up by Andrea Simakis on cleveland.com.