"Since it was a story of faith, I decided to take steps of faith, the first was to send a notice to the trades," Rossi explains. His film, entitled, "Aimee Semple McPherson," got printed in the pre-production charts of Hollywood Reporter and Variety, leading to a series of interesting phone calls.
Rance Howard, veteran actor and father of Ron Howard, saw the listing, called Rossi, and told him he was always fascinated by "Sister Aimee McPherson." They met for coffee, Rance gave Richard his acting reel, and Richard cast him as Aimee's father.
The next call came from Kiera Chaplin, granddaughter of Hollywood legend Charlie Chaplin. "My grandfather and Aimee were close friends in the 1920's in Hollywood. He loved her amazing sermons," Kiera explained. Richard auditioned blond-haired, blue-eyed Kiera and cast her as the sexy villain who plots to seduce Aimee's husband and destroy her temple.
Richard took his wife out for dinner to celebrate the progress at the Magic Castle in Hollywood and was seated next to comic and magic legend Carl Ballatine of "McHales's Navy" fame. Figuring things were on a roll, he boldly asked the "Great Ballatine" if he would be in his movie and Carl said, "Call me when you're shooting, I'll be there." (Carl is in a key scene.)
After auditioning over 300 actresses for Aimee, he cast newcomer Mimi Michaels. He met with SAG;s low budget department, and signed the SAG Experimental contract for films with a budget of less than $75,000. A boyhood friend bought him a camera, he purchased $200 worth of lights from Home Depot, and production launched.
The newly finished film has garnered critical raves, was a finalist for Best new film at the CEVMA European festival, and is attracting interested distributers. In addition to writing and directing, Richard plays Aimee's third husband, a vaudevillian who falls for the angelic evangelist.
"We can be proactive and create our own work and career, we don't have to depend on the phone ringing, or an agent getting us work, or a lucky break," Richard says. "Simple, small steps lead to wonderful opportunities. Don't give up on your dreams as actors." www.aimeesemplemcphersonmovie.com