Aaron Landgraf’s short film, “Richie and the Styles” opens with this quote from Jazz legend Miles Davis, “Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.”
This quote rings true throughout the film’s 24 minute runtime. The story centers around Richie (Richard Louis Ulrich) an aspiring jazz trumpet player and his band, consisting of silent percussionist Jackie Boy (Sabastian Neudeck), drunkard slowpoke Benjamin (Luis Perez), and mama’s boy Ellis (Jaan Marion).
Richie’s life is about to change forever when his manager Jerald (Jed Ramsey) informs him that big time record label executive Ed Stevens (Cliff Mirabella) will be coming to see his show that evening. Richie must battle between being true to himself and his music or giving in to the temptation of cold, hard cash.
“Richie and the Styles” is a love letter to jazz in the same way as the 2014 film “Whiplash”. Even more similarity can be drawn between the two films by the presence of a grumpy bald man (Cliff Mirabella and J.K. Simmons, respectively).
This short film is worth a watch and you can catch it on GreenLitGo for free!
By Julienne Graebner │ September 4, 2020
Tommy Kramer’s acting career began as an unlikely one.
“I took an acting class, mostly because I thought it would be an easy grade,” he laughs, saying that despite the fact that he wasn’t crazy about the rigorous rehearsal schedule live theater required, he found himself falling in love with acting. Despite this, a career in acting wasn’t meant to be — not yet, anyway.
“Since my father had impressed the need to be able to earn a living, I drifted toward more practical work after a couple of years in junior college,” Kramer says that acting fell to the wayside in favor of an honest, blue collar job. It wasn’t until after he retired from a long railroad career that his daughter, Kari J. Kramer, an actress herself, encouraged him to explore his love for performance.
“I started looking for extra work on network television shows and feature films in an effort to "learn the ropes" of set etiquette and procedures,” he says, “Soon I was taking roles on independent short films and college projects. I am simply trying to improve with each role at this point.”
“Playing Grandpa Eddie James in “Lost Treasure of Jesse James” was definitely a step up from college project work,” Kramer jokes. He goes on to say that the role of Grandpa Eddie resonated with him, “Eddie James loves his grandkids and wants to pass the torch to them while keeping a certain level of protection that they aren't aware of until the mystery is solved.”
Kramer raves about his time on the set of “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”, saying, “I got the opportunity to work with an awesome director, Adam Boster, and watch him squeeze that special something out of our entire film family.”
He remembers the premiere of the film, saying, “the entire project left us all feeling like stars on the red carpet as we watched Adam's vision come to life.”
Tommy has also worked on Adam Boster’s next feature, an upcoming film called “Shakespeare’s Mummy”. He speaks highly of Boster, saying working with him is an “adventure” and that “Adam Boster is not afraid to challenge every actor and situation. I often wonder how great it would be if he had the resources to make what he envisions in his head, come to life. On both films, we all left the set as family. An exhausted family, but family nonetheless,” a sentiment echoed by Jessica Ambuehl and Sage Buchanan, who both worked on set with Boster and Kramer.
Tommy urges audiences to see “Shakespeare’s Mummy”, a family film, upon its release, saying, “There are obvious nods to the slapstick nature of a Scooby Doo classic, yet the film is laced with underlying messages about family and overcoming chaos. Something that we all need to see these days.”
One fun fact about Tommy Kramer is that he is consistently typecast as a homeless man, including a role on the hit show “What Would You Do?”
He is a good sport about it, though, saying, “Each one is different. As with the public in general, there are many things going on in every life. Usually I get to create my own backstory and build on it. I get to ask myself, why is this guy homeless? Is this guy a drunk? Does he really mean 'God Bless'? Did he ever suffer great loss? Would he better himself if he could? Most importantly — is he happy? Playing the same role, in different flavors, helps me grow as an actor.”
This idea of delving into a character’s back story is something Kramer does with all of his characters. He explains his approach to acting with a unique comparison: “To me — and this will sound odd to some — it is a bit like riding a motorcycle. If you find that sweet spot in the character, you can climb inside and "Ride the Role". You can take corners so fast that sparks fly as your pegs slide on the pavement. You can relax and become fearless and feel the character. THAT is when the magic happens!”
Kramer feels that in this day and age, too many film production companies are looking to make a quick buck, rather than a lasting impact, saying, “This leaves too much garbage floating out there. If the producers break even they end up feeling like the project was a success no matter what the quality of the product is. It makes it hard for good independent films to rise above the noise. It also makes getting funding difficult which leaves would-be actors either broke or working full time doing something else.”
