Up on High Ground

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Up on High Ground
Up On High Ground poster.jpg
Psychological, pathological, and a pretty typical day of students who make this school of no fools and broken rules.
Directed by Bryan Kreutz
Tommy Callahan
Produced by Bryan Kreutz
Joe McGettigan
Brayden Patterson
Lec Zorn
Brianna Langford
Stacey Nation
Written by Bryan Kreutz
Lec Zorn
Joanna Ferbrache
Tommy Callahan
Emma Jane Mitchell
Starring Brayden Patterson
Cody Jarvis
Rylee Cravens
Billy Ingoldsby
Erin Morris
Sydney Thomas
Matthew Becker
Molly Cravens
Music by Matt Griffin, Scott Paul Lewis
Cinematography Mike Frolos, Igor Stevanovic, Dwayne Simmons, Aaron Basham, Tony Barsanti
Editing by Dale Ward, Jim Pruett, James Burke, Aaron Basham, Justice Simpson
Distributed by Pure Flix, The CW
Release date(s) October 25, 2014–October 26, 2015
Running time 28 min. (Per Episode)
Country USA
Language English
Budget $10,000 (estimated)
Official website
IMDb profile

Up on High Ground is an American family drama, syndicated television series, directed by Tommy Callahan and Bryan Kreutz. The half hour weekly episodic series was originally aired in syndication on The CW television affiliates and Pure Flix from October 25, 2014 to October 26, 2015, and was distributed by Pure Flix with Brayden Patterson Productions LLC. The Christian lead character and many characters of the series were committed to using modern day biblical principals throughout the show, comprising nine television episodes, while being produced in the United States of America.


Plot and setting

A college psychology student is tested daily with his roommates, one in friendship, and the other on patience as a third wheel freeloader friend of sorts. Dillon and his roommate Landon are majoring their college courses in applied developmental psychology: variability in teacher-student interactions at East Valley Academy High School

Dillon, a fairly good guy who pictures himself a role model, a leader - being Christlike, must deal with his unemployed roommate crashing on the couch, and being more than just a neighborly influence to his neighbor Jaris, a widowed, pregnant, mother of three children. An ongoing high school feud of girl foes is at the top of Dillon and Landon’s psychology matters, as the two influence their students to try and convert their principal leader from Buddhism to Christianity.Set at the fictional East Valley Academy High School near the city and in suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, and Illinois, it follows the emotional travails of three roommates, two of them, Dillon and Landon, interning for college courses in psychology, studying student teacher interactions of several teenagers. The story arc parallels with a neighborly community, centered around roommates Dillon, Landon, and Bogroe. These roommates at both the school and around their apartment homes are connected to an entourage of teens, mainly two student rivals, in the social circle of main teen characters Savannah Swanson, played by Rylee Cravens and Erin O'Byrne played by Erin Morris.

History and Production

Originally, Up on High Ground was a product of BK Studios as created by Bryan Kreutz in a first draft series proposal, dated February 2013. Before it was a TV series in 2013, Bryan Kreutz, Brayden Patterson and Joe McGettigan were meeting several times a week and on weekends while in Pre-production to carefully comb through characters, scripts already written, and available crew members to build the full production in the St. Louis, Missouri area. After the first three aforementioned scripts, that were filmed in reverse production order weren't getting any networks to bite via Kreutz and Patterson's agent, other duties to get the pilot script officially under a Copyright by the Library of Congress office in Washington D.C. were being carried out.

Beginning with a single pilot episode, "Friends, Family, and Freeloaders", filming began in August 2013, using three separate episode scripts, filmed in reverse production order, starting first with "Fued of Friends and Foes", "Friends, Family, and Freeloaders, Part 2", then filming "Friends, Family, and Freeloaders" last. Director Thomas Callahan recommended filming the three scripts in reverse production order to get chemistry created and on-screen characters down pat by the time the actual pilot would be up and presented to networks as the best work from the cast. Up on High Ground was not placed on the schedule of television affiliates on The CW network until a second pilot episode, to precede the original titled "Superiority of the High and Mighty Kind-ness", was produced in 2014. The second pilot was written solely by Joanna Ferbrache, then a co-writer credit was added for Bryan Kreutz for two scenes re-added from the original pilot. One scene is a crucial Mr. Stu Charles classroom scene from the original pilot, blended into Ferbrache's script. Ferbrache's script originally included more students and much of the scene Kreutz wrote already from the original pilot, however the footage taped already from the original pilot was added before and after Ferbrache's script to compliment it.

Up on High Ground officially went into production on August 31, 2013 and ran for one season until it was canceled in the fall of 2015. The series originally aired in TV syndication on affiliates of The CW and Pure Flix from October 25, 2014, to October 26, 2015. Up on High Ground was distributed by Pure Flix with parent production company Brayden Patterson Productions. In association with BK Studios.

Once IAMFlix, later Pure Flix signed the series to distribute and The CW network affiliates fell inline together as it's main distributors, the series would be required to write and produce a new full pilot episode to precede the original, containing more main character back-story and establishment. In a very short period of time within the spring of 2014 Kreutz and McGettigan interviewed several people for the marketing and public relations crew as they wanted to increase visibility locally and eventually into the East cost. This was achieved as the show would begin airing in the fall on several affiliates in Missouri and Pennsylvania to begin. Bryan Kreutz has personally said on record that "Joanna Ferbrache saved this would be series and if it wasn't for her new pilot script and her zeal of great energy and enthusiasm in pursuit of this TV series objective, we may of never been able to air the would be series."

Joanna Ferbrache was originally hired by Kreutz and McGettigan as crew performing the marketing and public relations, but would also deliver the infamous pilot script and co-write the second script to propel the series off the ground in 2014.

