New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Bullitt County

By Al Nigrin

originally published: 05/26/2018

Bullitt County

Bullitt County by David McCracken opens the New Jersey International Film Festival Summer 2018 on Friday, June 1st at 7:00pm. In the psychological-thriller feature film, four buddies with a dark secret reunite after ten years for a bachelor party on the Kentucky Bluegrass Bourbon Trail.  When they discover that their favorite distillery has been turned into a winery, the newly sober groom, Gordie, seizes on an even better adventure: a search for a stash of buried Prohibition money deep in the woods of Bullitt County, Kentucky. His friends reluctantly join him on his quest, only to discover there’s something much more dangerous than cursed treasure.

Before Bullitt County, the neo-noir short Headless Swans by Jordan Klaja will shown.  The evening includes Q&A sessions with Klaja and Josh Riedford, the producer of Bullitt County.

Professor Al Nigrin, Executive Director/Curator of the New Jersey Film Festival spoke with Bullitt County director David McCracken and producer Josh Riedford about the film.

Tell us about your film and why you decided to make it.

McCracken: Josh and I started from a very basic place. This would be our first movie, so it should be very “us.” I had just been the best man for his wedding, so we used that as a starting point for the bachelor party premise. We had also recently done the Kentucky Bourbon Trail together, and that seemed like a fun world to play in. We love camping and the outdoors, so why not film outside instead of on a stuffy stage? Finally, all this led to the practicality of filming around our hometown in Indiana -- not only was the film set in that region, but we could use our familiarity with the area to save time and money. 



The article continues after this ad

 


 

How much of the film was shot in Kentucky? 

​Riedford:  Most of the film was actually shot around our hometown in Southern Indiana. As David said, that was mainly a financial decision, but having grown up in the area, we selected locations that were indistinguishable from the rural parts of Bullitt County, Kentucky. ​Some scenes, however, were shot in Kentucky, and it’s a testament to our creative team that Indiana and Kentucky residents who have seen the film can’t tell which scenes were shot in which state.

 

There are a number of twists and turns in your film to keep the viewer guessing. Was this the plan all along? 

McCracken:  ​I usually don’t write from an outline since I like the characters to drive the story. So from that standpoint, the twists weren’t planned. But while writing the first draft, it became very clear to me that those twists would happen. So during the rewrites, I focused on foreshadowing, planting Easter Eggs, etc., and this continued throughout the entire film -- each department adding their own flair so that the film is a very fun re-watch once you know the twists. Very much like The Sixth Sense and Fight Club.

Bullitt County

Tell us about the four leads and how you selected them?

Riedford:  ​Some roles were cast the old-fashioned way: David and I reviewing hundreds and hundreds of audition tapes. But David wrote a few of the parts specifically for certain actors. He had directed Mike Nelson (“Gordie”) and Napoleon Ryan (“Wayne”) in various projects while attending USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. And about ten years ago, David and I met Richard Riehle at a playwriting workshop, just before David was about to go to USC. The three of us hit it off, and we all agreed we’d love to work together in the future. So when it came time to cast Bullitt County, we gave Richard a call.

 

Was it tough to have to direct yourself David, given that you are also one of the lead actors in the film?

​McCracken: The more hats you wear, the more difficult the whole process becomes, mostly because you’re always worried about being spread too thin and dropping the ball on something important. The only way I was able to write, act, and direct was because I was supported by an incredibly talented and hard-working team.

Bullitt County

Tell us about the cinematography and soundtrack. 

​McCracken:  ​ The story itself primarily dictated the visual style. The movie is set in the autumn of 1977, so we embraced earthy browns, oranges, yellows, and reds. Bourbon also evokes amber and oak, so it fit in nicely with our color palette. We used striking reds to cut through our earthy palette as a way to infuse the visuals with a sense of danger and aggression, and most of all, we crammed as many X’s into the frame as possible to signal death and impending doom (a concept used in all sorts of films, from the original Scarface to The Departed). Beyond that, we really looked to the cinematography of Roger Deakins, especially films like No Country for Old Men, Prisoners, and most notably The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Riedford: The music is also meant to follow the story in many ways. It begins very simply with strings and guitar, a very folksy-vibe, but gets darker and more complex as the events play out. We also utilized various elements from the film in our musical soundscape, from percussive whiskey bottles to crystal wine glasses for ethereal timbres. Even the “treasure motif” is the result of coins being placed on the strings of a piano. We also experimented with other audio techniques to accentuate the visuals. My personal favorite are the bizarre tunnels of sound which help bring the audience into the madness of Gordie’s mind. 

 

Are there any memorable stories while you made this film?