Despite this, Kramer feels that there are still good people in the industry, and says, “Once again, I just thank Adam Boster for all the work he does trying to set up distribution for independent filmmakers.” He explains, “A larger family is being built every day through his work on GreenLitGo and his desire to seek out quality films and help them rise above the noise.”
By Julienne Graebner │ September 3, 2020
I got the opportunity to catch up with actress Tris Marie over Facetime during a break in her busy filming schedule.
“I always wanted to get into acting,” Tris says that she went to Ozarks Technical Community College to study theatre, “but everyone encouraged me to go out and get a normal job, and I listened.” She laughs, explaining that after ages of working a “regular” job, she began to get bored. “I started modelling seven years ago—just as a confidence boost for myself, really.”
In college, Tris studied how to be in front of the camera, but also how to work behind it, assisting behind the scenes on shows like the Emmy nominated “In Search of…” featured on the History Channel. “I just wanted to make sure that I was a very well-rounded actress,” Tris says.
Her big breakout came after an episode of “Xtreme Screams”, a reality show on the Travel channel, as it happened, Tris says, “It ended up being that they based the whole episode off of me.”
She’s been a working actress ever since.
“I love my job.” Tris laughs, acknowledging that not many people can say that and mean it. “I love the people, the community. We’re all family — it doesn’t matter how far you live. I have close friends in Australia and all across the world. It’s unlike any other field.”
Tris recently worked on “Shakespeare’s Mummy”, an upcoming GreenLitGo feature, and will be playing the character Mrs. Piper.
“It’s a family film,” Tris says, “so I think people of every age will really enjoy it! It’s got mystery, suspense, mummies — it’s comedic, but it’s also dramatic, so I think it appeals to a wide audience. And oh my gosh, Adam — he’s so fun!”
Tris is talking about Adam Boster, director of “Shakespeare’s Mummy”, “He keeps the energy on set so exciting. And his feedback is always great.”
Much like it’s predecessor, “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”, “Shakespeare’s Mummy” is mainly filmed in Missouri. “It’s definitely different than filming in LA or something,” Tris explains, “but I’m always so impressed with the locations the filmmakers find in Missouri. I’m always going to new places and getting to learn more about Missouri that I didn’t know before.”
However, with many of Tris Marie’s acting projects being put on hold due to the pandemic, she’s had to find new ways to scratch her artistic itch. Specifically the app that’s been all the rage with Gen Z: TikTok.
“Do you like my light setup?” Tris asks me over FaceTime. “I actually got it for TikTok.” She laughs, explaining that she has been on the app since November and has amassed a rather large follower count (80k at the time that this was written).
“It’s a good creative outlet! I know a lot of actors on [TikTok],” Tris goes on to say that because of the pandemic, many casting directors have turned online to scout new talent, meaning that for actors like Tris, a viral video could mean landing a role.
“I’ve had a few viral videos, and it’s gotten to the point where I can actually make money from TikTok.” Despite Tris Marie’s online success, she does mention that the app can be a breeding ground for some. . . interesting characters.
“My following is, like, 83% male. It used to be higher.” She laughs and gives me a sly smile before saying, “I even got offered 500 bucks by some guy to sell him a picture of my feet. I didn’t do it, of course! Too weird. Besides, you never know what kind of dirt people will try to dig up on you down the road and I do not want that coming back to bite me.”
Although TikTok has become a fun pastime for Tris, her true love is the cinema.
“I am always watching TV shows and movies. I’m obsessed with learning about the making and production of film,” Tris says with a gleam in her eye, “People always ask me what my hobbies are outside of set and I’m like, outside? Film is my hobby.”
By Julienne Graebner │ September 1, 2020
I had the opportunity to interview actress Jessica Ambuehl, who played Mrs. Smart in “Lost Treasure of Jesse James” and will be seen as the Goddess Isis in the upcoming film “Shakespeare’s Mummy”.
“I first thought I wanted to act as a young teenager, so my parents graciously took me to a local talent agency in St. Louis,” Jessica explains. After being signed to the agency, she took acting and modelling classes, but like any kid, she soon became bored. It wasn’t until her mid-20s that Jessica rekindled her love of performance.
