In 2019, a small Virginia film group that would later become Cross Purposes Productions sent out a casting call for a teenage male to play the lead in its first short film. The role was that of Jamie, a cancer stricken sixteen-year-old destined to live out his remaining days on a hospital ward. A sixteen-year-old boy named Joseph Stam landed the role. The next year he would take on a lead in a CPP feature film entitled “Found.” which would go on to be seen globally by millions. Since that time the sixteen-year-old has grown up and taken on more responsibility than your average teen. He co-wrote some scenes for “Found.” and co-directed his first feature film, “Royal Ashes” which was released at the end of 2022.
Now after having made 20 trips around the sun, he’s back to work taking on writing, directing, and lead acting in CPP’s newest project “Searching for the Elephant” now in pre-production. So what’s changed? Everything. Co-writer and Co-director, David Alford explains, “There is a confidence that comes with having three award winning films under your belt. Joseph knows more now what he wants to do and who he wants to be as a filmmaker. He’s always been talented and a joy to have around. Now he’s more of a presence, his input is much more measured and reasoned and his opinions are so much more educated and impactful.”
Joseph is playing Jason Bowden, a troubled young man with an addiction problem and a loner on the streets of the neighborhood where he has grown up. He has built up huge walls around himself pushing everyone away, and now he is forced to live alone on a ranch with his estranged grandfather, a hermit played by veteran actor, Rick McVey.
This is new territory for Stam whose career up to this point has been marked by sympathetic and endearing youthful characters that have suffered through trials in a turbulent world. Jason’s pains are largely self-inflicted in this story. In many ways he is his own worst enemy. So, what’s it like changing steams and playing a dark horse this time around? Joseph explains, “It’s exciting for people to see me in a whole different way. And being able to test my range. It’s rewarding to take a character that so many would write-off at first sight and break him down into his humanity and find so much more there inside him than anyone including me expected.” This role is taking him new places as Joseph has been researching addiction and the detox experience in order to due justice to the character.
“Searching for the Elephant” is scheduled to be shot this July in and around Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. You can follow the process on Facebook (Searching For The Elephant) or Instagram (@searchingfortheelephantmovie). Or come back here for the latest news and cast announcements.