Boston actor speaks to connecting to Franklin County, main character in ‘Money Game’

  • Lead actor Daniel Washington talks with Producer Russ Martin and Director/Producer Julian Lowenthal on the set of the movie “Money Game” at the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls in late March. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

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

  • Antagonist Bryson (played by Terrance McFadden Jr., at left) and protagonist James (played by Daniel Washington, at right) face off in a game of pickup basketball filmed at Franklin County Technical School in April as part of the movie “Money Game.” STAFF FILE PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Director/Producer Julian Lowenthal coaches lead actor Daniel Washington during filming of “Money Game” at Franklin County Technical School in April. STAFF FILE PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 5/11/2022 3:12:43 PM

Entering The Rendezvous restaurant in Turners Falls, Boston-bred actor Daniel Washington takes nothing but a glass of water and a seat as he tries to make himself at home.

Turners Falls, the primary filming location of drama “Money Game,” is entirely uncharted territory for Washington, who was enlisted by Turners Falls-based Director and Producer Julian Lowenthal to serve as a writer, producer and lead actor for the movie. Washington, known best for his roles in “I Care a Lot” (2020), “Detroit” (2017) and “Odd Men Out” (2018), embraced his “Money Game” gig as protagonist James for not only being his first lead part in a feature film, but for being an opportunity to resonate with a grief-stricken world.

“The foundational thing is that it was clearly a powerful story, 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,” Washington said.

Made relevant by real-life pandemic-inflicted economic hardship, “Money Game,” which wrapped up filming at the end of April and is set to release in mid-2023, involves “the story of an average American journey in 2021 to succeed,” as described by Lowenthal.

“The idea of James was to create a character who essentially could represent an average person,” Washington said of his character, a widower struggling financially and mentally to support two young daughters. “He’s not just some superhero who can get it all done. He’s not some miracle who can get it all done. He’s just a guy.”

The ultra-low-budget film, Lowenthal said, looks to showcase “a very supportive town for family businesses and community” in Montague, as well as Greenfield and Deerfield. While used to more of an “inner city” environment having grown up and built his career in Boston, Washington was quick to recognize greater New England as a character in itself.

“You can find a lot of love here,” he said. “You can find creation, even community. But the jagged edges … falling through the cracks here is very common and it’s very difficult to climb out.”

Washington used the extreme and rapidly changing seasonal weather as an example of how New England is “an area of adaptation.” Such an environment, he said, elevates “the story of an average American” to be something more than the “mundane.”

“Interestingly enough, in this particular piece, for me, the mundane is almost an accident,” Washington said. “You almost need these pieces to tell this story that we’re trying to tell. By the time you get to what you might call ‘mundane versus powerful,’ I think you’re really getting to ‘powerful versus the extraordinarily powerful.’ … The point is that the people in it who are living in it and experiencing it are shaking.”

Rather than merely learned, this reality has been lived by Washington.

“Remarkably,” he said, “the list of links I have to James is actually large.”

Most profoundly, Washington opened up about losing “the strongest relationship of (his) life three years ago,” a dynamic that James struggles with on-screen. As he navigates the parallel, Washington looks to emphasize that reconciliation is “not about who you lost,” but “what part of you that you think you lost.”

“The end goal for him is really, ‘How can I make the best outcome?’” Washington said. “I really sympathize with that. … James has a challenge to face, but Daniel actually has a challenge to face, too.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy