The official trailer for the film, “Bullitt County,” opens in a small shop. As you watch the clip, you are transported back to the 1970’s with the nostalgic faintly sepia filter tone over characters wearing flair-legged pants. The viewer is introduced to one of the film’s main characters speaking with one of the town’s local shopkeepers. “The legend goes that the Bullitt family of Bullitt County took all of their money out to the wilderness to and buried it,” the shop employee says. Thrilling flashes of a terrified bachelor party in the dark wilderness follow the shop scene, and the viewer is left desperately wondering what happened to the group of friends who went on a hunt for buried Prohibition money on the Bluegrass Bourbon Trail.
“Bullitt County” is the first film of the production company, Mr. Pictures. The thrilling dark comedy ended up becoming a more personal project for the film’s director, David McCracken, and producer, Josh Riedford, as the carefully crafted writing, plot, and the other elements of the film tied back to their own lives.
“Because it was going to be our first movie we really wanted to start off trying to think about what would be the most personal and meaningful to us,” said McCracken. A lot of that nitty gritty stuff started coming from our real life to some degree. For instance, I play a character in the movie who’s the main character’s best man, and prior to filming, I was Josh’s best man at his wedding. There were things like that. And that carried all the way down to finally shooting the film around our hometown and using places that we kind of grown up in. So it ended up being a very personal film for us at all different levels. We thought that was the best way to put foot forward as our first film.”
Many of the audience members and the film’s critics agree that the project stands as good first impression to the young production company. The same critics have also spoken about how they enjoyed the film’s twists knowing as little as possible about the movie going into the theater.
“That’s most, by and large, the most common thing we hear back from different critics is I’m kind of glad I didn’t know anything going into it because it’s just that much more enjoyable to watch everything unfold,” said Riedford. “I think kind of another thing is I think people are not expecting a film that not only takes place in the 70’s but it’s shot in such a way to emulate a lot of our favorite films which were done in the 70’s.”
The setting of the film also played perfectly to the story and the plot of “Bullitt County.” The elements of the dark woods of Kentucky and Indiana in the 1970’s that were chosen by the film’s creators transported filmgoers into a nostalgic state that the characters exhibit in the movie.
“The film is kind of about characters living in the past and dwelling in the past and so to kind of get that feeling of nostalgia for people that are watching it, you can kind of do that by just setting it in the past,” Riedford explained. “People are instantly being transported to that time. Oddly enough because we made that decision, it made a lot of things easier. There’s certainly challenges that come with being in the past which is just you have to keep an eye out for every little detail, but the town that we were shooting in in Indiana sort of looks like it was straight out of the 70’s.
There was a lot of really generous people in the area that collect classic cars, and people would want their car to be immortalized in film, so every car that you see was donated by somebody that wanted their car to be in a movie. We were very fortunate in that sense just because of setting it in southern Indiana and Kentucky we could get away with a lot more of that kind of period piece. Rather than doing it in 1970’s LA or 9170’s New York, there’s just a lot of other considerations.”
The considerations made for the film most likely would not have been made had it been made in a different location. The filmmakers of Bullitt County were able to take creative liberties that may have went in an entirely other direction had a larger production studio taken hold of it.
“We kind of got the best of both worlds,” said McCracken. “Being able to take some chances and make something very personal and make a movie that would have otherwise just going through the studio. It would have been more take this out, take that out, or add this and so we were kind of able to make a movie in isolation in Indiana and then get the best of both worlds by being able to be released nationwide in theaters. Its kind of is a very rare opportunity to see something that you wouldn’t normally see in the Hollywood machine. Not that all Hollywood movies are, but we were able to be a little riskier with some things.”
Mike C. Nelson, Jenni Melear, David McCracken, and Napoleon Ryan star in the action thriller. Bullitt County is the winner of six Best Picture Awards from film festivals nationwide and was released at AMC Theatres across the country October 26, 2018.