The Recorder – Director Julian Lowenthal fuses major talent with Franklin County landmarks in ‘Money Game’
TURNERS FALLS — Local director Julian Lowenthal has chosen Franklin County as the filming location for “Money Game,” his first major union film.
Lowenthal, a Turners Falls resident who directed and filmed the 2018 “psychological thriller” horror film “Silenced” in the village, summed up “Money Game” as “Good Will Hunting meets Wolf of Wall Street.” Made relevant by the real-world economic hardship inflicted by the pandemic, the drama involves “the story of an average American journey in 2021 to succeed and navigate this system he’s trying to get ahead with,” according to Lowenthal. The ultra-low-budget film, he said, seeks to showcase “a very family-friendly and community-friendly town” in Montague, as well as Greenfield and Deerfield.
Although Lowenthal has never been the lead director of a major union film, he’s no stranger to the bright lights of Hollywood’s biggest stage. He has experience in gripping and electric directing roles, having worked on films such as 2021’s “Free Guy” with Ryan Reynolds, 2019’s “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas and 2021’s “Don’t Look Up” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Jonah Hill.
Making “Money Game,” which stars Daniel Washington, Terrance McFadden Jr. and Chris Owen, won’t be too difficult to learn, Lowenthal said. He added that the cast members – many of whom worked with him on previous films – helped build a team that could effectively execute his creativity on a grand scale.
“It’s definitely a two-way street,” Lowenthal said of his work alongside the cast. “A lot of the cast helped me find other great cast mates they suggested.”
Lowenthal also praised his actors’ ability to imbue their roles with sincerity. Washington stars as James, a single father with two daughters trying to navigate pandemic life amid an economic downturn, an all-too-familiar story in 2022. On the other end of the spectrum, McFadden Jr. portrays the villain from the film Bryson, a money-hungry womanizer born into wealth whose selfishness hampers the well-being of others.
“He gets the character because he sees people like that, unfortunately,” Lowenthal said of McFadden Jr. “He represents what I feel not only for the country, but also for the economy.”
Lowenthal has expressed particular enthusiasm for his success in attracting big-name actors to the region he calls home. While born in New York, Lowenthal moved to Amherst at age three, lived there until his early twenties, and founded Baer Breaking Bread Productions, the production company for “Money Game.” which is still partially based in the city. The other office is located in Turners Falls, where Lowenthal has lived for “six or seven years.” The overwhelming majority of his work throughout his career, he said, was performed in New England.
“I feel this region is a character,” he said. “I feel there is an energy to this region that is very encouraging, welcoming and supportive.”
Aside from one scene shot in Amherst, all scenes will be shot in Turners Falls, Greenfield and Deerfield. Some of the filming locations he revealed include the Shea Theatre, the old Hubie’s Tavern, Greenfield Garden cinemas and local parks. He said the filming, scheduled for March 29 to April 23, will not inconvenience the local community.
“On the one hand, we’re trying to monitor our footprint and we’re not closing roads or shutting down businesses,” Lowenthal said, adding that he will ensure noise is kept to a minimum.
Lowenthal said he hopes “Money Game” will be released in the spring or summer of 2023 in as-yet-undetermined outlets. Regardless of when and how the film is released, however, Lowenthal is looking for his audience to “leave in a better position than they came in before going to see the film.”
“I want them to be entertained,” he said, “but I also want them to have a strong sense of empowerment…and the energy to go climb their mountain. “
Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]