McCracken: As you can imagine, filming outdoors invariably leads to interesting circumstances. One instance that comes to mind was the scene in the ravine where we were continually stopping because the entire set and crew were covered with thousands of ladybugs. But I think my favorite memory was shooting the scene with the friends singing around the campfire. It was pretty complex because the camera and characters are constantly moving in a circle. The boom microphone and its shadow kept getting in the shots so finally our sound guy Ian climbed a tree and spent the whole scene hanging upside-down from a limb with the boom pole. 

Riedford:  The story behind getting the friends’ car was also pretty great. We were location scouting at a winery in the middle of nowhere and saw a mint condition 1975 Pontiac Grand Ville sitting in the parking lot and decided it was perfect. While we were momentarily distracted, however, the owners left, so we all jumped in our car and chased them down winding backcountry roads for at least 15 minutes before catching up to them. They were pretty weirded out at first but ended up being super cool and really excited that the car would play such a huge role in the film.

Bullitt County



Bullitt County Screening at the New Jersey International Film Festival will take place on Friday, June 1 at 7:00pm; Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ.  For more on the festival, click here for our festival preview.



Al Nigrin is a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University.  In addition, he is the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc., which presents the Bi-Annual New Jersey Film Festival, the New Jersey International Film Festival and the United States Super 8mm Film + Digital Video Festival.






State Theatre Presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back In Concert with NJSO
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra present Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in concert with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra featuring Conductor Constantine Kitsopolous on Saturday January 6, 2019 at 3:00pm. Tickets range from $35-$125. 
The Morris Museum Brings Back Exhibition On Screen series
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The Morris Museum brings back a film series from Exhibition on Screen beginning on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 with the feature film Degas: A Passion for Perfection.  Two additional films will also be shown: Young Picasso, on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 and Rembrandt on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.  All films will be screened at 7:30pm in the Bickford Theatre.  
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies, presents the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 which marks the festival's 37th Anniversary.  The Festival will take place between January 25 and March 1, 2019. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, experimental and short subjects, classic revivals, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 will feature over 35 film screenings. 
NJPAC Presents Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert With The NJSO
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns to New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert, on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. See the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform the magical score live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.
Kean Stage Hosts "White Christmas" Sing-Along
(UNION, NJ) -- Kean Stage hosts a White Christmas Sing-Along on Sunday, December 16 at 3:00pm.  Gather your family and friends for this beloved 1954 holiday film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. You’ll enjoy singing along to Count Your Blessings, Snow, Sisters and, of course, the iconic White Christmas. And don’t worry if you don’t know the words – the lyrics will be shown on the screen.


REVIEW: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
For better or worse (worse in this writer’s eyes), the success of the Harry Potter franchise is largely responsible for the current Hollywood landscape of endless sequels, prequels and that awful phrase “universe building.” The Potter films showed Hollywood that it was a far safer financial model to hook audiences into returning for instalments of an ongoing series rather than taking a punt on the unknown quantity of original properties.
REVIEW: "Shoplifters"
Earlier this year, writer/director extraordinaire Hirokazu Kore-eda surprised us with The Third Murder, a legal thriller that made for a stark departure from the sentimental family dramas he’s become known for. With his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, Kore-eda is back on familiar ground, but this particular family drama shares much in common with The Third Murder. With his thriller, Kore-eda deconstructed the genre, forcing us to question how willingly we place our trust in a storyteller. Similarly, Shoplifters sees Kore-eda lull his audience into a false sense of security, making us develop a warmth and affection towards people who may not warrant such empathy.
REVIEW: "First Man"
The image that most defines the 20th century is that of a man standing on the surface of the moon. The man is astronaut Neil Armstrong, but we can’t see his face as he’s wearing a helmet, the glass of which reflects our collective achievement back at us. When he took a small step, we all took a giant leap with him, and Armstrong instantly became more than a mere man, a symbol. With First Man, director Damien Chazelle takes us inside the famous helmet, stripping away the symbol to tell the story of Armstrong the man.
REVIEW: "Halloween"
In 2013, John Carpenter’s Halloween received a 35th anniversary blu-ray release. The accompanying booklet credited the following line of dialogue to Jamie Lee Curtis’s babysitting heroine Laurie Strode: “Was it the boogeyman?” Of course, that’s a misquote. In the scene in question, Laurie admits to herself that “It WAS the boogeyman,” to which Donald Pleasence’s Doctor Loomis solemnly replies, “As a matter of fact, it was.”
REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.






Event calendar
Tuesday, Dec 11, 2018


MUSIC

ALAN SCARDAPANE @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm


THEATRE

Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm

The Night Before Christmas Carol @ The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCCArts), Branchburg - 1:00pm and 7:00pm

A Christmas Carol @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


KIDS

The Shoemaker & the Christmas Elves @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 10:30am


MISC

Sam Darnold Meet & Greet @ iPlay America, Freehold - 5:00pm






View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.