Golden Ghosts Film

In 1852, a lone Black woman trudges barefoot along a dry riverbed in Siskiyou County, watched by two Black men in the trees. She seems indifferent to the spectacular beauty around her, near the base of Mount Shasta. “There’s a lot of purpose in those legs,” one of the men remarks. They assume she is looking for gold, as they are, but conclude that the important thing is what she and they are fleeing. Slavery.
 It’s the opening scene of an hour-long movie, “The Golden Ghosts,” the latest work in Mt. Shasta artist and filmmaker Mark Oliver’s project to recover the forgotten history of African Americans’ participation in the California Gold Rush. His 2022 book “Voices of the Golden Ghosts” started with the faintest of clues – old Census rolls, derogatory names given to long-abandoned diggings – to tell the stories of many for whom the scramble for riches was also a struggle, against daunting odds, for freedom. Shot in Northern California the story follows two African Americans who arrived in California around 1852 hoping to find gold and improve their lives. The prospectors call themselves Tall (Victor Martin) and Money (Fred Magee). They know that their situation is precarious, even though California was admitted to the Union in 1850 as a free state. Racist judges and legislators have let Southern slaveholders bring their “property” west, and the same sort of bounty hunters who enslave Indian children would be happy to return Tall and Money, who lack “papers,” to bondage.

Money and Tall at their mining camp

“The Golden Ghosts,” in fact, is a kind of buddy movie, with a fair share of humor and some cool saxophone playing. While panning for gold in the creeks and staying a step ahead of the bad guys – at least for a while — Tall and Money are willing to make new acquaintances and pick up bits of wisdom from each. The new film project is funded by 18th Street Arts, Creative Corp, and the California Arts Council. Shot in Northern California the story follows two African Americans who arrived in California around 1852 hoping to find gold and improve their lives. 

CAST and Director Mark Oliver

Enora Kalmogho                                  Shiloh Kalmogho                             Valentina Oliver

Got a pic yesterday of our very talented and creative costume designer Maggie Woodard

Christina Keung

First look at script with Fred and Victor

Working on scene 6, Vic, Fred, Carla and Ruben

Last minute brush up before heading up the mountain to look for gold

After a day of rehearsal on the mountain, Victor, Luis, Hop-Iche, Fred, John & Ethan

Golden Ghosts territory sketch by Ruben Alvarado

Ruben Alvarado X marks the spot

rehearse rehearse rehearse @ POPS in Dunsmuir

Workin hard, Mexicans lose their Northern Territory but promise to return!

Fred Magee with his 1849 tool

John, Bobby and Ethan

Jenny and her daughters rehearsing their scene


Click here for a look at rehearsal with los Mexicanos

First day on set 10/1/23

Tall and Money begin their journey

Money and Tall at their mining camp

A few white miners participating in the little known California slave trade.

Young warrior contemplates his future

On set con los Californios y el pollo