Production

Behind the camera while on set with the college psychology roommates Landon (Left) and Dillon (Right)

Production of Up on High Ground took place from August 2013 until 2014, when the production was shopped around by series creators Bryan Kreutz and Brayden Patterson's agent Mandi Morris. Once the series landed on the aforementioned network and streaming services, production continued in the late summer of 2014 which took the franchise from now four produced and ready to air episodes in the can, to a script ready to produce for episode five titled "The Quintessence of a Situation". The remaining episodes six, seven, eight, and nine, were all produced sequentially and uninterrupted until the series was canceled in the fall of 2015.

The series was primarily shot with a single Canon HD camera, at times with dual cameras. The crew includes Emmy Award-winning editor Dale Ward, and Bryan Kreutz who has directed over 60 TV episodes, including two TV talk shows, his first being Revolution 618. Aside from one scene written by Emma Jane Mitchell, and the two pilot episodes, original and 2nd episode, co-written by Joanna Ferbrache, All 9 episodes were pinned from the collaborative script writing of Lec Zorn and Bryan Kreutz. With the exception of episode 4 which was also co-written by Thomas Callahan. On set production ceased for the series in October 2015.

Episode availability licenses

Amazon Prime Video took the rights of the pilot episode 1 "Superiority of the High and Mighty Kind-ness" in 2017. Later in spring 2019, episode 2 "Friends, Family, and Freeloaders", episode 3 "Friends, Family, and Freeloaders, part 2" and episode 4 "Fued of Friends and Foes" were made available on Amazon Prime. As of May 2020, all nine episodes in the complete series are available on Roku channel Detaron TV.

Older licenses for previously aired episodes are no longer available on television after their syndicated run on the CW TV affiliates and on Video-on-demand with Pure Flix. Several scripts and material belong to numerous companies. Plans to have the entire series available on a streaming platform going forward were discussed heavily by the production companies and teams after the series run, but it took until 2019 to have availability on Amazon Prime, then 2020 to be on RoKu.

Broadcast and home media

The first and only season consisted of nine episodes, the first eight episodes a half-hour-long, and the ninth and final episode at one-hour-long. The episodes which were released worldwide on Pure Flix Entertainment on October 25, 2014 had the first three episodes available on this date, then subsequent episodes available throughout its run.

First-run syndication

The half hour episode series was released in the United States airing on numerous Television affiliates of The CW in the Midwest and East Coast of the United States. With other CW affiliates airing all 9 episodes, only 1 episode aired on the KPLR-TV CW Affiliate in St. Louis, Missouri, where the entire series was taped, due to a new closed captioning rule. 

Casting and Character development

Erin Morris plays one of the more notable teen students in this entourage of characters as the red haired girl Erin O'Byrne

This series marks the third time that Brayden Patterson, Joe McGettigan, Neil McDonald, Bryan Kreutz and Erin Morris have worked together alongside sisters Rylee and Molly Cravens. The first was the 2013 Indie Fest USA qualifying short film, To Inflict, and the second was the feature film Hercules: The Brave and the Bold.

Savannah Swanson was based on creator Kreutz’s blonde haired popular girl classmates, Carrie Spooner and Jill Gant, who spent all of middle school and high school together. Rylee Cravens who played Savannah was meant to have a haughty, big attitude as the most popular girl and rival the class smart girl Erin. Kreutz, who worked closely with Cravens in two previous films, knew she would be the perfect fit to play this lead girl role without an audition, stating “She was your A-typical American popular girl and that's what we cast her for”.

Additionally the character Erin was based on Kreutz best friend's short-lived girlfriend. This girlfriend, was a classmate of Kreutz, whom at the time in high school, like the character, had very deep curly red hair and smarts.

The character of Bogroe was not part of the original concept for the show. Creators Kreutz and Patterson had an original script and storyboard to include only Dillon and Landon, who were based upon the real lives of Off-the-cuff comedy between then roommates Brayden Patterson and Byron L. Wilson. However, Crystal Richardson, a future guest star working with Kreutz suggested a third freeloading character be placed in the cast to be the recipient of the butt end of jokes. Richardson suggested to Kreutz to have this third wheel roommate be written as combinations of the Dimwitted character Cole Brown and also "Tommy" Strawn, both were two of Martin Payne's three best friends on the 1990's comedy Martin (TV series). Bogroe's crashing on the couch as a temporarily-permanent fixture comes under scrutiny with his apparent mysterious unemployment status. This was a running gag throughout the show until his D-Jay gig is discovered in the finale, which was also written in closely paralleling the Martin best friends.

Joe McGettigan, the supervising Producer on this new series "Up on High Ground" brought in a production assistant who would eventually play the role of Bogroe on the second day of taping, which coincidentally was being filmed at McGettigan's former house now turned a set in the Dutch town district of St. Louis. Billy Patricks, this production assistant turned main character, proved his improv skills and quick script retention to be invaluable in a late pinch. When production began after weeks of delays, the actor who was originally going to play Bogroe didn’t show up to the location set on call time, thus he was fired even though not under a contract yet. The role was immediately given to Patricks and he assumed the role for the entire series without an audition. The creators were "blown away" both by his acting ability and demeanor in playing a down and out un-employed freeloader.

Script reading by the the student cast members while on the classroom set. Malissa Williams (Left), Erin Morris (Left center), Matthew Becker (Right Center), and Rylee Cravens (Right)

The first three table readings of the pilot script were notable because the producers had another actor playing Bogroe and Byron L. Wilson playing Landon, which affected main cast chemistry when one was fired and then Wilson having to leave because of family obligations. Essentially Producers never heard main cast members Billy Patricks or Cody Jarvis read lines because they were cast without auditions after the first three table readings occurred and the series was practically into production.

The producers of Up on High Ground selected Matthew Becker as the first casting choice for main cast roles upon completing the first three episode scripts in pre-production. Along with Becker, Erin Morris had previously worked together with most of the producers on an Independent feature film as well in St. Louis. Hours after Becker was asked to play Griffin, Morris was asked to play the rival classmate to Savannah and kept her real first name for the role, Erin.

