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An Intimate Discussion with Filmmaker Howard Bongiovi, Class of 2021

by Levi Dayan


art by Eva Sturm-Gross

[originally published March 11, 2022]


If you stayed on campus through winter term, you may have noticed film crews and cameras swarming the least expected locations. It turns out that the person responsible for this was not Noah Baumbach or any other relevant filmmaker, but actually recent Oberlin alum Howard Bongiovi. You may wonder “isn’t his dad really rich or something?” and “is this movie really important enough that they had to block the laundry room in Talcott?” These are all questions I sought to answer when I sat down with Mr. Bongiovi for an interview last week.

LEVI: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me Howard. How are you doing today?


LEVI: Uhh I’ll just move on to my first question.


LEVI: So what is this movie, and what is it about?

HOWARD: The name of the FILM thank you very much is CLEVELAND STEAMER. basically its about people from all walks of life brought together by a small liberal arts college in Ohio. Every person has a story, every story has a character, maybe even two or three characters, every character has their own story, every story has a beginning, middle, and end, and every end is the beginning of another story. But its mostly gonna focus on the poor people on the margins of society that nobody fuckin gives a shit about except for me. This movie is gonna finally ask the existential questions that most of the ignorant pigfucking hicks that walk among me are too fucking pussy to even think about, like “why is the hookup culture here so wiggidy wiggidy wacked up” and “why do all of these so called communists have clean shoes.”

LEVI: I see… well, I have to ask you about the elephant in the room…


LEVI: Oh no no that’s just a figure of speech


LEVI: Listen, just sit down and put down the wrench! I’m talking about your dad. I mean, he’s a pretty famous rockstar, don’t you think this might be a case of nepo…..

HOWARD: I’LL PUNCH YOU IN THE DICK AND SUE YOU! my dad doesn’t have SHIT to do with my FILM.

LEVI: Really? It says here he’s the executive producer…


LEVI: … Not to mention his music is all over this movie. I mean, how else would an “indie film” afford the licensing to those songs?

HOWARD: WRONG AGAIN and just goes to show how little you understand about music. That’s Springsteen playing during all of the sex scenes and stuff.

LEVI: Well, that still doesn’t change the nepotism thing! Those songs cost even more to license!

HOWARD: NO THEY DONT! My dad could destroy springsteen with his left testicle!

LEVI: Ok look, I’m not trying to make any statement about the quality of your dad’s music…

HOWARD: AND YOU DONT NEED TO. The Blades of Glory soundtrack speaks for itself.

LEVI: Uh, yeah, it does. But look, all I’m trying to say here is that, like, doesn’t it seem a little weird that someone who clearly comes from a deeply, deeply privileged background, someone who didn’t even spend a second out of college before being given the chance to direct their own movie, is now making a movie about people living in poverty?


LEVI: … just, nope?

HOWARD: yeah.

LEVI: I’m confused. I mean, being able to direct a film is something that would be completely off the table for the overwhelming majority of people, and for the remaining fraction of people would require a lifetime of struggling to even be considered as a remote possibility, and you were basically handed that opportunity straight out of college…


LEVI: Oberlin isn’t rural Ohio, we’re part of a metropolitan area with more than two million people living in it…

HOWARD: FUCK YOUR STATISTICS. This is a place where there are ZERO influencers whatsoever and EVERYONE is poorer than me, if that isn't rural then NOTHING is. Do you seriously expect me to spend FOUR YEARS in this poop crusted turdhole and NOT make a movie about it?

LEVI: Ok, I’m beginning to think maybe it might be best if we just stop talking about the movie. Um, could you give me some of your influences?

HOWARD: WITH PLEASURE. Let’s see, uhh, I think Lars von Trier is fucking sick, Gaspar Noé too. Really anyone who’s as good at pointing out how totally fucked up this weird little thing we call “life” is. Uhhh also that guy who plays poker and has guns and fucks all those bitches.

LEVI: Wait, you mean Dan Bilzerian?

HOWARD: DONT FUCKIN INTERRUPT ME MOTHERFUCKER! but yeah that guy. Also Ayn Rand, Gary Vaynerchuk, and the hit folk group Mumford and Sons.

LEVI: Huh. Interesting.


LEVI: Well, Mr. Bongiovi, it looks like we’re out of time. Anything else you want to let our readers know?

HOWARD: YES AS A MATTER OF FACT THERE IS SOMETHING ID LIKE YOU ALL TO KNOW. when I am finished directing my movie CLEVELAND STEAMER I fully anticipate that I will transcend my human form and have super freaky sexual experiments with ghosts and shit so if i’ve ever done you a favor please pay me back sooner rather than later.

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