Adam Boster: “Don’t tell people how much of an emergency fund you have”

The kids in “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”; Noah Billington, Jaidyn Franz. . . I mentioned Riley and Qailen, both members of the Columbia Boys & Girls Club and I love that I was able to help them realize their dreams of the future. It’s so important to be able to intervene in a kid’s life before […]

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The kids in “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”; Noah Billington, Jaidyn Franz. . . I mentioned Riley and Qailen, both members of the Columbia Boys & Girls Club and I love that I was able to help them realize their dreams of the future. It’s so important to be able to intervene in a kid’s life before they really start heading down the wrong path, to let them know how much potential they have to do something wonderful with their life, and I hope that I was able to do that for them.

As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Boster.

Adam Boster is an award winning Missouri filmmaker who has worked in the industry for over 20 years. He has directed and produced many titles, including “Lost Treasure of Jesse James” and the upcoming “Shakespeare’s Mummy”. He lives in Columbia, Missouri, with his wife Angela and his children, and their cats.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

I don’t want to say “I watched Star Wars and then wanted to get into movies” because I feel like that will be everybody’s answer. . . but that’s what happened. Growing up in rural Missouri, I watched movies like Star Wars, Pete’s Dragon, and West Side Story, and all I could think about was working on movies. Initially, I wanted to be an actor — a triple threat talent — like the ones I grew up so mesmerized by.

I went to college, and there was no film program, so I tried to build one myself. I ended up with a communications major and a minor in theatre, but I had been hand-picking my course schedule to reflect what I really wanted to do: make movies.

After I made my first feature film in college, I moved to LA and worked in the film industry in a plethora of different roles. If a type of crew was acknowledged at the end of the credits, I probably worked on it at some point. I tried to work in every facet of the industry to truly get an understanding of filmmaking. I realized that filmmaking costs a LOT of money, so when I moved back to Missouri, I started my own businesses in order to earn money to fund my filmmaking career. Eventually, I started, a service meant to help independent filmmakers sell their work to an audience.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?

I once had to pick up this guy from the airport — I had only a vague idea of who he was. I had to drive him all through the cow pastures of Kansas. Turns out, that guy was Christopher Walken! It wasn’t until later that I truly grasped what a talented actor he was. I really felt like I missed out on a great conversation with him and wish I had gotten more time to get to know him. I was definitely out of touch with the fact that I was in a car with such an influential, award-winning man.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I remember being on set for “Dazed and Confused”, it was a party scene. I’m standing there manning the keg and all of a sudden, Ben Affleck comes running over and accidentally smacks right into me. We both have this “whoaaa” moment that was just so on brand for the film. On that same set, I also got to work with Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, and Renee Zellweger, none of whom were household names yet.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Right now, I’m in the post production stages of a film called “Shakespeare’s Mummy”. It’s about four kids who find a mummy hand in a pizza box. One thing leads to another and they’re being chased by the hordes of Hell. It’s so much fun getting to work in my native Missouri and offer opportunities for the people who live here.

Additionally, my streaming company GreenLitGo is exclusively for independent filmmakers to show their work. They can put their short or feature length film on GreenLitGo, either for a price or for free, and they have another avenue to get their work out to an audience.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

William Shakespeare, just because of the massive amount of phenomenal stories that he was able to craft have had such a lasting impact on our culture. He created new words that are used every day and stories that have stood the test of time. He was so talented, he could insult the queen right to her face in the middle of a performance and she would be so entertained, instead of beheading him, she would just laugh!

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

After working in LA on these big, blockbuster movies, I wanted to come back to Missouri in order to give back to the artist community. My two most recent films, “Lost Treasure of Jesse James” and “Shakespeare’s Mummy” are filmed entirely in Missouri and 100% of the cast and crew are made up of locals and volunteers. It feels so good to give these people the opportunity to achieve their dreams of working on a movie set or starring in a movie, which they probably would not have gotten to do otherwise.

For example, two of the stars of “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”, Riley Sullivan and Qailen Chambers, were discovered through our local Boys & Girls Club. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to give these kids an opportunity to do something they can feel proud about and help shape their future for the better. They both want to work professionally as actors now!

Additionally, I created, a streaming website entirely devoted to independent films. I know just how difficult it can be for an indie filmmaker to get their work in front of an audience — much less make any money — so filmmakers can submit their work to for free. From there, filmmakers can sell their movie for a price or it can be free to watch. I try to be a mentor for a lot of the filmmakers who put their movies on GreenLitGo. After working in the industry for so long (almost 31 years now) I can help them develop their projects, plan their budget, connect them with useful resources, and even advise them about how to sell their films to distributors.

I want my own movies to succeed, sure. But more than anything I want to see the arts and film community in Missouri and the Midwest really flourish.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

When a kid was beating my head against the pavement in the 4th grade, I realized: the world was not a fair place. Just kidding (kind of). Actually, after 20 years of nearly every independent filmmaker I met telling me stories about losing money on the movies that they had put their heart into — they’d give their film over to a distributor only to never see a profit or any kind of recognition — I knew the system was broken. These amazingly talented people were getting screwed over by the big Hollywood corporations.

When my good friend Ken Chamitoff and I made our film “Money Fight”, we helped fund Fairway Film Alliance, an independent film sales and production company, because we believed in the mission of making the sales process transparent. No deals with shady lawyers who would give inexperienced filmmakers crazy long contracts just to confuse them and crush their dreams. The problem became, without the help of a big film studio, learning how to make films for the right price point and value, so that your movie could actually sell — your movie would actually be bought by an audience.