Casting the main teacher Mr. Neil Rowley was played by Neil McDonald, whom is the most senior teacher at the school (East Valley Academy). McDonald previously played in several productions and a TV commercial with Bryan Kreutz.

Characters summary

"Main characters"

Dillon Magnum. Played by Brayden Patterson. An early 20's college student who's neighborly, open-minded, athletic as a track champion. He shares the rent with Landon Lofton who's also taking practically the same college courses with him. His other roommate, a friend from high school named Bogroe, stays with him as a freeloader who's sleeping on te couch. Dillon takes responsibility and stands up for Bogroe knowing his old friend has fallen on hard times. A student of Saint Louis university, majoring in psychology along with Landon they are finishing up taking College Prep Classes at a local high school, East Valley Academy. Landon regularly gets opportunities to do the right thing (or not) and follow Christian principles, such as the biblical principal "Love thy neighbor as thyself." The Dillon character develops a friendship with the Sundin family as he goes out of his way to assist the mother, A widow with three kids.His girlfriend is Veronika Earney.

Landon Lofton. Played by Cody Jarvis. The original of the two roommates with Dillon, and, as a Christian, is really intent, with the help of Dillon, to convert their down and out roommate Bogroe from being a walking advertisement for welfare into a straightforward, taxpaying good man, and Christ believer. Landon frequently brings up Christianity to their former high school principal, whom they also do student teacher courses under this principal's tenure. Landon shows a heightened animosity towards Bogroe and his laziness of hogging the couch and by forcing him to apply for 10 jobs a week with e-mail confirmations sent. Often a fun guy to watch an anime or a play a basketball game 1-on-1, he helps coach his high school freshman neighbor Griffin, often meeting with him on the courts and afterwards for talks on strategy. His girlfriend, Tara Giordano, is referred to multiple times but only seen once.

Rylee Cravens stars as the school's popular student, Savannah Swanson

Savannah Swanson. Played by Rylee Cravens. A blonde, High School Sophomore. Savannah is the most popular girl at the high school East Valley Academy and a riled up gossip girl.Savannah lives the luxury life in the Upper East Side of the burbs with her dad and freshman sister Thea. When with her friends, notably Sydney or Teagan, she points out others downfalls or creates rumor starting stories to their achievements to make them appear as superficial achievements. Typically her arguments, rumors, or frustration is toward student rivals Erin, Miri, or less popular girls who have gained a certain importance she feels is infringing on her as the main focal point of attention. Ms. Fritz meets Savannah in the teachers lounge and essentially treats Savannah as the teacher's pet giving her the requirements on what the judges will be looking for to make the madrigal show choir squad. There is a rumor going around school with some students that a show choir is being formed and Savannah divulges the information to a known nerd Miri, who is friends with Erin O'Byrne that Savannah tries to deceitfully encourage the two to try out, ultimately to make a fool out of them during the auditions. Her boyfriend is Shane and her best friend is Sydney. Savannah has that red dress effect, often wearing one that makes her pop out as the beautiful girl moving into womanhood. The red summer dress effect she's wearing so often, is essentially a putative phenomenon in which the teen sophomore is perceived to be more alluring than when than when she's wearing other more conservative clothing or colors. According to Erin, Savannah dressed like a stripper to impress Shane one time, showing a possible expansion of a love triangle outside of Savannah with Shane and Shane with Londyn. Savannah fequently speaks her guy troubles to Sydney who are both inseparable even to the point where the two have no regard for the teachers lesson in class to move and talk all class long next to each other while also openly tormenting Erin O'Byrne.

Bartholomew Bogroe. Played by Billy Patricks. An early 20's couch crashing freeloader, living as the third wheel roommate with Dillon and Landon for no payment and, as such, is really cashing in on a side gig as a Deejay. Dillon and Landon question neighbor Brody about Bogroe's unusual behavior and coy smiles when Landon continues to see online Job applications filtering to his inbox as a copy when Bogroe applies. Bogroe has an ongoing feud of words with sassy neighbor Hayley who follows him to discover he has been storing music equipment for Deejay gigs. Brody, who knows more than Bogroe's roommates about his side gig, ultimately is one of the two neighbors who divulge Bogroe's secret life much to his demise of his hopes to live at the apartment for free. Bogroe's girlfriend is the beautiful Asian cook and model Gemma Qiao.

Erin O'Byrne. Played by Erin Morris. High School Sophomore, and a integral part of the state finalist show choir team. Erin is an introverted, super smart redhead, and much to the chagrin of her class rival Savannah, she is the president of the school's drama department. The immense fecundity of her imagination on ways she and Miri play Savannah a fool, make a profound impact on Savannah, progressively to changing her mind into an eventual acceptance by the rival classmate. Evident by very vocal and seemingly subtle class notes and harsh looks at each other, Erin and Savannah are singled out by Mrs. Hialeah. The two girls must stand front and center in psychology class as do not do examples, and are assigned an ongoing cooperative project to meet outside of school and complete it together. Revealing she was accepted into the prestigious Abbey School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland to friends, a confrontation of sorts ensues about her gifts from God when Savannah throws her out of her house when the two are finishing their required joint school cooperative project together. Erin mentions to her best friend Miri that her in-school restraining order with rival Savannah shouldn't restrict her from participating in a new school show choir. She is seen hanging around Griffin Sundin playing basketball and quickly gets swept away by his charm. Erin develops a quick crush on her younger, freshman classmate, Griffin Sundin, as the two eventually become a very stable couple. The new couple are boldly found making out in the library by Principal Guidry while Griffin is supposed to be in detention, but they play it cool when caught. Erin is noticeably close to her college aged sister Jayda who's practically a spitting image of Erin herself and teaches her lessons on letting lesser under-aged lower-classmates gossip be meaningless. Erin gives a very facetious and reassuring nod to Miri's story of Londyn spearheading a supportive facade laced with a manipulative video taped guy fling between Erin and Savannah's boyfriend Shane, to steal a man away from Savannah.

A couple of forevers- Erin O'Byrne with her boyfriend Griffin from the episode "Gone, but not Forgotten" of the syndicated TV Family Drama "Up on High Ground".

Griffin Sundin. Played by Matthew Becker. Griffin Sundin is a show choir singer, talented dancer, and basketball player who gets private lessons from East Valley High varsity coach Landon Lofton during his high school freshmen year. Griffin lives in an apartment across from Landon and Dillon with his Mother Jaris and sisters Hayley and Roxy. Griffin has a twin sister, Hayley Sundin. Griffin is best friends with Khalil, a classmate in a higher grade level at the local high school. His girlfriend Erin is one year ahead of him in school although they are about the same age, boldly he is found making out with his new girlfriend while in detention by Principal Guidry and plays it cool when caught.In the next to last episode, Griffin proclaims his love for Erin, knowing she is leaving for acting school in Ireland for the upcoming summer break. Griffin mentions to Dillon that East Valley Academy recently retired his father’s Basketball Jersey number, the son of the late Johan Sundin, a Swedish basketball league great in the Ligan, meaning simply the “League” in Sweden. He quickly swept away his girlfriend Erin O'Byrne, but is noticeably down and out when she tells him officially she'll be back for summer break to be with him after getting accepted to the Abby school of acting in Ireland, placing their openly romantic relationship on hold.

Students at East Valley academy, the Sundin twins. These birth-bound two souls, so closely allied, yet so different

Sydney Ashdown. Played by Sydney Thomas. A "solo-pianist-singer”, a bit of an american desi girl, but will avoid being called it in place of being known as a keratin treatment idea she once capitalizes on from her former friend Londyn. Sydney has an amazing, unique and sweet personality when she wants to, but is prone to fall into the rich, backup her bestie at all costs high school girl, prone to sarcastic remarks. She comes prepared to talk to her best friend Savannah Swanson during class even while teachers are giving a lesson. Sydney is seen talking through the entire class on the phone and face to face with friends, even telling the teacher "why are you teaching during my conversation" when confronted by Mrs. Hialeah. Sydney often goes by the nickname Syd, especially by the students she is surrounded by. She and her best friend Savannah are always hanging around guys or sipping coffee at a local café, during, before, and after school. Sydney, is instrumental, literally, in the first year school madrigal show choir making it to finals as a pianist and vocalist. She takes the advice of rival student Londyn Downey, to get Keratin treatments at a high end salon when her close friend Teagan Janney, meets up with her. Teagan mentions she is surprised the two aren't meeting up with Savannah and Thea at Starskie's, Sydney states "No..No.. Savannah needs time to reflect, she's thinking about Shane non-stop." Jake, Sydney's current boyfriend, indicates the two have been going out for a while, reminding her its been 8 months when she mistakenly said it was 6 months late in the series. Sydney mentions Jake's parents offered her a job as a solo-artist singer under a small record label in Seattle upon graduation. Jake makes a heartfelt move to solidify his relationship with Sydney by surprising her with a promise ring. Sydney is very happy by the sweet gesture and accepts the ring with a kiss for Jake. Later, when talking with Savannah, she reveals that she is torn between having feelings for Jake and Landon, a college psychology student teaching and observing at her school.

Hayley Sundin. Played by Molly Cravens. 15-year-old "verbally-vivacious" Freshman girl at East Valley Academy high school. She has a twin brother, Griffin Sundin whom she often places blame for everything towards. Her infamous catchphrase is a very sarcastic and distinctive phrase ("Do we have to start like this") that she normally says after a rude or snide comment. Her father, a Swedish professional basketball player died at a young age and she relies upon her single mother and neighbor Dillon for parental influences. Among three children of a widowed mom, she appears to be affected the most in grieving for her deceased father when dreaming of past memories that have a profound outcome. She is in the East Valley Academy show choir after a strong solo singing performance for the try out auditions, but is noticeably gone when a Laryngitis epidemic forces several students to miss the State finals competition. She's a cute natural blonde and knows it with her own confidence and attitude when she tells Bogroe "But I'm cute duh! I can walk whenever I wan't! You're not the man of the house, Landon and Dillon are."

"Supporting characters"

East valley academy the high school and classrooms were where much of the series took place is where almost all of the supporting characters were present in the setting.

Neil Rowley. Played by Neil McDonald. Mr. Neil Rowley, who goes by Mr. Neil, is a science teacher and newly appointed school board member.By default, not by choice, Mr. Neil has been volunteered to work double tasks at East Valley Academy School by new Principal Guidry due to budget cuts. He is mentioned as being the most senior teacher at East Valley Academy school when his close friend and teacher Mr. Stu Charles is dismissed from school for a scandal. Close friends with Mrs. Hialeah, whom he fondly calls "Hi", Mr. Neil is reluctantly insistent to stay out of the scandal with Mr. Stu Charles after a long conversation with Mrs. Hialeah. His son, Mac, who was the first ever valedictorian at East Valley academy, speaks positively of his father as he addresses the current graduating class during the final scene of the series.

Thea Swanson. Played by Jessica Jordan. Thea is the younger blonde Swanson sister and a freshman at East Valley Academy School. She's noticeably close with her sophomore sister Savannah and friend Sydney. Even though she's younger she's not a tag along, but contributes to the plans of her sister and her friends in addition to her own set of friends. Her best friend is Hayley Sundin, with whom she is seen with often at the Sundin apartment preparing to play some video games or snooping around. Although she is popular and well liked she has a quiet side and, uncharacteristically for a popular girl, she likes Star Trek. She often wears a Star Trek pendant and is seen wearing a themed T-shirt when getting ready before school. She sings a solo during the state show choir competition and is only one of six remaining East Valley students left after a laryngitis outbreak shorthand's the choir squad. Thea is one of the most expert dancers as she is seen on the high school stage performing her dance moves effortlessly throughout the series.

