Actors take to telling ‘powerful story’ through ‘Money Game’ filming

  • Director/Producer Julian Lowenthal, right, gives instructions to lead actor Daniel Washington on the set for the movie “Money Game” being shot at the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A scene for “Money Game” is rehearsed in the lobby of the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A scene for “Money Game” is rehearsed in the lobby of the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Director/Producer Julian Lowenthal supervises filming for the movie “Money Game,” being shot in Turners Falls on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Lead actor Daniel Washington talks with Producer Russ Martin, center, and Director/Producer Julian Lowenthal, right, on the set of the movie “Money Game,” being shot at the Shea Theater on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Possible extras sign up and get rapid tested for the movie “Money Game” being shot at the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/31/2022 7:56:29 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Flinging a glass of beer across the counter, actor Terrance McFadden Jr. — or “Money Game” film villain Bryson — cut the silence of the room with yells of spite.

“Are you kidding me right now? Do you know who I am?” he sneers toward a bartender cornered by the side of the frame as cameras roll.

“Money Game,” a film written, directed and produced by Turners Falls resident Julian Lowenthal, began filming this week, bringing the bright lights of a big-screen production to the Shea Theater Arts Center on Avenue A. Made relevant by real-life pandemic-inflicted economic hardship, the drama involves “the story of an average American journey in 2021 to succeed,” according to Lowenthal.

The ultra-low-budget film, he said, looks to showcase “a very supportive town for family businesses and community” in Montague, as well as Greenfield and Deerfield.

Thursday’s shooting session focused on a scene where Bryson, a money-hungry, womanizing tyrant, accosts a concert hall employee before inviting protagonist James (Daniel Washington) and his two young daughters to join him and a group of women for front-row access to the show. When James declines his offer, Bryson is taken aback and visibly irritated.

Between cuts, Lowenthal sang McFadden’s praises to crew members, touting him for his ability to transform from an extremely friendly person into a monster when the spotlight comes on.

“He gets the character because he sees people like that (in real life), unfortunately,” Lowenthal said previously of McFadden.

In contrast with the scene’s tension, Script Supervisor Kathleen Stairs said the film’s stars and a “really talented crew” have operated largely on the same page.

“The day’s going pretty well,” she said Thursday. “We knocked out a couple big shots that looked amazing.”

Nine-year-old Nohra Wiksten and 11-year-old Krishna Mitchell, who play James’ daughters and starred in Thursday’s shoot, also expressed enthusiasm in the production’s progress.

“I really think it’s going well,” Nohra said. “I really like the people on the set and everybody’s being super nice.”

“It’s exciting to have a lead role in a movie,” added Krishna, who is making her film debut with “Money Game.”

Aside from one scene being shot in Amherst, all scenes for “Money Game” will be shot in Turners Falls, Greenfield and Deerfield, according to Lowenthal. Some of the shooting locations include the Shea Theater, the former Hubie’s Tavern, Greenfield’s Garden Cinemas and local parks.

Filming will conclude on April 23 and the movie is set to release in spring or summer of 2023 at undetermined outlets.

In the meantime, actors have expressed excitement for their task of portraying characters that resonate with the audience as they experience world conditions much like what they will see onscreen.

“I feel like they’re telling a really good story and putting out a really good message,” Nohra said.

“The foundational thing is that (‘Money Game’ is) clearly a powerful story,’ Washington said, “and as an actor, this is the kind of story we want to be able to tell at least a few times in our career.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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