Only three locals were able to land parts – minor parts – in “Them That Follow,” the dramatic thriller that was shot in the Mahoning Valley in October and December.
But those who did say it was a blast shooting the low-budget film.
“Them That Follow” was filmed at houses, farms and rural areas in the Salem and Youngstown areas. The plot centers around a religious group in Appalachia that ritualistically handles poisonous snakes.
The writers-directors are Brittany Poulton and Daniel Savage, and the cast includes Walton Goggins, Jim Gaffigan, Olivia Colman, Kaitlyn Dever, Thomas Mann, Alice Englert and Lewis Pullman.
The film is not to be confused with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which will hit theaters tonight. But the filmmakers – as is the norm – kept just as tight of a lid on it when it came to letting out details.
The local actors who were cast as extras also refused to divulge any plot details beyond the summary. Their contract forbids it.
But all were impressed with the cast and crew.
Jay Nagy of Warren, Ashley Lewis of Austintown, and her brother, Chris Lewis, also of Austintown, appear in the film, mainly as worshippers in the snake-handling cult.
Nagy has appeared as an extra in quite a few films shot in the region over the past decade, including “Concussion.”
He called “Them That Follow” one of the best shoots he has ever been on.
“Being low budget, we only had so much to work with, and everyone came together to bring it together,” he said. “[Goggins] is one of the best actors I have worked with. The way he got everybody involved in shooting scenes and getting the shot, it meant a lot,” Nagy continued. “We were out in the woods for 12 hours, freezing and working hard to bring the project to fruition.”
The other principal actors also put the extras at ease. “Jim Gaffigan was being himself, joking with us, and Olivia Colman is a real sweetheart,” said Nagy.
“I’ve been on bigger-budget sets, and you could tell the difference,” he said. “Everyone came together as a team, and we felt like a little family. You get close. On the last day, we were hugging.”
Ashley Lewis echoed those sentiments.
“[Goggins] is phenomenal, professional and down to earth,” she said. “He makes you feel. He is such a powerful actor. He made me cry twice in one scene.”
Goggins, who plays the lead role of Lemuel the preacher, has a resume that is heavy on cool roles on intense films and TV series. These include Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” as well as the series “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Shield.”
“He wants everyone [in the scene] to be just right,” Ashley continued. “He’d joke around, but when it’s time to go, he’s right in character, a take-charge attitude, which made it enjoyable.”
Ashley noted that Gaffigan seemed to know a lot about Youngstown.
Ashley’s film work also includes “Concussion,” as well as an episode of “Chicago PD.” She also is a singer who fronts a band (she has gigs next month at JR’z Pub and El Jalapeno, both in Austintown).
NEW MUSIC FROM A COUPLE OF MAHONING VALLEY ARTISTS
Candace Campana has released a powerful new song that stands with cancer victims and their friends and families.
Titled “Pink Ink,” it is available on amazon.com.
The song has Campana singing in a steadfast tone over a sparse acoustic guitar as accompaniment.
“It is very serious, and it’s special to me,” said the Struthers resident about the song. “I’ve seen so much heartache happen from this awful thing called cancer, and I wanted to give people something to help them through it in the way I know how – song.”
Her muse was a pen that she came across with pink ink. “I crafted the song by realizing ink doesn’t always have to be on paper,” she said.
“Pink Ink” is Campana’s first song since May, when she released “It’s Too Late” under the name CC Cannon – a moniker she has since dropped.
Demos Papadimas and his band are getting to ready to release a five-song EP, with four new songs and a live version of “How Long.” The band will have a record-release party show Dec. 22 at Cedars West End on Youngstown’s West Side.
Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator.