A sneak peek at ‘Homeless for the Holidays’
Published 9:23 am Wednesday, January 31, 2024
By Lance Gaither
“Homeless for the Holidays”, a Christmas comedy film slated for release during this year’s Christmas season, is currently being filmed in Danville. The film stars former professional wrestler and owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling Al Snow who portrays Kentucky Joe. In the film, Kentucky Joe and his other homeless friends witness the death of a wealthy man who lives in a mansion. They hatch a plot to convince the mansion staff that they are the wealthy man’s long-lost relatives and spend the holiday season living in luxury.
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“Like any production, I am making a hundred decisions an hour,” said the film’s writer and director Whit Whitman. “We are on schedule and that is what you want to hear about halfway through filming a movie. On an independent film, you do not have the pleasure of a large budget 30 day production.”
Whitman’s production company, Little Monster Entertainment uses their films as learning experience for both those in front and behind the cameras.
“We do education equity, we are running a school where a film happens to be made,” Whitman said. “The students do classes in the mornings, we want to get everyone up to par so when you see them on camera you are like oh, those are real actors. We are like an acting school on speed.”
Actor John Wells portrays the house butler and acts as the film’s antagonist as he is suspicious of Kentucky Joe and his friends. Wells is the lead instructor for students on set.
“It is exciting working with the students. It is imperative for learning actors to work with more experienced ones. It is how we best learn,” Wells said. “Acting is a very reciprocal team sport. There is a give and take of energy with the cast. The best actors are those who elevate those they work with. The mix is extremely beneficial for the students. It also helps the instructors learn themselves.”
Whitman thinks the mixture of experienced actors and new actors encourages everyone to put forth their best effort.
“Being the writer I always try to make sure an instructor is in the scene with the new actors,” Whitman said. “I used to play college football, it is like the analogy if you see someone benching 400 pounds you realize that you can too. Our instructors are next to them and giving them advice along the way. When we have returning students it is incredible to see how their level of acting improves.”
Wells believes that practical experience is the best way for the actors to learn.
“The best way to learn acting is to do it day to day,” Wells said. “The classroom settings are great but when you get to apply on a real film set is where you test your mettle.”
Wells typically plays serious roles and is enjoying the opportunity to be in a comedy film.
“It is a lot of fun,” Wells said. “I typically play a lot of serious dark and heavy stuff but being able to step into a comedic role is a nice vacation. As an actor, we are explorers of our own personalities and limits. Anytime I get to do something outside of my comfort zone it is exciting.”
One first time actor, Adeline Kelso was nervous at first but is enjoying her experience on set.
“I have always pushed myself to do things I was scared of doing,” Kelso said. “My younger self didn’t believe I would ever be on set. It is a really cool experience. If you want to do something you have to go do it. You don’t know how much time you have left or what tomorrow will bring.”
One of the lead actors in the film, Douglas Vermeeren, is also an executive producer of the film.
“My character is part of the wealthy family that owns the mansion,” Vermeeren said. “My character is kind hearted but an alcoholic and has a struggling relationship with his daughter. As Kentucky Joe and his friends come in, my staff isn’t sure they should be here but I am empathetic to their cause.”
Vermeeren has had a packed schedule and was dubbed “Cinema’s New Bad Boy” by the Hollywood Weekly Magazine.
“I was working on Billy the Kid for Paramount Pictures and then I came here with only one day for a break,” Vermeeren said. “As soon as I am finished here I am going to Las Vegas for a scary movie. The challenge is that you have these big scripts you have to memorize but I have two other scripts floating around in my brain. It is funny this year has been my horror year, I have four big horror films but normally I do action and adventure fans. I play a lot of cops, gunfighters, and that sort of thing. I just came off two cowboy movies and now I am back into contemporary stuff. It is a really interesting costume and mindset change.”
Local actor, Billy Crank, enjoys that his time on set is letting him meet new people.
“Everything is going good so far,” Crank said. “We are shooting 40 days worth of filming in a little over 10 days. Filming is going great and everyone is having a good time. We are having a blast and we are all becoming family in a short amount of time.”
The star of the film, Al Snow, rose to fame as a professional wrestler and was featured in the critically acclaimed Netflix documentary “Wrestlers” released last year. The documentary showcases the challenges Snow faces to keep the Ohio Valley Wrestling Conference in business.
The character Snow portrays in “Homeless for the Holidays” Kentucky Joe, is a former football player with a heart of gold.
“Kentucky Joe suffers from CTE and a little bit of dementia,” Snow said. “He is the leader of the homeless group, he takes care of everybody and makes sure they are protected. Things are going great on set so far. I have been enjoying working with everyone here. We have had some long days but it is a really good time.”
Snow is thankful for the opportunity to teach young actors on set.
“I am happy to help and give them the benefit of some of the experience I have,” Snow said. “I have made some mistakes and I can allow the students here to benefit from that knowledge so they don’t also make those mistakes.”
Whitman and his production company Little Monster Entertainment are local to Kentucky and have several upcoming actor retreats. For more information on the retreats visit littlemonsterentertainment.com.