Cast, crew recount ‘intense’ emotions as ‘Money Game’ filming ends in Turners Falls

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

  • Protagonist James (Daniel Washington, jumping) faces off against antagonist Bryson (Terrance McFadden Jr., middle) in a game of pickup basketball, filmed Friday at Franklin County Technical School as part of the movie “Money Game.” STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

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

  • Director Julian Lowenthal fist bumps with crew members during filming of “Money Game” on Friday at Franklin County Technical School. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 4/25/2022 5:28:22 PM
Modified: 4/25/2022 5:26:57 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Locally shot and produced drama “Money Game” wrapped up filming at the end of last week, prompting cast and crew members to reflect on what they’d created, even when the cameras were off.

“I’m not going to forget a single person here,” said lead actor Daniel Washington, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film. “It’s actually kind of intense.”

A mere look at the official “Money Game” Instagram page affirms Washington’s sentiment with a litany of cast and crew appreciation posts, as well as candid behind-the-scenes showings of affection, shared multiple times per day.

“Here, not to sound cheesy, but there’s a hug around every corner,” Washington said.

He said the relationships on display, many of which were built from the ground up on set, were fostered by the film’s content as a story about the importance of family and togetherness.

Primarily written, directed and produced by Turners Falls resident Julian Lowenthal, the low-budget film is made relevant by real-life pandemic-inflicted economic hardship. The drama involves “the story of an average American journey in 2021 to succeed,” as previously described by Lowenthal. Standing in the way of protagonist James, a gold-hearted widower with two young daughters, is Bryson, a greedy, hot-headed business owner who represents real-world American tyranny within a broken economic system.

Shot mostly in Turners Falls with supplementary filming in Greenfield, Deerfield and Amherst, “Money Game” wrapped up at Franklin County Technical School. Friday’s shoot involved a scene in which Bryson goes toe-to-toe with James in a pickup basketball game and snaps a series of hateful, deeply personal taunts, inciting an altercation.

“It’s pretty disgusting,” actor Terrance McFadden Jr. said of how it felt to portray Bryson.

Cast and crew members repeatedly referred to McFadden as not only talented, but a great person to be around when outside of the fourth wall. As those on set bonded and became what Producer Tim Harms said was “like an extended family,” McFadden, shaken by the face he put on for the camera, made it a point to step away.

“I call my fiancé every day after I wrap and tell her I love her,” he said.

Aside from getting lost through what McFadden described as “marinating in the sauce,” cast and crew members endured the stresses of major time commitments and disconnection from family, according to Washington.

“I’ve witnessed so many people sacrifice and struggle through this,” he said.

Lowenthal said he “learned a lot” directing “Money Game,” his first time heading a major union film. One of his biggest lessons, he said, was how much he needed to “keep it easy, keep it mellow and be receptive.”

“One of the things I’ll say is that collaborating with your team is the way you get better and better,” Lowenthal said, adding that those on set are “all equals.”

Harms said it was “a great experience to live and work in the area for a couple months,” dealing with local businesses as “Money Game” affiliates needed catering and other amenities. McFadden, who formerly lived in Boston and now lives in Syracuse, New York, attributed some of his on-camera zeal to his setting.

“Being in this neck of the woods shooting in Massachusetts has been an absolute blessing,” McFadden said. “There’s something about this New England area that brings excitement.”

“Money Game” is set to be released in the spring or summer of 2023 at undetermined outlets.

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


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