Miri Cyanne. Played by Malissa Williams. Miri is the freckle-faced girl next door, (Although she often covers them with makeup). She portrays herself as a cool geek. Sophomore, 16, shy at times, open-minded, strong willed, she is extrovert but in her own eloquently straightforward way. She is a member of the new show choir team. Her best friend is Erin O'Byrne, whom she is seen with or talking about in nearly every scene she is present in. Her dad often sends her YouTube videos as she goes about her day, though she is interested in them she appears annoyed the first time she mentions it to Savannah. Very confident in herself, Miri states to Savannah when asking about a possible tryout for show choir "if you want something you have to go for it". Miri Cyanne perfectly complemented her bestie Erin for both having their good looks but also smarts and offbeat way about carrying out a masterful adolescent agenda on occasion together.

Principal Guidry. Played by Joe McGettigan. Principal at East Valley Academy High School and openly a practicing Buddhist.A new principal taking over for a formerly failing regime on the school board, Guidry added his own group of teachers to act as the new council members. He makes it a point to use other resources for alternative funding like “Box tops for education clippings” brought in by all teachers and faculty. Not by his choice and under protest teacher Mr. Rowley has been volunteered by Guidry, to work as a council member in an early episode. During Melody Hull's final valedictorian speech to end the series, she extends Principal Guidry an open invitation to come to her Christian Church.

Jaris Sundin. Played by Courtni Aries. An overworked 32-year-old widowed supermom, and neighbor to Dillon and his roommates, Jaris is the mother of three children. Jaris is noticeably pregnant with a fourth child on the way in the first few episodes of the series. Her husband Johan died recently, and she seeks support from her new friend Kaidence, a school counselor at East Valley Academy. Upon Khalil’s loss of his last immediate family member in the pilot episode, Jaris specifically conveys her support and understanding of family loss with Khalil, a classmate of Hayley and Griffin’s. Shortly after Khalil’s attempted suicide, Jaris and her daughter Hayley, offer support by cooking and providing extra blankets to Khalil knowing Dillon has essentially become a foster family to Khalil.

Brody Vanderschmidt. Played by Bryan Kreutz. Brody is Dillon and Landon's nosy neighbor and expert video gamer. He is present with Dillon, Landon, or the Sundin twins playing video games, talking about video games, or dabbling into matters that concern his surrounding neighbors more than they should him. He gets a job as a Taxidermist after dressing up in a tacky suit for the interview. Brody who knows about ways to get hockey tickets online for cheap refers Bogore to stub-hub while helping him store his equipment in the Horseshoe apartment storage area. While helping Bogroe store his bulky DJ equipment it is apparent he knows more when Bogroe's roommates and Brody get into a conversation about his appearance. It is apparent that Brody is involved heavily in an ongoing cover up of Bogroe's side gig DJ job and eventually is one of two neighbors who reveal the truth to Dillon and Landon.

Mrs. Hialeah. Played by Sarah Cotton. Psychology teacher at East Valley Academy High School and openly into the psychological and emotional state of her students. In one of the first scenes of the pilot episode Hialeah is shown speaking in front of her class with an emotionally driven statement to her students. "I want to be that teacher that crosses the line. The one you remember... a teacher whose passion for students inspires them to go that extra step". Hialeah sticks alongside her friend Mr. Neil, when his best friend, and teacher, Mr. Stu is under a scandal at the school. She Singles out two students on the spot making them stand front and center in class as do not do examples. Hialeah's discipline is to have the school's most popular girl Savannah, and smartest girl Erin, have to endure an ongoing cooperative project together after school. Mrs. Hialeah's philosophy of student discipline goes too far in they eyes of Avril, Erin's mom, as she makes an in school visit confrontation.

Londyn Downey. Played by Brianna Langford. Londyn is a sophomore at East Valley Academy High School and a cheerleader. She's the former best friend of Savannah, seemingly from years past and has a bitter attitude towards Savannah now. Londyn is seen sitting next to Shane closely as if an item again, even though they are exes and Shane and Savannah are a couple. Londyn takes advantage of an opportunity to take Savannah’s on again off again boyfriend Shane back when she tells Savannah’s best Friend Sydney she is not moving out of St. Louis after all. Londyn sets up a specific café confrontation and unexpectedly gets tag teamed by two of Savannah’s friends. Londyn works part-time mostly after school as a sales representative at the Triumph Sports store in St.Louis. She is seen in an early episode selling sports skorts to the East Valley High Track and Basketball coaches in an effort to cut down on costs.A very convincing personality, her charm suits her beauty well as an effective sporty sales rep, Cheer-leading captain, and popular girl who is at the top of her game. Her sister is Berlin, and is only seen in one episode while the two sisters are at home.

Veronika Earney. Played by Emma Mitchell. Veronika is Dillon's on again and off again girlfriend. She is the daughter of a former alternative rock group producer who turned to Catholicism with a final album recently produced. She is pushed too far to join in on going to Dillon's Church to change her life. She initially tries to maintain her relationship with alcohol after a less than responsible upbringing by her father, but validates her childhood and goodness by her actively catholic mother primarily raising her. In the Pilot episode Veronika implores Dillon to move in with her, even though they are not married, he gives a dissertation on waiting that pushes her away enough to return to drinking and eavesdropping in distrust of his motives.Her best friend Juliana, questions Dillon on pushing Veronika too far and he eventually apologizes to her getting her back as a girlfriend.

Tessa Stockton. Played by Taylor Vandelicht. Tessa is a freshman at East Valley Academy School and close with her younger sister Mackenzie, whom is a girl scout.She is anything but quiet or soft-spoken, often vocalizing her opinion in and out of class. She's the one student who is seen as friends with both Savannah and Erin at the same time, ultimately becoming the victim of sisters Savannah and Thea's wrath at a cafe for being supportive of Erin's news of studying acting abroad.

Kaidence Crews. Played by Jamie Fritz. Counselor at East Valley academy High School and a bubbly blonde who is known to be in Principal Guidry’s business. She's friends with Jaris Sundin, helping her through her loss of a spouse and with her daughter Hayley's teacher touching situation. She guides many of the students emotionally, notably Savannah and her boyfriend troubles, Erin and her haughty behavior towards Savannah, and Khalil's suicidal and social behaviors.

Teagan Janney. Played by Stephanie Swink. The fashionable "other best friend" of Savannah Swanson. Teagan is a girl who has an eye for hair and fashion as she not only looks good, but she's the kind with that attractive high self-esteem. She helps taunt, but also has an analytical mentality when in two separate instances she is talking to Mr.Rowley and Londyn, appearing to be a smart mentor. She is the victim of a reported shoulder touching incident in class leading to Mr.Charles dismissal of teaching duties, when Hayley reports it to Counselor Kaidence.

Melody Hull. Played by Ashley Pavlige. A great singer who is neutral in her friendships often playing the mediator in arguments or careless convo's involving her many friends and is clearly the voice of reason. She is often seen sitting or hanging around with Khalil, Ellise, and Erin O'Byrne. Melody is the very last character seen speaking at the end of the series, giving her podium graduating Valedictorian speech as she sneaks in the final words to invite her Buddhist principal to her Christian church.

Episodes Summary

Episode Name Date of Release Director(s) Writer(s) Story outline
Superiority of the High and Mighty Kind-ness October 25, 2014
Bryan Kreutz
Joanna Ferbrache, Bryan Kreutz
Roommates Dillon Magnum and Landon Lofton are moving out of an apartment and into a new apartment in St. Louis, likely to be further away from Saint Louis University (SLU), the college they have already been attending. The two have been talking about moving ever since they've been Freshman psychology students. Dillon states Landon is up for graduation and a final internship for himself as they finish college. One last internship elective they must take together is Applied Developmental Psychology: Variability in teacher-student interactions for SLU college credit at East Valley Academy High School. The high school is where they also graduated from four years earlier. Dillon, with the aid of longtime tenured High school teacher Neil Rowley, observes differences in clashing personalities between students Erin, the drama department class president, and Savannah the most popular student. Bogroe, a former high school roommate of the two college students crashes on their couch as freeloader. When Landon reluctantly challenges Bogroe to prove he is more responsible than in the past while they were in school, Bogroe takes exception and makes his couch proclamation to stay rather permanently.
Friends, Family, and Freeloaders November 1, 2014
Tommy Callahan, Bryan Kreutz
Joanna Ferbrache, Bryan Kreutz
Upon hearing the Sundin family neighbors yelling and putting on a sibling argument in early morning, the roommates are beginning to get accustom to the routine, although they’re not happy about it. After knocking on the neighbors door, Dillon offers to the widowed mother Jaris that she can come talk to him or Landon next door and that they work at East Valley academy during the day where two of her three kids go to school. Later widow neighbor and mother Jaris receives a call from Dillon that he is driving her son Griffin home instead of letting him ride the bus due to his newly contracted sickness. Dillon takes it a step further to invite the family, not just Griffin over to watch old pro basketball videos of Griffin's deceased father and Jaris' husband.

Savannah and Shane as a couple have high points and a rather questionable two- timing moment when Shane is seen with his Ex, Londyn, on what appears to be a date. Shane comments that he's torn between liking both Savannah and Londyn.

Friends, Family, and Freeloaders, Part 2 November 8, 2014
Tommy Callahan
Bryan Kreutz
Carefully observing and helping teach classes, Student teacher Dillon shows his frustration asking how his elders deal with students in the breakroom. The advice he seeks is from two most senior teachers at East Valley Academy. One teacher slips in a suggestion for Dillon to try the Bible for answers insinuating patience and guidance comes from the good book. He tells Dillon "This is how I cope".

Upon overhearing a music class side conversation about a new show choir, Miri, Erin’s best friend, tracks down Savannah to get the details for her and Erin to gain an edge on an early scoop about the audition. Nervous butterflies and insults ensue as many of the girls wait for their turn to go on the audition stage while guys and teachers look on with an official state judge. A multi-talented group of students audition for the new East Valley Academy show-choir where the results are left as a cliffhanger. Finding it difficult to deal with family tragedies, Khalil, slits his writs in front of the class and passes out.

