I had never met Bo Keister until the day we held our auditions in Christiansburg. We didn’t even really know of each other at all until he read a brief mention of the film in The Roanoke Times, and contacted me. As the head of Actors Anonymous in Christiansburg, he wanted to offer up any assistance he could with the project.
The thing is, Bo’s dad Benny Keister was the magistrate for Pulaski County, working alongside my dad back in the days when the script took place. He had just as personal a connection to the material as I did.
We held our auditions at Actors Anonymous, and Bo came in to read for us in the afternoon. When he left the room, I told Vanessa that of everybody that had read for the part, he understood Martin more than anyone. The personal connection that he brought to the part was so strong that it couldn’t be ignored. When you coupled that with his acting experience, and how well he did with the part on camera during the audition, we couldn’t do anything but cast him as Martin.
From the moment that he got the email, Bo was dedicated to the film. He was always available when I had a question, or when members of the local press wanted to talk to the actors. He found us extras when we were afraid we couldn’t get any, not to mention that it was his suggestion that led me to our makeup artist. I can still remember one day, about a week prior to filming, when I was feeling worn down and one thing or another had gone wrong. Bo’s response to my post was, “Don’t worry, the cast has got your back!”
And he was completely right. My cast was amazing. They worked hard, their acting was amazing, and the entire time I felt like we were all partners in this crazy adventure. It was a phenomenal experience, and it could not have happened without Bo.
Photo Courtesy of Katie Neff