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Two Alexandria teens set to star in indie film

Amanda Richardd and Cody Saurdiff, both graduates of Jefferson High School in Alexandria, will star as the two leads in the upcoming indie rock romance film “Izzie Midnight.” SUBMITTED PHOTO

What’s it like to be a movie star? Amanda Richards and Cody Saurdiff, both graduates of Jefferson High School in Alexandria, will soon find that out, as they are set to star in an indie rock romance titled “Izzie Midnight,” written and directed by Matt Eckholm.

According to Richards, “Izzie Midnight” “follows two stories of lost love and the relationship between a man on a mission to stand up for his own happiness and a torn singer struggling to find out if she has ever known happiness in the first place.”

Assembling the cast

Richards, the daughter of Natalie and Kenny Goodwin of Alexandria and Douglas and Suzy Richards of McCammon, Idaho, will play the movie’s namesake, Izzie Midnight, who is a backup singer and lead guitarist in the movie’s band, Vacant Luxury.

Amanda Richards

Saurdiff, son of Bob Saurdiff and Barb Saurdiff of Alexandria, studies at the University of Minnesota and plans to graduate in 2015.

He will play the male lead, Dorian, a chronic pushover who has been stuck in a rut.

Concerning how she got involved with the project, Richards said, “A friend of a friend of a friend.”

Richards was first asked to help with a voiceover for a different character in “Izzie Midnight.” When recording wrapped, she asked Eckholm if there would be auditions.

Within the next few days, Eckholm arrived at her house with camera gear and microphones. She read some lines and sang songs, and by the next day she had the part.

Saurdiff was open to the film industry after he had the opportunity to meet writer, actor and director Kevin Smith when he was 16.

Smith had given Saurdiff the opportunity to appear in a 20-second scene in the film Smith was shooting at the time, “Cop Out,” starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan.

Embracing the role

“Izzie Midnight” is the second film that Richards has worked on, the first being horror film “Geist,” but she started with stage acting at JHS, participated in Alexandria Area Arts Association production and took part in summer theater programs.

Cody Saurdiff

To get into the role and fully embrace Izzie Midnight, Richards has not only embraced her mentality but has also made physical changes since she was cast a year ago.

“A lot of people think that the character is what the actor makes it, but I feel differently. I think the characters you play only expand who you are as a person.”

She lost 25 pounds, cut off 10½ inches of hair and dyed it red, and added black and denim to her wardrobe.

And the change has caused a variety of reactions from casual observers, not all positive.

“I really think it has made me feel what Izzie feels,” Richards said. “Without Izzie, I’d still be a long-haired brunette from a small town with a decent Minnesota accent. Now, I get to go to work as a punky fire-haired rockstar.”

Reaching the goal

Late last year, Saurdiff and Richards filmed a concept trailer and released the movie’s music album to start raising funds.

“The project really depends on the fans and investors and producers, the people that believe that this film has a worthy enough message to put their trust and time into,” Richards said.

Most recently, Saurdiff and Richards received their cast schedules and will begin filming in January. And they hope that when the movie comes out, it will touch the lives of viewers.

“Not only do we hope the viewer finds themselves enthralled in these two (characters’) juxtaposing lives, we hope they can relate and empathize with the characters,” Richards said.

For more information or to order a copy of the “Izzie Midnight” soundtrack, visit

Jessica Sly

Jessica Sly has been working as a content writer at the Echo Press since May 2012, contributing, proofreading and editing content for both the Echo and Osakis Review. A Wadena native, she graduated from Verndale High School in 2009 and worked that summer at the Wadena Pioneer Journal as an intern reporter. She attended Northwestern College in St. Paul (now the University of Northwestern - St. Paul), where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in writing and a minor in Bible. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the piano (and learning the violin), reading, writing novels, going to the movies, and exploring Alexandria.

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