Professors reflect on Steven Caple Jr., famous movie director, BW alumnus

Steven Caple Jr., an alumnus of BW, has reached a point in his career where he is working on movies with million dollar budgets.


Baldwin Wallace University Relations

Steven Caple Jr. at the Cleveland screening of “Creed II,” which grossed 214 million dollars after being directed by Caple.

As June approaches, very big changes are on the horizon for BW graduate, Steven Caple Jr. Five years after directing his debut film, “Creed 2,” which grossed 214 million on a 50 million budget, Caple returns to the big screen with “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.” 

“He wasn’t just standing around waiting for something to do. He was very hard working. If the assignment asked for a scene, he would shoot a whole movie instead,” said Director of Broadcasting Joe Tarantowski, one of Caples former professors. 

Caple is a BW alumnus who graduated in 2010 with a bachelors in both film studies and marketing. He would go on to further his career at the University of Southern California where many notable filmmakers, such as “Star Wars’s” George Lucas and “Black Panthers” Ryan Coogler, have attended.  

Five years after graduating from USC, he got the opportunity to direct “Creed 2,” which despite it being his first big break, he was hesitant to direct. 

 “We often had conversations about stories that actually mean something to people. Stories that were not about explosions or making money. He wasn’t interested in doing “Creed 2” because he didn’t want to be tied down to a franchise,” Tarantowski said 

The formulaic Hollywood model of making a movie just to set up the next movie isn’t something that appealed to Caple until he learned of the humanity that could be woven into the story. 

Drago [the reoccurring Rocky villain], everyone loves to hate him. He killed Apollo Creed [Rocky’s supporting character] and is made out to be a villain. It’s not until “Creed 2” that you get his perspective about what it’s like to go back to your country after losing. What it’s like to be hated in both America and Russia and what one will do to get respect back. It makes him more sympathetic and more human,” Tarantowski said. 

This focus on humanity is something Caple seemed to value as a filmmaker. 

“He had a lot of empathy in him for groups that are not seen on the big screen. His motivation
wasn’t financial success but rather combining filmmaking with the opportunity to give people
voices,said Dr. Molly Swiger, professor of communications arts and sciences. 

Swiger had met Caple early on in his filmmaking career while he was still in high school.  

“I met him in a program called Summer Scholars, where high school boys would come and stay a week and take summer classes. He was very quiet, but he just did his stuff. He had a website, was writing scripts all the time [and] producing films. He was working all the time,” Swiger said. 

While being his professor, Swiger also saw the love Caple has for humanity and the importance it had in his stories. 

“He was about the work and still is. He had a sort of social justice view when it came to making movies and how it could combine with storytelling. He was passionate about filmmaking and social consciousness. Having something more than financial success and giving marginalized people a voice is what motivated him to get out there,” Swiger said. 

Although Caples success can’t be boiled down to one particular thing, both his professors agree that the humanity in his work is what motivated Caple to get out there and make a name for himself. 

Others in the BW community, like criminal justice student Jack Knox, are inspired by the story of Caples success.
“We all strive to be the best we can be in our respective fields. To see someone like Steven Caple become as successful as he is, it gives [me] hope to go out into the world and become great myself,” Knox said. 

Knox has been heavily involved in his major outside of the classroom through ride- alongs with police officers, internships and other criminal justice events held at BW. He hopes that he can make the school proud by succeeding in his field and making a name for himself just like Caple has done.
“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” is set to release June 9 making it Caple’s first blockbuster
franchise with a 200 million dollar budget.