Then, when I moved back to Missouri, I realized that these kids in the Midwest did not have the same opportunities that I was lucky enough to have while living in LA. I spent the next decade studying: what would sell, how to sell it, and how to implement what I learned to give people who grew up the same way I did, an opportunity to achieve their dreams.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

The kids in “Lost Treasure of Jesse James”; Noah Billington, Jaidyn Franz. . . I mentioned Riley and Qailen, both members of the Columbia Boys & Girls Club and I love that I was able to help them realize their dreams of the future. It’s so important to be able to intervene in a kid’s life before they really start heading down the wrong path, to let them know how much potential they have to do something wonderful with their life, and I hope that I was able to do that for them.

The other leading young lady, Megan Sims, is a perfect example of an extremely talented artist in the Midwest who just needed an opportunity. She’s only 12 years old and she is absolutely phenomenal. She’s got the talent to rival any Disney Channel star. We discovered her when she auditioned for “Lost Treasure of Jesse James” and Megan just blew us away. We knew immediately that she was this character, Hope.

Megan has wanted to be in movies since she was little, and we have been able to give her the building blocks for a promising career without having to go to LA where she could potentially get her spirit crushed by the business before she’s older and confident enough to brush it off. Now, she has not one but two feature films on her plate, quite a feat for someone only in middle school.

And it wasn’t just her, it was 400 other people who worked on the movies. I went on a quest to discover talent. Actors, filmmakers, and cinematographers like Skully Shemwell, Adam Flowers, Sage Buchanan, Kyle Devlin, and Tommy Kramer, my team and I gave them feature films to put on their resume, but we also crafted each of them demo reels (you can watch them on to show to other studios and kick start their career.

It’s not about finding the best talent for myself, just to make my movies better. Sure, it definitely helps, but I know that I’m a stepping stone — a building block — for their careers and I want to make sure they can find continued success.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

People need to support their friend’s art. Even if it’s not through financial means, you can volunteer or share a post. Support the artists in any way you can. In local theatre, everyone volunteers. Local films are a lot like that. . . only it costs a lot more money. They may only be able to pay you in food, headshots, or demo reels.

State government needs to understand that in the film industry, tax credits are king! When it comes to bringing a professional budget film into a non-Hollywood area, state governments need to step up and support the arts by implementing movie production incentives (MPIs). This means more movies will come to film in your state, leading to job creation, tourism attraction, large amounts of revenue, and pride in your state! For example, it’s so frustrating that a show like the Netflix series “Ozark”, which is supposed to take place in Missouri’s Ozark mountains, is actually filmed in Georgia. Not many movies/TV shows are set in Missouri, so it’s frustrating when one finally gets made, it’s not really in Missouri.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • It’s called the film BUSINESS for a reason. If you don’t understand the business side, you can only say you work in the film hobby. Seriously. If you don’t understand how to conduct your filmmaking like a business, you will be hemorrhaging money.
  • Most distributors will never get you a penny back on your film. So many independent filmmakers over the years have told me that distributors always promise them an amazing profit, but less than 1% of the filmmakers I have met have ever made their money back.. Make sure to have your own lawyer read over their contracts. What percentage of the profit do you get? After the studio tacks on erroneous charges and fees, it could (and probably will) be nothing.
  • Every film crew will tell you that if you don’t hire them — your project is doomed to fail. Every editor will tell you that they can fix your movie and that you should pay them a lot to do it.
  • You should always have a 30% emergency fund. You will need it. There’s been times when I’ve been on set only to find out that a piece of my equipment has broken or the caterer didn’t show up, and if you don’t have extra cash set aside, you won’t be able to fix these things and potentially have to push filming back, costing you precious time, or stop filming altogether.
  • Don’t tell people how much of an emergency fund you have. Seriously. Actors know you have an emergency fund. In one of my older films, we were lured into hiring a big name actor that we believed would draw people in to see my movie, blah, blah, blah. He ended up manipulating us out of a lot of money that I didn’t want to spend in the first place AND people weren’t interested in him enough to make him a selling point for the film. A-list actors will use tricks and manipulations trying to take advantage of independent filmmakers.
  • I’m glad no one told me how long it takes, how much of your life it takes, to make a film. It’s not just a job, it will become your whole life. When you’re on set, you’ll be working around the clock without hardly any breaks for a month (or more). Even after filming is over, I stay up every night until 4AM editing, just to make it perfect. But I love it, and I don’t regret a thing.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Art is worth it. It’s worth your time and effort.

In our industry, we have the ability to hurt and heal. We need truly good people in the film industry to put out good messages in the world.

Have heroes that inspire people to be better, make films that inspire people to be their best. Your art has an impact on the world, and if you want to make an impact, make it a positive impact.

We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

  • After my experience with Christopher Walken, I have always wanted to have him in a film. He has such phenomenal and unique charisma.
  • Alan Sylvestri. His ability to craft a theme, a song, into something that evokes a specific emotion has mesmerized me since I was a kid and I didn’t even know it. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized it was him that had written all these movie scores, like Back to the Future and Forrest Gump, that have been so inspiring to me. I listen to his scores when I’m editing my own films, and they always help me set the scene.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“We’re going in full throttle!” That’s actually from “Star Wars”. It’s simple, but I use it all the time and it truly applies to everything I do. I dive headfirst into all my projects and give it my all every time.

How can our readers follow you online?

Adam Boster IMDB

Shakespeare’s Mummy (Upcoming Film)

Lost Treasure of Jesse James, watch it on GreenLitGo

GreenLitGo Facebook

GreenLitGo Instagram

GreenLitGo Twitter

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!

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