Directed, written and produced by Ohio native Scott Wiper, The Big Ugly makes its big screen debut this weekend at the Dixie Drive-In , followed by video on demand screenings next week.
The story of the film: Neeyln (Vinnie Jones) has always been the loyal enforcer for crime boss Harris (Malcolm McDowell) back in London, taking care of problems and people that disrupt his illicit business. When Harris strikes a deal with an old friend – American oilman Preston (Ron Perlman) – they find themselves in the wild hills of West Virginia. Contracts are signed and the whiskey flows in celebration, but overnight Neelyn’s girlfriend disappears, last seen with Preston’s wayward son Junior. Lines are drawn between family and friends, but nothing will stop Neelyn from getting answers — and retribution.
Dayton’s own Karri O’Reilly, who served as a producer on The Big Ugly, befriended Wiper working with him on his early films in the ’90s, also said she had hoped to film the project in Ohio near her home in Dayton.
“I’m from Ohio, I love to work here. Scott’s from Ohio, he really wanted to do another movie here. Part of it was our bad, because we didn’t get in line(for the Ohio Film Tax Rebate), but it just shows why the tax incentive is such a critical piece to attracting projects, even homegrown projects,” O’Reilly said. “There’s nothing like making a movie at home.” The movie ended up being filmed in Morehead, Kentucky in six weeks over the summer of 2018.
Wiper and O’Reilly pulled from their Ohio networks to put together a cast and crew that drew in film industry workers from the state. That included Anne Taylor and Jaclyn Laravie doing makeup, Kevin Martt as best boy grip, Jane Streeter on locations, Mike Salamone as Grip, Jessalyn Lauree was an Asst to Malcolm McDowell, David Gewertz as background BG Wrangler, and many more. Wiper estimated that about 75% of the film’s crew is from Ohio.
Many of the local film crew will meet up this Sunday at the Dixie Drive-In to see the film on the big screen. Gates open at 8pm, the film will begin at 9:30pm. There will be a brief Q & A before the screening.