ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — It’s safe to say Chris Conley has always felt at home in a film room.
Of late, the wide receiver has resided in the Chiefs’ version of one, studying to prepare for his third season in Kansas City.
But when football is not on the front burner, and time for extracurricular activities abounds, Conley’s fingers aren’t indolently pressing pause and rewind on video. They’re fussing with GoPro cameras or iPhones, editing clips to the sound of movie scores and learning from friends who are better-versed in the art of filmmaking than he is.
“When I was in college, I had the opportunity to make some stuff myself,” Conley said after training camp at Missouri Western State University this week. “(I) fell in love with it, fell in love with storytelling, fell in love with creating these worlds that people can escape to.”
Conley has long been known in the football world as an aspiring movie maker. Before his name was ever called by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, he’d already released a Star Wars fan film called “Retribution,” in which former University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt and running back Todd Gurley made cameo appearances.
Late last year, his affection for Star Wars reared its head again when he wrote a review about “Rogue One” on The Players Tribune.
Conley would probably be equally pleased with a camera in hand as he is with a football.
It shouldn’t come as a shock, then, that Conley’s interest in movies is multidimensional.
In late April, he released a concept trailer for “Volition,” a film in which a man with super powers discovers he can’t perform heroic deeds without putting himself on the line.
Conley, who studied journalism in college, has toiled over the project for more than 2.5 years. It’s not just something he does for giggles.
Though the trailer was filmed in the early stages, he has since worked with writing coaches to finesse a story line and spent time on sets similar to the universe he set out to create. Kansas City’s own Paul Rudd has even taken Conley under his wing, showing off the set of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” when Conley was home in Georgia recently.
One of his final steps is to write a story for the film, something more tangible Conley can pitch to studios.
“It’s been a process learning how to do that correctly and learning how to capture the mind and imagination of kids and older people,” Conley said. “I’m still learning it. It’s awesome to be able to see really talented people in their element, in their space, creating.”
The further down the Hollywood rabbit hole he gets, the closer Conley is to his big break.
But first, there’s football. There’s stepping into the void left by Jeremy Maclin, and there’s the desire to bring home a Super Bowl title.
There is “Volition,” too. But Conley will have to table it for now.
“Anything in the movie industry is just like football,” he said. “It doesn’t last long and you’re going to hear ‘no’ a lot of times. It’s damn near impossible to get into. But at the same time, professional football is damn near impossible to get into.
“So if you have the work ethic and you’re willing to continue going forward even when people tell you that you can’t -- and if you have the volition to work at your craft and perfect it -- it’s something that you can do. I think surrounding myself with people who have done it helps.”