With the smell of popcorn in the air, a black stretch limo arrived at 6:36 p.m. Monday outside of the GQT Forum 8 theater. Guests, actors and a sharply dressed dog stepped onto the red carpet for a private screening of “Lost Treasure of Jesse James.”
The film was shot entirely in mid-Missouri and stars two members of the Columbia Boys & Girls Clubs. Adam Boster, the director, described it as an “’80s-style kid’s adventure.”
“Think ‘Goonies’ meets ‘National Treasure’ with some ‘Dukes of Hazzard,’” he said.
Qailen Chambers, 12, and Riley Sullivan, 12, played the two main characters, a pair of best friends whose families face eviction from their childhood farms and must search for old treasure to save them.
“While revealing antique skeletons, mysteries and historical puzzles, the gang fights to evade their predators with paintball guns, racing horses and exploding barns,” according to a synopsis on the film’s website.
Qailen, who played the character Jackson Ford, said he never saw acting in his future until one day after playing basketball at the Boys & Girls Club.
“One of the staff got boys ages 11 through 12 and brought them into the team room,” Qailen said. “So I told my mom about it, and she said I could do it.”
Riley, who played Doniphan James, said he wanted to be a marine biologist. But after auditioning for and acting in the film, he said he hopes to continue acting.
Riley said meeting and spending time with Qailen and the rest of the cast and crew was the best part. While the two boys had never been friends, they became close over the course of filming.
Qailen and Riley also got to travel all over the state together.
“When we were in Crystal City, we had PlayStations there in the cave because there were outlets, so we got to play video games while we were on set,” Qailen said.
Boster, who was also the evening’s emcee, welcomed people to the event while interacting with guests behind the velvet rope. As the cast and crew arrived and walked the red carpet, Boster told stories from production and talked about each person’s role.
“Look at this sharp kid. He was this big when I met him. Look at him now,” Boster said of Qailen, gesturing to a foot below his actual height, getting a burst of laughter from the audience.
Boster described the film’s leads as cute kids but called Navarre, a 5-year-old German malinois, the most adorable cast member.
Boster said he expected the theater to be packed, and the private screenings, which continue tomorrow, are projected to host over 1,000 patrons in total. About 85 people showed up to the red carpet.
The movie was filmed with the help of tourism partners and local government representatives in mid-Missouri, according to an email from the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The private screening continues tomorrow night, and seats are still available online.
Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart.