Strong start for Valley-made film ‘Them That Follow’
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
After its successful premiere last week at the Sundance Film Festival, “Them That Follow” is on the right path.
The film, which was shot in the Mahoning Valley in 2017, left an impression on audiences at the influential festival in Utah.
It also took the next step toward getting before a much bigger audience. The Orchard Film Group bought the North American distribution rights, while Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions obtained the international rights.
“Them That Follow” is set among an isolated religious sect that handles snakes as an expression of its faith.
It stars Olivia Colman, Walton Goggins, Alice Englert, Kaitlyn Dever, Jim Gaffigan, Thomas Mann and Lewis Pullman. The team of Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage wrote and directed the film. It was shot in various locations in Mahoning and Columbiana with a modest budget of $2.3 million.
The finished product seems to be living up to the expectations of the producers, who obtained a $1.2 million loan from the city of Youngstown to help fund the film.
Bradley M. Gallo, one of the producers of the film, said “Them That Follow” was the surprise of Sundance.
“There was an overwhelming response to the intensity of it,” said Gallo. “There was lots of applause and a true fascination with the [snake-handling] community we showed in a bird’s-eye view.”
The full team of producers includes Gallo and Michael Helfant of Amasia Entertainment and Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel and Danielle Robinson for G-BASE.
Gallo said he was “beyond pleased” with how well the film turned out, and the distributors who will now market the film to audiences.
“This team accomplished a difficult feat with the budget we had to work with,” he said.
“As for distribution, The Orchard is a great home for us as they understand our goals and intentions when it comes to getting this film out for all to see. Sony taking international rights was heartwarming for me, since I love the execs over there from my time working with them [as a producer on the 2013 film ‘The Call’].”
“Them That Follow” has a strong cast, and it might have gotten an extra bit of attention two weeks ago when cast member Colman earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role of Queen Anne in “The Favourite,” which has been nominated for Best Picture. Colman earlier won a Golden Globe for her work on “The Favourite.”
But Gallo said his film’s overall quality stands on its own merit.
Was the timing of the Oscar announcement a stroke of luck that heightened interest in “Them That Follow” among distributors?
“We don’t look at it that way,” said Gallo. “We have an ensemble cast and their performances were at the top for each and every one of them. We are so happy for Olivia and her recent success, but she came on board way before all that and never left us. She’s such a wonderful generous actress and human being.”
As to when “Them That Follow” will be released, and whether it will get a run in theaters nationwide, Gallo could not say just yet.
“The distributors are having those conversations right now, but we do expect it to be offered around the world,” he said.