Fued of Friends and Foes November 15, 2014
Tommy Callahan
Tommy Callahan, Bryan Kreutz
Singled out by Mrs. Hialeah and standing front and center in class as do not do examples, the school's most popular girl Savannah and smartest girl Erin have gone too far in their obvious hate for each other. Mrs. Hialeah's philosophy of student discipline goes too far in they eyes of Avril, Erin's mom, as she makes an in school visit to confront the teacher and Principal Guidry. Meanwhile Savanna's best friend Sydney and Ellise (Ellie) meet on her behalf with Londyn to discuss who the highly sought after guy Shane considers his girlfriend. Meanwhile Bogroe successfully sets up Landon on a blind date to entice him to leave his current girlfriend Tara so he can have her. Unbeknownst to Landon this blind date, Vanessa, Bogroe's former high school Ex, is in on the fun with Bogroe. Tara questions Landon's unusual behavior when she suspects something is going on.
The Quintessence of a Situation November 22, 2014
Bryan Kreutz
Bryan Kreutz, Emma Jane Mitchell, Lec Zorn
Landon cracks down on Bogroe's laziness. Erin gets accepted to a prestigious acting school in Ireland, to the dismay of Savannah, who's already devastated from being cheated on by Shane. Kaidence reaches out to comfort Savannah, one on one, as well as Khalil, who is bummed about the results of the show choir. The teens involved in the schools madrigal show choir, ie. Savannah, begin to encounter moral and ethical dilemmas in the high school setting. Confident and armed with sheet music, Savannah in a change of heart, in what seems to be a good gesture, tells the show choir teacher, Fritz, she wants to sing a solo lead. Particularly boasting of her vocal talents, she takes Hialeah's advice giving the solo to her best friend Sydney in the first show choir performance. Londyn tries to build herself up in front her and her sister Berlin's friends by charging off in a blaze of glory with her ex-boyfriend, then demanding her sister lie to their parents about her whereabouts.
Underlying agreements March 14, 2015
Bryan Kreutz
Bryan Kreutz, Lec Zorn
Kaidence meets Jaris at home for the first time and the two quickly become friends. Erin and Griffin quickly become a couple of forevers. Bogroe is caught by the nosy neighbors on his way out to a money making side gig. Catcalls and bribery from Hayley force his hand to the coercion of cash to keep his secret gig an unknown to Dillon and Landon. A show-choir competition before the state finals reveals Ellie is giving Ms.Fritz pointers from her previous championship year before transferring. The group show-choir competition between East Valley Academy and Mount Vernon High-school appear flawlessly performed with the cliffhanger results left to be read by Principal Guidry.
In the Middle of It All April 11, 2015
Bryan Kreutz
Bryan Kreutz, Lec Zorn
East Valley's Show Choir competes on the road in the state competition at the St.Louis city-line high-school stage. Bogroe officially introduces his girlfriend Gemma, who cooks a masterpiece of food and charm. With Borgoe gone more, Dillon and Landon begin to wonder about a possible money making mystery when Bogroe is smiling, mocking, and sure of himself when asked about applying to the 10 jobs a week. Bogroe applies for jobs under Landon's ultimatum. However, Landon and Dillon are even more suspicious when they ask neighbor Brody if he knows something they don't about Bogroe latest act. Savannah and Erin endure their required school project together. Mr. Neil's covering for Mr. Stu's accused class wrongdoings are brought to the forefront by Hialeah who believes he's interfering with an upcoming school board hearing about his best friends recent dismissal from teaching duties. Jaris, surrounded by family and friends goes into what seems to be a complicated and painful labor early while at home.
Gone, But Not Forgotten October 19, 2015
Bryan Kreutz
Bryan Kreutz, Lec Zorn
When the results at the hospital appear seemingly glum, Jaris trusts in her faith and believes its a blessing in disguise. Recent family tragedies trigger traumatic experiences and even some confusing dreams of past memories for Hayley. With Mr.Neil close enough to vouch for its accuracy, Erin tries her own in class societal social structure comparison of her situation with Savannah and Sydney to make a point. Jake makes a heartfelt move to solidify his relationship with Sydney not knowing she had plans to break up with him. Griffin proclaims his love for Erin, knowing she is leaving for acting school in Ireland for the upcoming summer. Suspicion of Borgoe's secret side life become more evident when Landon texts Brody to come over and discuss posted pictures among other knowledge about their freeloading roommate.
All Good Things Must Come to an End October 26, 2015
Bryan Kreutz
Bryan Kreutz, Lec Zorn
Savannah and Erin's cooperative class project for Mrs. Hialeah becomes the talk of the school and even has the principal discussing and Mr. Neil watching from afar. Sydney surprised as ever to see her best friend Savannah finally make peace with her class rival in the auditorium, is moved by the moment, and takes a risk herself with Landon. With the ongoing feud now mutually over between Erin and Savannah, Thea tries to overshadow it by bringing Erin in on what she thinks is inside info on Sydney and Landon's age difference relationship. Erin has clearly grown beyond the underclassmen style of gossip and walks out on Thea with her older sister by her side. Bogroe is busted by blabbing neighbors revealing the truth of his money making and is literally foot chased by his roommates. In hot pursuit of Bogroe, Dillon attempts to catch a glimpse of Bogroe's money making DJ-ing gig at a St.Louis club. Dillon wants answers now, Bogroe is fleeing for more time to consider a plan when tipped off that he is going to be confronted by his roommates.

Marketing and budget

Pure Flix acquired and distributed the family media series with rights to all episodes of "Up on High Ground" after it announced the acquisition of video-on-demand service “I Am Flix”

Generally, the marketing of independent television series is characterized by limited release, but can also have major marketing campaigns. Up on High Ground had a wide release and heavy presence in the U.S. Central and East regions via Television syndication, additionally its North American presence being available online via Pure Flix. In the summer of 2015, when Up on High Ground's distribution platform “I Am Flix” announced it was being acquired by Pure Flix, the launch of their newly re-branded SVOD (subscription video on demand) service made the program available on mobile devices, Roku, as well as the IOS or Android apps for increased viewership. Moreover, the program was now available through on-demand and video streaming for viewership to an even wider audience demographic.

The particularly unique factors about marketing of independent TV shows is capturing an audience and ramping up viewers that use social media before the premiere. Up on High Ground had three trailers released before the show premiered in the fall of 2014. Timing is incredibly important – Up On High Ground had to build up as much hype in the short space of time leading up to and around the launch as possible.

Using a multitude of different taping locations and unlike most major productions, where insurance is typically procured to protect against accidents, Executive Producer Bryan Kreutz found ways around using any insurance budget where location management requirements would hinder the effectiveness of the episode budget to agree and purchase insurance. This very strict budget allocation strengthened each production into making the series and in house production company stronger.

Locations

Primary locations overview During the production of the series, most settings were utilized at a house in the Dutchtown, St. Louis neighborhood in the city of St. Louis, Missouri for the apartment settings and utilized classrooms in Arnold, Missouri as its primary settings for the program. Many of the off school campus scenes were shot on location at the Hotel Ignacio, Cafe Pinxtos and The Moto Museum buildings on Olive Street and Grand Center in the art district of St. Louis near the Fox Theater and St.Louis University.

