Film shot in Franklin County eyes film festivals 

Lead actor Daniel Washington, left, talks with producer Russ Martin, center, and director/writer Julian Lowenthal on the “Money Game” set at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls.

Lead actor Daniel Washington, left, talks with producer Russ Martin, center, and director/writer Julian Lowenthal on the “Money Game” set at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls. FILE PHOTO

Director/Producer Julian Lowenthal appears on the set for the movie “Money Game,” which was shot at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls.

Director/Producer Julian Lowenthal appears on the set for the movie “Money Game,” which was shot at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTOS/PAUL FRANZ

A scene for

A scene for "Money Game" is rehearsed in the lobby of the Shea Theater in Turners Falls on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer

Published: 08-20-2023 7:26 PM

TURNERS FALLS  —  After more than a year of post-production, locally shot and produced film “Money Game” is complete, according to writer, director and producer Julian Lowenthal.

The dramatic film, made relevant by real-life pandemic-inflicted economic hardship, 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. Shooting, which spanned March and April 2022, mostly took place in Turners Falls with supplementary filming in Greenfield, Deerfield and Amherst.

Since wrapping up filming in late April, Lowenthal has watched “Money Game” “almost 200 times,” he said. With attention to detail, he and his team have been able to grow the movie’s “skeleton” into something “bigger and more magical.”

Post-production was not entirely without impediments, however, including some communication issues between personnel. He and his team approached these productively, he said, recounting that they would have “genuine, honest conversations to make a better product.”

“No matter what bumps in the road, obstacles or challenges may come, it’s all there to teach you,” he said. “If you just look at it, not with fear, but willingness to learn, you’re going to overcome it.”

With mixing and mastering complete, Lowenthal is now focused on formatting the film for surround sound systems, various negotiations and distribution to “a good variety” of film festivals. He particularly hopes “Money Game” is accepted to next January’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah as the film’s premiere.

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“We’re looking to also play with the international realm, as well as the domestic realm,” Lowenthal added.

Lowenthal also acknowledged the ongoing Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America strike, stressing that while “Money Game” isn’t heavily impacted directly due to being an independent film, some members of his team have been individually, and he’d like to show solidarity.

“For ‘Money Game,’ we’re going to keep moving forward while we ensure we don’t cross the line and interfere,” Lowenthal said. “I’d like to respect the unions and not go to any of the big companies unless, basically, they say we’re allowed to.”

He added that as the strike continues, “Money Game” is timely, telling a story of corporate greed and classism.

“We have a beautiful story, but I also realize we’re in a time of chaos,” Lowenthal said. “I feel bad for those who are in those frames of mind, but we feel ‘Money Game’ can at least show people a way to not suffer so much.”

Even with various hurdles to overcome, Lowenthal said the movie came out better than he could have ever imagined. He’s confident that it has evolved into not only something that people want to see, but something they “need.”

“Now, it is ‘Money Game,’ ” he said. “There’s nothing I’d change or go back to.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.