Big names join in to help Mississippi youth complete indie movie

Published 6:15 pm Saturday, February 25, 2023

Bart Johnson (High School Musical) and David Payton (WandaVision) are officially attached to the forthcoming feature The Company Called Glitch That Nobody and Everybody Wanted helmed by 18-year-old Graham Holliday. Holliday is one of the youngest SAG-AFTRA signatory producers ever by single-handedly producing the indie feature during the Covid-19 pandemic with zero industry experience or contacts when he was 18.

The business dramatic thriller chronicles a fictional Silicon Valley startup faced with a buyout offer that seems too good to be true, but it’s told using an innovative single-day, triple-flashback structure that turns the straightforward story into an enigmatic mind puzzle. Johnson, known for his role as Coach Bolton, father of Zac Efron’s Troy Bolton in Disney’s High School Musical films, plays a venture capitalist involved in the proceedings, while Payton, from Marvel’s first Disney+ series WandaVision, plays a professor from the protagonist’s past. The film also features Jack Murillo (SEAL Team), Elizabeth Bond (Grey’s Anatomy), Lee Shorten (Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle), James Fahselt (Apple’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever), and Lenita Harris (Netflix’s Project Power).

Neither Johnson nor Payton had previous connections to Holliday, who first contacted them through cold-calling their agents. Other than his family’s encouragement and willingness to serve as crew, Holliday took on the required insurance, union payroll, Covid-19 protocols, and complex paperwork alone. SAG-AFTRA student productions under 35 minutes have a simplified signatory process, but since Holliday wasn’t in film school at the time of production during spring 2021 and his film was a full-fledged feature, he had to tackle the entire application process for an ultra low budget SAG-AFTRA production. “Producing this film as an 18-year-old from Mississippi with no industry experience or contacts has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Holliday, now 20. “But the challenges were so worth it, and getting to work with actors like Bart and Lee was so thrilling. I can’t wait for the world to see what we concocted”.

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Since age is not required for SAG-AFTRA signatory status, there is no information on file as to who is the youngest producer to be a signatory with the union, but Holliday’s closest competitors come from an industry background such as the case of Guinness record holder Marsai Martin (Little). For post-production, Holliday collaborated on the score, color grade, and sound design with fellow students at the Zaki Gordon Cinematic Arts Center in Lynchburg, VA, when he entered the undergraduate program after production. The completed film, clocking in at 114 minutes, is gearing up for a festival run. Johnson is repped by INSURGE-Ent, Payton is repped by Affirmative Entertainment and Brevard Talent Group, while Holliday is unrepped.