“I was married and had my first child. Since I had a flexible schedule, I thought I would see if the same agency I was with over a decade earlier could use another baby on their roster. While at the audition for my son, I decided to audition, too.” The agency signed her, and Jessica was a working actress once again! Since then, her passion for performance and the film industry has grown exponentially — so has her exposure. Currently, she has representation in six different states, ensuring plenty of audition opportunities.
“I remember the first commercial I did,” Jessica explains that she and her two children appeared in a commercial for Southeast Missouri Hospital, and despite them both being boys, “they dressed my infant in a pink onesie and his name in the commercial was “Maggie”. It’s a fun memory we still talk and joke about today — over ten years later!”
“It was fun to be a part of a scene with lots of kids and enjoyed watching Adam Boster enthusiastically direct with them on set to keep their energy and interest up,” Jessica says about her time on set for “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”, the first of director Adam Boster’s Missouri-based feature films. She was also cast in his upcoming feature film, saying, “I was incredibly grateful for the role of the Goddess Isis in “Shakespeare’s Mummy.” I appreciated the attention to detail in the costume and overall look of the character, which took around one hour to prep each time. It was great to work with such a diverse cast and watch this story come to life.”
Jessica admits she isn’t much like her character, she laughs, saying, “I don’t typically wear a heavy headpiece or summon the dead with my voice.” However, she can relate to Goddess Isis’ deep passion for the one she loves, and her willingness to do anything to be with them, “As a wife for over 20 years and mom of two boys, ages 16 and 11, I would turn the world upside down to make sure we spend time together.
While Jessica’s extensive IMDB page and resume with over 100 projects; commercials, voice-overs, television shows, short and feature length films — she is not just an actress (seriously, her resume is huge. Check it out here). She has also worked behind-the-scenes as a producer, director, casting director, and has even traveled across the world as a photojournalist, so she knows a thing or two about the industry.
“A large issue in the film industry today, especially in the Midwest, is the misconception that talent is lacking in our area,” Jessica explains, “People “flyover” us to get to the larger markets but I look forward to the day when our industry realizes we have so much to offer and stories to tell with excellence.”
Additionally, she cites the pandemic as an especially large obstacle for performers, saying, “Rightfully so, safety is top priority, but I have already experienced as an actor and producer, the extra amount of time, energy, and money it takes to ensure things are done to meet protocols. But, we’re a creative industry so I’m confident we’ll adjust to finding a new way in this “new norm” to share our stories with the world.”
Though many of the short films she has been cast in have been placed on hold due to the pandemic, Jessica has been doing a plethora of self-tape auditions at home. She is also producing a short film called “Vision”, about a teenage artist from St. Louis, which she says highlights “the incredible nonprofit work of LOVEtheLOU, bringing their mission of restoration and reconciliation of North St. Louis to light in narrative form.”
You can check out her performance resume, on-camera reels, photos, and so much more on her website:
In the vein of classic slashers like the “Evil Dead” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, award winning director Ralf Kemper presents “Possession”.
Deep in the woods, friends Damien (Gerrit Reineke), Jane (Corinna Hartmann), Quantal (Sonja Heer), Ivi (Eva Balkenhol), and Paul (Roman Nitz) discover a long-abandoned bunker with a dark secret and a strange man inside. Feeling uneasy, it dawns on the group that this trip has changed them forever, and not for the better. It is only after the group leaves that they realize that the bunker was home to a demon that is now hell-bent on possessing each one of them to find the perfect host.
As the group of friends are gruesomely picked off one by one, it becomes apparent that only the strongest will survive.
Ralf Kemper’s “Possession” is a clear homage to the campy, supernatural slasher genre that ruled the box office in the ‘80s. The usage of quintessential horror tropes like the spooky abandoned building, a vengeful paranormal entity, and ‘death by sex’. Clocking in at just under an hour and a half, this movie is full to the brim with blood and guts.
While “Possession” may feel like a familiar tale, writer and director Ralf Kemper adds his own twists and turns that make the movie feel fresh while still demonstrating a great love to the film’s slasher forefathers.
By Julienne Graebner │ August 27, 2020
I got the chance to interview Sage Buchanan, the multi-talented Missouri actor who plays Montgomery South in “Lost Treasure of Jesse James” and Bruno Moretti in the upcoming film, “Shakespeare’s Mummy”.
“When I was in first grade, I played Abe Lincoln in the school play. My teacher told me it was because I was so handsome and that I held myself like a president should. My mother later told me it was because I was a head taller than everyone else,” Buchanan reminisces, “Either way, I remember that play and I remember prompting others with lines while I was on stage.”
The acting bug bit Sage at a young age, and it bit him hard. He took every opportunity to perform, “Instead of doing oral reports,” he says, “my friends and I would borrow a video camera when we could find one and do our reports by acting them out.”
As a teenager, Buchanan’s time on stage began to wane and he became interested in sports. At the time, he also worked full time at a fireworks store, where he was tasked with doing radio interviews and advertisements, “This started me off at a young age doing voice over work for commercials and even being asked to be the voice of another high school football team in the area — but of course I couldn't do that, as I, too, was playing.”
In college, Sage found any way he could to be creative; singing in the choir, acting, local radio work, commercials, you name it.
“Just found any way I could to perform,” he says.
After college, life got in the way of Buchanan’s love of acting.
“I started work at the world’s oldest tech company and was really busy, but I missed acting. I hadn't done any voice work or acting for several years, and only a handful of commercials. I missed it. I knew I couldn't memorize an entire play with my hectic schedule, so I started looking for any auditions for local independent films.”
He eventually was cast as the villain Montgomery South in Adam Boster’s “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”. Sage was pleased as punch, “I had no clue that the production quality, professionalism, script, crew or director would be as amazing as it was . . . I'm hooked!”
Buchanan also appears in the upcoming film, “Shakespeare’s Mummy” which features many of the same major players as “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”. He speaks highly of his experience working on both movies:
“I have made some amazing lifelong friends on the sets of these movies. I call them my movie family and I really do mean it. When you spend that much time with people, it's easy to become annoyed but most in the group that I worked with on both films really did become amazing friends. We talk regularly, we visit each other when we can, and we have become family.”
“The best times were because of some of the hardest. Freezing in caves on “Lost Treasure” made us bond a LOT. The adults became very protective of the kids,” Sage says, referring to Jaidyn Franz, Qailen Chambers, Riley Sullivan, Noah Billington, and Megan Sims, “they could call any single one of us if they ever needed anything. The adults found ways to joke and laugh things off even though we couldn't feel our toes!”
It hasn’t been all sunshine and daisies, though. In addition to filming for “Shakespeare’s Mummy”, Buchanan was working a full time job. He would work until late in the day, take a quick nap, and film overnight. This went on every day, and on the final night of production, Sage left set and went straight to the airport to board a 36 hour flight to India.
However, for Sage, it’s all worth it.
“I love performing,” he reiterates, “I love the art of it. I love the atmosphere, the camaraderie, being able to assume the role of someone and actually become them. . . I really do just love being able to perform and hopefully, it's a good enough performance that it draws people in, makes them believe they are watching a story unfold — that I'm the person that I'm portraying, not just an actor.”
A staunch supporter of the arts, Sage urges the state government to do the same, saying, “The lack of tax credits in Missouri is causing the film industry to suffer, as well as costing Missourians a lot of money in tax revenue and hospitality losses.”
He goes on to say that this isn’t the only issue facing independent films today, “A huge issue is unique content, which we are finally starting to see again thanks to Netflix and other streaming services opening up and revolutionizing the industry. Hollywood became all about money and less about art, and thanks to indie breakout platforms like greenlitgo.com we are finally starting to see some great stories again.”
When asked who would be interested in watching “Shakespeare’s Mummy” and “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”, Buchanan couldn’t control his excitement, “Who wouldn't love seeing these movies?! They’re 80s style, family friendly, action-adventure movies so it appeals to kids, and parents of that era will enjoy it too.”
When Orson Welles debuted his radio show “The War of the Worlds”, an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel by the same name, many listeners believed that an alien invasion was happening on American soil.
In Nathan Karimi’s short film “4AM”, radio jockey Paul Peterson (Skully Shemwell) pays tribute to Orson Welles’ legendary broadcast by staging his own UFO hoax for a small town in Southern Missouri.
One listener, a man named Bill (Ford Fanter), unfortunately tunes in too late to hear Peterson’s announcement that the following radio show is for entertainment purposes only. As actors in the studio give the performance of their lives portraying phoney doctors (Michael Scott Dunn) and victims of an alien attack (Stephanie Zhong), Bill is riveted by the terrifying notion that extraterrestrials have come to eradicate all human life.
As Bill begins to descend into madness, it becomes clear just how easy it is to fool someone who is willing to believe.
