Joseph Stam is back in his third film with Cross Purposes Productions. Having taken almost no break at all from playing two leading roles and co-writing an award-winning feature film all within the last 27 months, Joseph has jumped into “Royal Ashes” in his most complicated role to date. You may have seen Joseph in his acclaimed role as Finch in the popular feature film, “Found.” or you may have seen him in his heart-breaking portrayal of Jamie, a cancer stricken teen in “Cross Purposes”. This time around he’s playing Kevin Royal, the second oldest boy in the family. Kevin is sensitive, compassionate, loyal and caring; the heart of the Royal family and he has autism.
Taking on the role of a character who has autism is something Joseph took very seriously. It required a great deal of research and care to create a character that needed to be more than the sum of his parts. “Autism can’t define him,” Joseph explained, “Kevin has to be a real three-dimensional person with complex motivations and emotions all his own.” Those who Joseph spoke with in preparing for the role said they wanted see more than an actor who mimicked their behaviors. So it became Joseph’s mission to ensure that Kevin isn’t autistic. He’s Kevin, an individual who has autism. There is a huge difference.
It was an intense role that required a great deal of focus on set. “Royal Ashes” writer, David Alford explains, “Even though Kevin is often in the thick of the action with his brothers, he perceives the world in a slightly different way than them and it was important that we attempt to give the audience a chance to understand that. In one scene, we see Kevin struggling with the question of why God made him the way he is. It is powerfully moving and validating, but it was a hard scene to get through. There wasn’t a dry eye on the set.”
As demanding as Kevin was to play, Joseph’s most challenging role was really that of Co-Director. “Royal Ashes” is his first project co-directing a feature film. There is a tremendous amount of responsibility for a director of a project this size and although Joseph had directed the short film, “Sophia” earlier in the year, there is little to prepare a person for the long hours and thousands of decisions about hundreds of camera shots that have to be made on set. Despite the challenges of being behind the camera and staying in character on camera, Joseph loves working on projects like these and can’t wait to do it again. Making movies is his passion and he loves it!