Secondary locations overview

Secondary settings for apartment doorways, corridors, and B Roll were shot before the series or used from still images that were located in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. Two scenes of the apartment interiors were also shot at the Pontoon Beach, Illinois location. One very short take of character Brody speaking in Granite City, Illinois was used to compliment him showing a picture on his phone that precedes a Cut-in (Insert Shot). This only shot in Granite City, Illinois is the earliest footage used in the final cut of the series that was intended to be a dress rehearsal walk-through in August 31, 2013.

Classroom and East Valley school locations

The classroom settings were taped at the same location, but in four different actual church Sunday school rooms in Arnold Missouri. Most of these school rooms had green retractable walls for the crew to have more space to shoot the scenes. On September 7, 2013 the very first scene of the series was taped in one of these large classrooms that ended up being used in its entirety for episode 4 "Fued of Friends and Foes". In the same building location as the classrooms, the series taped the school hallways, lockers, library, Erin/Miri's room phone conversations, Principal Guidry's office, Most teacher board rooms, and an indoor basketball court gym. Adjacent to this building is where the scenes where shot for the school show choir stages and backstage's, college cafe, fuse ball room, teachers lounge, and counseling office for Minister George Ross.

Location proximity and management

The series taped as far east as Granite City Illinois and as far west as St.Peters Missouri with most shooting taking place in St. Louis Missouri and Arnold Missouri.

Jennifer Langford, the mother of actress Brianna Langford, who played Londyn Downey, played an integral part in securing and location management for the series in St. Louis.

Vikki Farmer was the location manager over the Arnold Missouri classroom and adjacent taping locations for the series' first five episodes, beyond that on a part time and interim basis, Trina Stephens managed the Arnold locations.

Production History

The series co-creator Bryan Kreutz, (Left) would make an occasional appearance as the character Brody in between directing and producing

The TV series began production in 2013 as a co-venture between TV-Talk Show Producer and filmmaker Bryan Kreutz and Brayden Patterson. The production was filmed in several locations in and around St. Louis, Missouri USA, a rarity for the time of scripted TV.

Director Tommy Callahan started filming only a few days after the final on camera screen tests he specifically designated for lead actor Brayden Patterson. Callahan wanted one-on-one touch up rehearsal performances between him and Patterson ending with cast dress rehearsals on August 31, 2013. Filming occurred at no designated studios, all scenes were shot on-location.

Whilst Patterson's character Dillon appeared to be fully integrated as a student teacher in the original pilot production, the CW and PureFlix would ask for a new pilot to precede the original, establishing Patterson and his roommate Landon to have a full back-story. So the two characters appeared as roommates moving out of their college area housing and into the apartment seen throughout the series, along with an an explanation in the new first episode televised production.

Post-production, with award winning editor Dale Ward, did not include director Tommy Callahan for the third episode he directed "Friends, Family, and Freeloaders, Part 2". Callahan was not available to be in the post production facilities due to an illness. Moreover the episode was not co-directed by Bryan Kreutz, but was the only episode solely written by Kreutz so he stepped in during the post-production process for scene selection with editor Dale Ward. The entire process was performed at Concordia Seminary in Clayton, Missouri ending on May 2, 2014. Post-production includes all stages of production occurring after shooting or recording the individual program segments were completed. The subsequent episodes, including the new pilot, were performed by several other individuals at different post-production facilities.

On set production as well as post-production, ceased in October 2015, when the last episode also aired.

Cast list

  • Dillon Magnum — played by Brayden Patterson
  • Landon Lofton — played by Cody Jarvis
  • Savannah Swanson — played by Rylee Cravens
  • Bartholowmew Bogroe — played by Billy Patricks
  • Erin O'Byrne — played by Erin Morris
  • Sydney Ashdown — played by Sydney Thomas
  • Griffin Sundin — played by Matthew Becker
  • Hayley Sundin — played by Molly Cravens
  • Thea Swanson — played by Jessica Jordan
  • Neil Rowley — played by Neil McDonald
  • Principal Guidry — played by Joe McGettigan
  • Miri Cyanne — played by Malissa Williams
  • Brody Vanderschmidt — played by Bryan Kreutz
  • Londyn Downey — played by Brianna Langford
  • Hialeah Oxendine — played by Sarah Cotton
  • Jaris Sundin — played by Courtni Aries
  • Veronika Earney — played by Emma Mitchell
  • Kaidence Crews — played by Jamie Fritz
  • Roxy Sundin — played by Aliyah Studt
  • Khalil Burris — played by Lawson Burris
  • Teagan Janney — played by Stephanie Swink
  • Tessa Stockton — played by Taylor Vandelicht
  • Ellie Cross — played by Tessa Drake
  • Charissa Kirk — played by Grace Clark
  • Ms. Fritz — played by Allison Shadwick
  • Shane Sumner — played by Conner Lee
  • Melody Hull — played by Ashley Pavlige
  • Stu Charles — played by Charles Heuvelman
  • Lara Camille — played by Camille Marolf
  • Juliana — played by Emily Livaudais
  • Jeremy Estrada — played by Charlie White
  • Grant Kosanovich — played by Igor Stevanovic
  • Jake — played by Stone Birkner
  • Berlin Downey — played by Joanna Ferbrache
  • Emma Loughborough — played by Dacey Geary
  • Tara Giordano — played by Blair Dinucci
  • Minister George — played by Lec Zorn
  • Gemmah Qiáo — played by Sara Lin
  • Jayda O'Byrne — played by Kailynne McFerran-Cruthis
  • Mac Rowley — played by Randy Rambeau
  • Avril O'Byrne — played by Kate Barton
  • Wil — played by Mark Van Donsel
  • Vanessa — played by Crystal Richardson

External links