Indie Memphis Friday: In Green/Is/Gold, Weed is a Family Affair


Friday is when Indie Memphis gets crowded. The festival moves from the Halloran Centre Downtown to Overton Square, adding screens at Studio On The Square, The Circuit Playhouse, and the Hattiloo Theatre.

One standout among the Friday films is Green/Is/Gold, the first feature by director and actor Ryon Baxter. The film follows the story of Mason, played by the director’s actual younger brother Jimmy Baxter, a teenager who we meet moving in with Cameron, his older brother, after his father is sent to jail. But Cameron, as it turns out, is a marijuana farmer, and the two settle into a tense, but functional, relationship. Ryon says the story came from observing the dynamic in his home town. “I was born and raised in Northern California. Since 1996, there’s been this medical marijuana thing in California. It’s really influenced a lot of people’s lives who grew up in California. Everybody here knows somebody, or has a family member or friend, who has been directly or indirectly involved in that trade. I wanted to capture and portray that in an authentic way.””

Actor/director Ryon Baxter tends his crops in Green/Is/Gold.
  • Actor/director Ryon Baxter tends his crops in Green/Is/Gold.

Ryon’s background is as a stage actor, who studied in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater. “I had an interest in writing,” he says. “I wrote a feature screenplay when I was younger, and then I went to this little independent film school called Berkeley Digital Film Institute that was only around for like four years. It was a fully immersive program that taught you all the facets of the filmmaking process. All the instructors were working industry professionals. It was a really helpful program. [Green/Is/Gold] is the project I was working towards the whole time I was there. I wrote several drafts of the script while I was in school for that year and a half, and even shot a proof of concept short. I took out a couple of scenes and shot that, showed it at the school. It allowed me to get into the character and flesh it out a little more.”

Green/Is/Gold spends much of its early running time exploring the world of small-time pot farming through the curious eyes of Mason, so when the brothers are put into the peril of following in their father’s incarcerated footsteps, the tension creeps up slowly to a nail biting intensity. The easy chemistry between the two leads is made possible because they are brothers in real life. “I recognized Jimmy’s talent really early on, and he expressed a desire to act. In film school, I tried to include him in as many projects as possible. He got to get his feet wet on some short films some friends were making, some comedy stuff. I knew he had the talent to deliver something that had a little more depth to it.”

Green/Is/Gold screens at Studio on the Square on Friday, November 4 at 6 PM. Individual tickets and passes to Indie Memphis are available on the Indie Memphis website.

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