Tthe independent feature film river path premiere Friday night at the Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine, distributed by Cincinnati-based Four by Three Productions. This will be the first showing of a limited theatrical release for the film, which stars Cody Kearsley from the hit television series Riverdale.
The stylistic drama revolves around a rock musician and a free-spirited woman whose intense relationship turns into a world of drug addiction and crime. Kearsley plays Travis, alongside Lexy Redman as Zoe and Steven Roberts as Fresno. The film, written and directed by Rob Willey and produced by British Columbia-based Tall Grass Films, was nominated for seven Leo 2021 Awards in Canada, including Best Picture, and won Best Actor in a Second role (Roberts) and best musical score (Michael Chambers and Willey).
“I’m really looking forward to taking the audience on a crazy and intense ride,” said Willey. “I hope they’ll be surprised at some of the twists the film takes.”
Willey says the trip to bring river path onscreen was “long and crazy”, citing several obstacles posed by the pandemic. “We were a rambling, low-budget independent production, so just finishing the shoot was a tough adventure.”
Despite these challenges, the film caught the attention of Four by Three founder Chase Crawford, who said he was particularly drawn to its visual aesthetics, action, and drama and saw a promising cast. “When I first spoke to Chase of Four by Three, I was impressed by his enthusiasm and passion for river path, said Willey. “I also liked some of the innovative ideas he had for the marketing and distribution of the film.”
river path premieres in Cincinnati, followed by a weeklong tour to Lumiere Cinema in Los Angeles and screenings in Missoula, Mont .; Portland, Oregon; and Victoria and Vancouver, BC “The future of film is bright,” says Crawford. “We have about a dozen markets lined up for a theatrical release and we’ll be streaming it after the New Year.”
Founded in 2017, Four by Three has streaming deals with nearly 40 platforms in 22 countries, including Apple TV, Prime Video, Roku, and Tubi. Its catalog includes narrative and documentary feature films and television and comedy specials, as well as commercial work alongside partner company Warehouse Collaborative. Forbes recently covered their creative handling of a marketing campaign for the Cincinnati Bengals.
In addition to distribution, Four by Three produces independent films. One of its latest features, Dove turtledove, ends production this month. The feature film is co-written by local filmmaker Craig Lamar Brown and Andrea Summer VonAllmen. Brown directed the film and VonAllmen wrote much of the music for the film while playing the lead role in the production. The story follows two musicians who fall in love while trying to reconcile their racial differences and overcome relational adversity.
Crawford says he has several other projects in the works. “Our film division continues to grow as we launch new businesses like Four by Three Records and Four by Three Comedy,” he says. “We’ve had bigger companies approaching us in terms of a buyout before, but that’s not my vision with all of this.”
Its vision is of an independent production company that can stand up to industry giants, that is connected to awesome local talent, and that sits squarely between the comforts of the Midwest and urban opportunities. Steven Baer, a member of the Four by Three team, who says he does “a little bit of everything, from production to directing to operating the camera,” says vision is what drives it the whole company. “We are very happy with the premiere of river path, and we think it will be a great success, ”he said. “But that’s not the only iron we have in the fire. We have a bunch of exciting projects going on that we can’t wait to share with the world. Really, we are just getting started.
Baer sees the small size of the Four by Three team as a creative asset, as it means no one is locked into one role. The dynamics work particularly well for Crawford, Baer, and the company’s photojournalist (among other titles), Marco Thomas. “We all share the same passion for the film industry,” says Thomas. “It’s not a job for us, but it’s hard work – all the emails, phone calls and backstage. This is how we can keep moving forward.
Thomas says his strength is the still image (his name is OnlyShooterLeft on Instagram), but he’s not limited to that role. The team thrives, he says, when everyone learns something new and puts it into practice. “Chase has a way of making you believe in yourself more than you already do, if you haven’t already,” says Thomas. “He asked me to come aboard unconditionally, and I could still be OnlyShooterLeft and work on my personal projects. So instead of stepping in the door, I was simply asked to make myself at home.
The world premiere of river path screenings at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on October 1 at the Woodward Theater, each screening followed by a Q&A with Willey and Crawford. Tickets are $ 12 in advance and $ 15 on the day of the show. The film is recommended for ages 18 and over, and the Woodward requires attendants to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of entry. Watch the river path trailer here.