By Corey C. Poole
What do you get when a wandering con man meets a heartbreaking bartender? Some would say it might lead to a whole lot of “small town bullshit.” The production crew behind the movie The Dirty South would say it leads to an authentic, fun, hit-movie.
A red carpet premiere was held in Natchitoches on Nov. 2 for the movie, written and directed by Matthew Yerby, a Winnfield native, Northwestern State University graduate and employee at The Point Place Marina where The Dirty South was filmed.
Inspired by two of Matthew’s late father’s favorite songs, Run Around Sue and The Wanderer, the movie is a wild ride that takes place in a matter of three days. It’s action packed, but has an underlying message of family unity and the lengths people will go to to protect the ones they love. It pulls viewers in from the very beginning and takes them through a powerful tale of lawlessness and desperation that inevitably leads to a family coming out the other side closer for all the drama.
The movie will officially be out on Nov. 10 in select theaters and streaming services. The cast features well known actors including Dermot Mulroney, Willa Holland, and Shane West. Vogel Petrongolo Independent Producers Andrew Vogel and Suzann Toni Petrongolo each played a role in the movie while also working behind the scenes.
When asked about the movie and his experience with filming in Natchitoches, Shane West said it was phenomenal.
West is known for his roles in Liberty Heights (1999), Whatever It Takes (2000), A Walk to Remember (2002), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), and on the show “Salem” (2014).
Born in Baton Rouge, West added, “It was fun to be a part of a project that was completely involved in Louisiana. It all had a wonderful family quality to it.”
What really excited him about the project was the characters and the storyline, and getting to experience the Natchitoches Christmas Festival for the first time. He enjoyed filming in the area, meeting all the people, eating at all the restaurants and immersing himself in the culture.
During a Q&A with cast and crew after the premiere, Yerby thanked the Natchitoches community who rose to meet all of the needs the film had, from finding a tractor in around 20 minutes, to producing heaters so the cast and crew didn’t freeze while filming in November. Marina Owner Debbie Walker also made a lot of the production possible by allowing the film crew to use the bar as its base camp. Other residents helped by providing their homes for set locations, loaning out boats for river scenes, and providing other equipment like vehicles, clothing, heaters, and even a wild hog in a cage. A pleasant and unexpected surprise, BOM donated toward the film.
“If it wasn’t for the wonderful people like Debbie, Daniel Page, Van Eversull, Rodney Harrington and many others selflessly helping us, we wouldn’t have The Dirty South,” said Matthew. “People are more than willing to help here in the South.”
On paper, the budget for this film is $1 million, but because of all the local support, Matthew said the production value is close to $5 million.
“It’s been unbelievable because it doesn’t happen anywhere else,” said Matthew, who had Natchitoches and Cane River in mind for the filming location as he started writing the script four years ago.