In 2013, at age 13, the Richmond, Kentucky native founded his own independent media production company, Menlo Lights. In 2015, he released the faith-based short Every Man's Pryce, about a pickpocket whose life changes course after he is released from jail.
Up next for Stendel, now 16, is a red carpet premiere Thursday at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington of his latest short drama Orphaned Courage. Chad Sigmund stars as an orphan who learns that his long-lost brother is alive and has become a gang leader. In an interesting plot twist, the orphan character, Elliot Thompson, has been raised by a retired MMA fighter.
All proceeds from the September 22nd event will go to ABBA Fund, an organization that provides interest-free loans for families seeking to adopt a child. That's right; this accomplished young man is already finding ways to charitably benefit others through his art.
From a recent interview with the Richmond Register:
Stendel said inspiration for the film came from his own family, which includes four adopted cousins. “I knew early on I wanted to spread the message of hope that it doesn’t matter whose DNA you have, but whose heart you have,” he said.
Sigmund, an experienced actor, pays Stendel a lot of nice compliments in the article. The filmmaker also released a 2015 concept short titled What You See.