Carter and Brady O'Donnell at the special screening of the film The Long Dark Trail at the Struthers Library Theatre, Saturday, June 19, 2021. The brothers co-starred in the film that was shot on location in Warren County. Photo courtesy Amy O'Donnell.

Warren County Shines During Special Screening of ‘The Long Dark Trail’

June 21, 2021

WARREN, Pa. – Warren County got a chance to show off on the silver screen Saturday and rose to the occasion in more ways than one during a special screening of ‘The Long Dark Trail’ at the Struthers Library Theatre.

The SLT was nearly sold out as the community came out to show its support for the cast and crew, comprised primarily of Warren County residents, and see the county serve as a backdrop for a psychological thriller.

“This was a great experience, just good experience all around,” Kevin Ignatius, co-founder of Four Eighteen Films the company responsible for the film, said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but we had a great response from the crowd. It was a blast. We got to stand in the back a little bit and just watch people’s reactions. I think it went great.”

Ignatius, a Warren County native who recently moved back to the area, co-wrote, scored and co-directed ‘The Long Dark Trail,’ while Sheffield residents Carter and Brady O’Donnell played the main characters.

“The fact that we were in it kind of gives us a little bias towards it, but I was really impressed,” Carter O’Donnell said.

‘The Long Dark Trail’ is a story about “two impoverished teenage brothers (played by the O’Donnells) 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.”

See a trailer for the film here:

The film was shot on location in Warren County as well, with many familiar landmarks like Jakes Rocks providing the backdrop for key moments in the film.

“It’s one of those things where you have such beautiful landscapes, you don’t really have to do too much,” Four Eighteen Films co-founder Nick Psinakis said. “You just try to do it justice. Hopefully, it will make people more aware of the town and what it has to offer.”

See the full interview with Ignatius and Psinakis here:

Ignatius, who returned to Warren to raise his growing family, thought the area would be well-suited to shooting feature films. He saw the O’Donnells during the All-County Musical ‘Newsies’ and believed they would be a good fit to play Henry and Jacob Willock.

“Kevin saw Brady and I in an All-County Musical and he knew us and was already thinking of doing a Warren project at the time and figured a script with two brothers played by two brothers was a good route to take,” Carter O’Donnell said.

“I thought they looked fearless enough, that they would not get camera shy,” Ignatius said. “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. I thought they did great, for not having done on-camera work, we didn’t do a whole lot of takes.”

That the O’Donnells were willing to do whatever they could to help make the film a success didn’t hurt either.

“To their credit, they were super dedicated and excited about it, willing to do anything,” Psinakis said. “Carter, we had in the middle of the night walk into the water. I hope it really helps them or was a good experience for them in some way.”

The cast members were equal in praising their co-directors as well.

“They’re (Ignatius and Psinakis) awesome,” Carter O’Donnell said. “I don’t think I could say anything else about it. They’re two amazing people, I can’t even call them directors cause they do so much more than that.”

“They were great,” Brady O’Donnell said. “They would always congratulate us, but I don’t think that they understand that they are most of this film. That’s all so much of them. We appreciate them so much.”

See the full interview with the O’Donnell brothers here:

Nearly a year had passed since shooting wrapped, and viewing the finished product for the first time was a bit “weird,” but brought back fond memories for the boys as well.

“It’s a little surprising, it’s a little weird,” Brady O’Donnell said of seeing himself on screen for the first time. “But you get to remember all the moments.”

Brothers being cast as brothers helped make some of the scenes easier to shoot.

“I think once we read through it enough and got a thorough understanding of our characters the rest kind of fell into place,” Carter O’Donnell said. “Because yeah, some of those things would be things I would actually say to him if we were in that situation.”

“The script was pretty natural,” Brady O’Donnell added.

While the cast and crew knew how much time, effort and energy had been put into the film, there was still some uncertainty about how much community support it would receive. That uncertainty was quickly put to rest.

“I knew it was going to be a good turnout of people we knew, but the random faces that I’ve seen maybe once or twice in my life that still came out was impressive,” Carter O’Donnell said.

A nearly sold-out crowd at the Struthers Library Theatre was on-hand for a special screening of ‘The Long Dark Trail’ on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Photo by Brian Hagberg.

“This is a really great small town,” Psinakis said. “Everybody came out to support it. This was the first time we showed the film to really anyone. To do it here with pretty much a sold-out place and a lot of supportive people who really care about the community, it was really special.”

Ignatius and Psinakis have been through this process before, ‘The Long Dark Trail’ is the duo’s second feature-length film, but doing it for a small town, in front of people they’ve known made things a bit different.

“Because you know a lot of these people personally, it almost was a little more nerve-wracking,” Ignatius said. “In L.A., you don’t know everybody. Doing it here, I wanted to make sure everybody was going to enjoy the film.”

Psinakis and Ignatius received a rousing ovation as they introduced the film, as did the cast and crew in attendance. But still, there were some nerves about how the film would be received.

“I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty confident all the way in, but those first few minutes I was a little nervous,” Carter O’Donnell said. “But as it went on it seemed like people were into it.”

The applause at the film’s conclusion was even louder than the introduction and grew as each county resident’s name appeared in the credits.

“I knew beforehand everyone would enjoy it because they’ve never really seen anything like that here,” Brady O’Donnell said. “But I’d say it turned out really well.”

“I’m overwhelmed with joy,” Carter O’Donnell added. “The support of everybody for us, for Kevin, for the families, the amount of people who helped make it possible. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since the lights went up.”

Some of the promotional items available during a special screening of ‘The Long Dark Trail’ at the Struthers Library Theatre on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Photo courtesy Amy O’Donnell.

With all the positive response and community support behind this project, Four Eighteen Films already has its eye on future projects in Warren County.

“We found out there’s a lot here to explore and a lot of support,” Psinakis said. “A lot of really good people trying to help.”

“We would love to have this maybe be part of an anthology,” Ignatius added. “There are a lot of really creative minds (here). Look how this brought everybody, a lot of people in the community together.”

Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Subscribe to our newsletter

White Cane Coffee presents Coffee & a Conversation

Don't Miss