Julienne Graebner │ August 25, 2020
Your script is finally perfect. You scouted your locations. You picked your dream cast. You’re finally ready to make a movie! There’s just one problem — a problem that nearly all independent filmmakers face: you need funding. Without a big Hollywood budget, gathering enough money to make your dream a reality can be daunting. Here are a few ideas to help you raise funds for your indie film.
Pitch your idea to the masses. Websites like Indiegogo or Kickstarter offer filmmakers a way to speak directly to their potential audience without requiring a big budget. However, crowdsourcing websites often take a small percentage of the money you raise.
Here are more options for crowdfunding for your indie film.
2. apply for grants
Though the words “grant writing” strikes fear in the hearts of many, it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of organizations out there willing to fund independent films. All you have to do is ask (well, write a grant). Be sure to look for funds offered in your market, however niche.
3. Get a job to fund your film
You may not be rich, but it could be worthwhile to get a day job in order to fund your hobby, especially if you’re working on a low budget film. This way, you won’t have any investors hounding you for profit (which you might not even make).
4. Get Creative
Throw a party at your house with a $5 cover charge. Have a barbeque contest fundraiser. Use freelancing sites to hone your craft for cash. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Although attempting to raise thousands of dollars for an indie film can be difficult, it can be done. Be aware of the risk that you will be taking on. Fundraising takes time and effort, so don’t be discouraged if you need to push your film back due to lack of funds.
By Julienne Graebner │ August 21, 2020
Few other activities bring together danger, sportsmanship, and hand-to-face combat like mixed martial arts (MMA). Despite the dramatic potential of such a high intensity, skillful sport, it doesn’t seem to have much of a presence in Hollywood. To create an MMA oasis in a barren land, directors Adam Boster and Kenneth Chamitoff present the 2012 film “Money Fight”.
“Money Fight” surrounds young MMA hopeful Johnny (Ernie Reyes Jr.) and his journey to get into the ring. He desperately begs his coach Gene (Ving Rhames) to take a chance and let him fight for a cash prize. Unfortunately, Johnny is told that he isn’t ready and that he should find a real job. Unable to face reality, Johnny agrees to take a seedy muscle job, ending with him serving a stint in prison.
After five long years of being top seed in the prison fighting ring, the warden Harbin Rask (John Savage) grants Johnny parole—as long as he’s willing to participate in a high stakes match against an undefeated fighter in order to settle an age old feud between the warden and his rival, the MMA mogul Krang (George Takei).
Though the chances of Johnny defeating Krang’s chosen fighter, the terrifying Torch (played by Gray Maynard, who is a successful MMA fighter in his own right) seem slim, Johnny is supported by a strong family unit, especially his mother Maria (Maria Conchita Alonso).
While “Money Fight” is based around an extremely specialized sport, you don’t need a great deal of MMA knowledge to enjoy the film. The fight scenes, choreographed by the legendary martial artist Ernie Reyes Sr. (who is both Ernie Reyes Jr.’s father in real life and in the film) are intricate, elaborate, and exciting. Be prepared for elbows to be thrown and chairs to be smashed.
“Money Fight” is first and foremost an MMA movie, but it’s also a tale of redemption and the importance of a family, whether it’s by blood or the family you create on your own. Though the film does have a PG-13 rating, it would be acceptable for families with older children — provided they won’t try out the MMA moves on each other after watching.
By Julienne Graebner │ August 20, 2020
One moment, everything is normal and the next, the world is completely unfamiliar. In Gabe Sheets’ 2018 short film “Fugue”, a man searches for his true identity deep in the seedy underbelly of a sprawling urban landscape.
After being hit by a car, a man (Scott Michael Dunn) wakes up to realize he remembers nothing about who he is—except that he’s on the run. The only person who can tell him who he is, a squirmy sidekick (Richard Louis Ulrich), is completely unhelpful. The only real clues are a briefcase full of cocaine and the multiple IDs with different names on them in the man’s wallet.
High intensity chases are cut with scenes of the man talking to a seemingly unhelpful therapist (Robert Lee Davis) that only serve to further the confusion the audience (and the man) are feeling.
Somehow, director Gabe Sheets managed to pack two hours worth of story into a short film with a runtime of only 30 minutes. The cinematography is impressive—echoing the styles used by directors of box office smash hits.
“Fugue” is a remarkably entertaining piece that leaves the audience dying to solve a puzzle—who really is this man?
By Julienne Graebner │ August 18, 2020