Four Eighteen Films co-founders Kevin Ignatius (top) and Nick Psinakis shoot scenes for the upcoming film, 'The Long Dark Trail' in Warren County. Ignatius, a Warren native, hopes Four Eighteen can shoot future projects in Warren County as well. Photo courtesy Lauren Borger Williams.

Bringing Hollywood Home: Four Eighteen Co-Founder Ignatius Making Films From, and In, Warren County

June 17, 2021

WARREN, Pa. – It’s a common tale, a chance pairing in a class leads to a lifelong friendship and, ultimately, a business partnership.

Of course, if Warren native Kevin Ignatius were to share his “common tale,” it just might end up on the big screen.

That’s because Ignatius’ chance encounter with Nick Psinakis led to them establishing Four Eighteen Films, a production company based in Los Angeles. The genesis of Four Eighteen Films began 3,000 miles east, in New York City.

“We were in an acting class in New York, in Times Square,” Ignatius said. “Our teacher put us together to do a scene from ‘This is Our Youth.’ We just bonded doing that scene together, plus we both played hockey . . . and we had the same birthday.”

That birthday? April 18, or, said another way, Four Eighteen.

Nick Psinakis and Kevin Ignatius. Photo courtesy Four Eighteen Films.

The journey from acting class in New York to production company in Los Angeles wasn’t as easy as hopping on a plane at JFK and landing at LAX.

“We met in New York, then I came out to LA, and for a couple of years did acting and writing. Just getting my bearings,” Ignatius said. “Then he came out and we started collaborating.”

Their varying backgrounds helped make the collaboration successful. Psinakis handles most of the cinematography and editing, while Ignatius does the music and scoring.

“That’s the synergy with Nick and me,” Ignatius said. “He usually cuts the first cut, then I make adjustments, then I score scene by scene.”

Photo courtesy Four Eighteen Films.

The collaborations began with comedy sketches and featured some high-profile actors including Rex Lee (Entourage) and Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie). The duo tried to progress to a television series, but ran into a roadblock.

“We started pitching TV,” Ignatius said. “We were in meeting after meeting, but we were able to get a deal with Legendary for a series called ‘Life Behind Bars.’ Sony ordered 10 episodes, but couldn’t come to terms. While we were going through that hell, we said, ‘Let’s make some short films.’

The short films, available at foureighteenfilms.com, were primarily sci-fi dramas and did well on the festival circuits. The two decided to try their hand at a feature-length film.

They were able to utilize some of their connections in LA to help finish ‘My Best Friend’s Famous.’

“LA is super expensive to shoot in and we got Ryan O’Neal (Love Story, Paper Moon) for (the film) and he let us shoot some scenes at his house in Malibu,” Ignatius said.

Film shoots are the only expensive thing in LA. Ignatius recently returned to Warren and brought Four Eighteen Films with him, in more ways than one.

“We moved back (to Warren) because our family was growing,” Ignatius said. “It was super expensive to live out there with a family. Coming back here, I was like ‘Why not continue? Why don’t we bring some feature films in Warren?'”

First, Ignatius had to convince Psinakis that Warren County would be conducive to shooting films.

“I got him out here and he was blown away by the landscape,” Ignatius said.

They decided the woods in Sheffield would make the perfect backdrop for a new horror/thriller film. The people, both in Sheffield and throughout Warren County, worked with the pair’s vision as well.

“I saw the O’Donnell boys (Brady and Carter) performing Newsies and was blown away,” Ignatius said. “I thought they looked fearless enough, that they would not get camera shy. The boys worked hard, were so diligent about knowing their lines. The first day of shooting it was like here we go, and they were nailing it.”

The O’Donnell’s star in the film, ‘The Long Dark Trail’ a story about “two impoverished teenage brothers who, after escaping their abusive father, embark on a treacherous and haunting journey to find their estranged mother who has become the disciple of a sadistic cult lurking deep in the forests of rural Pennsylvania.”

A special screening of the film will be held Saturday at the Struthers Library Theatre.

Ignatius hopes Four Eighteen can continue using Warren County, both the landscape and the people, for future films.

“The idea is, let’s just continue making low-cost films,” Ignatius said. “Let’s continue hiring people locally, but still bring in a name. We could fly one big name (actor) in for each film. We couldn’t do it with this due to COVID, but let’s do a series of these shoots.”

Though Ignatius is currently residing in Warren, Psinakis is still living primarily in Los Angeles. Four Eighteen is making the most of cloud services to continue collaborating.

“We work in the cloud,” Ignatius said. “As long as we get principal photography done, we make it work. (Distance) doesn’t matter.”

Their “common tale” now includes a long-distance working relationship, but Ignatius knows this partnership can do great things.

“We fight like a married couple, but we get to what we need to execute,” Ignatius said. “We both know what we like and don’t like. We end up executing, and that’s what’s great about it. As long as that happens, whatever we can get to work in that frame, it matters. It’s hard to find someone to be a creative partner, in an intense environment as doing a feature film.”

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