Nationally recognized film sheds light on a talented local crew
By Sarah Levitch
Photos by Andrea Hutchinson
Spearheaded by local film producer Merry-Kay Poe in early 2018 with producer Chris Mangano, the new thriller “Don’t Tell a Soul” elevates an already blossoming film scene in Louisville. With all filming done locally and 60% of the crew consisting of locals, “Don’t Tell a Soul” is filled with Kentucky easter eggs that any Louisvillian will easily find. The film sheds light on the plethora of talent in our own backyard as Poe exemplifies how the film industry is more than just celebrities and fame. It’s an actual business with a diverse assortment of occupations. Poe noted, “Everyone sits through the opening credits, and those are the people who put up the risk and the money. They’ve invested in the movie. When you sit for ten minutes after the movie and watch all the credits roll, every one of those names represents at least one job. It’s important for people to realize how many individuals it takes to make a movie. That’s why it takes so long, and it’s an intricate process. It’s great to understand that it is a business, and you don’t have to be a movie star or famous director to make a living in this industry. Everything from electricians and carpenters to office staff, then all the creatives from writers to post-productions. There are so many different occupations within the film industry.”
The work put in before and during filming is only half the process though, as Poe mentioned that the film went through about eight months of post-production. This includes getting the pictures locked, as well as adding an original score by composer Joseph Stephens and any voice-overs, sound and special effects.
From start to finish, the film’s journey spanned over the course of two years which, in the film industry, is a short amount of time. Some projects can take years of development before a cast and crew are even brought in, yet Poe said, “The head meeting with Mangano was at Sundance in January 2018. It took me about five minutes to decide that this was the script. It fit perfectly into the parameters that I needed, was within the budget and could be produced in Kentucky. We were fairly lucky because from January 2018 to November 2018 is a short amount of time to develop a project.” With a short window of time to film in late 2018, the cast and crew buckled down, though Poe added that, despite the long days of production, everyone went above and beyond to ensure that filming continued with ease. Poe said, “We had a really great crew. Nora Takacs, the production designer, and Guillermo Garza, the cinematographer, were stellar. Hair, makeup and wardrobe were spot on. There weren’t any glitches with people not doing their part. Everybody got along too. There was really good chemistry between the cast and crew.”
Unsuspecting and gritty, “Don’t Tell a Soul” moves in bursts of rage and sentiment as the adolescent Joey, played by Jack Dylan Grazer, battles his internal morality and his older brother Matt’s illicit tendencies, played by Fionn Whitehead. After stealing $12,000, to help their ailing mother, played by Mena Suvari of “American Beauty,” the two brothers are chased by security officer Mr. Hamby, played by Rainn Wilson of “The Office,” who falls down a hidden well in the woods. Twisting in surprising ways, the story finds a balanced rhythm of good and bad that grasps focus until the last second through raw, vulnerable performances by the four lead cast members and sharp, ominous directing by Alex McAulay.
After showing at the Tribeca Film Festival in early 2019, “Don’t Tell a Soul” skipped the usual festival route due to COVID-19 but decided early on not to wait and went straight to market. Now the movie is available to rent on platforms like Apple TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Vudu, as well as in numerous theaters across the United States.
“Don’t Tell a Soul” producer Merry-Kay Poe held a private screening on January 16, 2021, at Xscape Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky for friends, family and some local crew members. If you’re in the mood for a thrill, this movie is just the ticket!