MASSENA – It’s the year 2025 and five years ago the government was overthrown and organized crime took over.

“The Ballad of Billy Badass,” filmed on location using a cast of local talent in front of and behind the camera, makes its digital debut on Friday.

“The movie opens in 2020. Basically, the American people are rising up against the government and they are overthrowing the government. Five years later, because there is no government in the United States, organized crime has filled those shoes. Everyone has wandered to a makeshift town called Quad City. It’s called that because there are four districts, each with their own mob boss, ”said Elijah Winfrey of Massena, who wrote and directed the film and plays a character named Johnny Love.

Billy, the main character of Patrick J. Burnett from Massena, is the leader of the poorest district.

“He wants to enable a better life for himself and the people he loves and who are important to him. The only way for him to do this is to kill and take over all the other mob bosses,” said Winfrey.

He said he spent much of the last year filming the film.

“We shot in Norfolk, we shot in Massena, we shot in Brushton and Winthrop just to get a different look for this makeshift town. I think it’s really good. I’m excited about it, ”he said.

One of the sets is a former Norfolk school.

“Due to the fact that it has been sitting there for years, it has literally given us almost all of our interior shots. And because it used to be a school, the hallways were all different colors so they looked different in front of the camera. We were really lucky when it came down to it, ”he said.

The filming in Massena was done on the pier, which Winfrey says plays a crucial role in the film and in the banquet hall of the Massena Volunteer Fire Department.

“They were kind enough to let us take advantage of that,” he said.

A friend’s trailer in Winthrop and a closed bar in Brushton also served as the backdrop for the film.

“So we’ve been lucky with the people who donate places to film,” said Winfrey.

He wrote the script in 2014 using comics and films by Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese as inspiration.

“I’m a big fan of comics. I’m a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese films. I basically took my inspiration from these filmmakers and comics and got into antiheroes. So I decided to write a story about it and this is the character we came up with. I’ve always been fascinated by the heroes who are more like us, heroes who have problems, rather than heroes who are squeaky clean, ”he said.

Fundraising plans for the film’s budget were underway, but then COVID-19 struck. So his wife, Casondra Arquiette-Winfrey, and several other people helped fund the film.

“We were able to raise about $ 5,000 to accomplish this. We started filming in April and literally didn’t finish until the day before New Year’s Eve. Luckily I just worked on it. So I made this movie and I’ve been ready to see it since January. I’m terrible at keeping secrets, so waiting for March 19th (and the film’s release) was agony, “said Winfrey.

In total, almost 25 people were involved in the film as part of the main cast, extras or behind the scenes.

“A big reason I wanted to budget for it is because I don’t think anyone should be working for anything. I know this sounds like a reasonable thing, but with independent films, people will often say, “Hey, you can be a character in my movie, but I won’t pay you anything,” he said.

Instead, they are told that they will be paid with their exposure in the film.

“When you’re hungry, the exposure doesn’t taste very good. So, in fact, we all paid a set talent fee and I hope people buy this film so that I can do something like this in the future with the next film I’m working on. I just really hope people support this movie on Friday because any money I get from it will literally go into the next movie I’m working on and it will go to recruiting locals, ”said Winfrey.

He attributed the film’s persistence to the film crew despite the pandemic.

“When COVID started, I was afraid that they would say, ‘Hey, let’s wait for this. I no longer want to do what I fully understood. Instead they said, “Elijah, we want to do this. It may be difficult, but we want to do that ‘and they pointed it out for me. That’s why I owe them the work they did and I appreciate them so much for everything they put into this film to bring my vision to life, “he said.

The main actors are Mr. Burnett from Massena as Billy Badass, Cody Dennis from Norfolk as Axle, Mr. Winfey as Johnny Love, Justus Cross from Massena as the deacon, RW Martin from Vermont as Gideon Chase, Vienna Ainsworth from Plattsburgh as Anastasia Rose. Dean Gleason Sr. from Lisbon as Father Fountaine, Jennifer Wiggins from Ogdensburg as Miranda, Jim Moscatello from Lake Placid as Marcel and Stevie Lynn from Norfolk as Stephanie.

Extras include Kaleigh Moody from Lowville, James Quant from Norfolk, Kristian Fino from Massena, Tyler Mucci from Binghamton and Stephen Dennis from Massena.

The crew consisted of Dennis from Norfolk, Travis Shatraw from Winthrop, Chris Griffin from Moira, Jay Mooers from Massachusetts, Robby Eccleshall from Canada and Brian Wolf from Cleveland. Local music is also played – Ronnie Vegas from Canton sings “Regrets” as the final credits song and Noah McCarthy from Massena’s song “Movement” is used in a central scene.

The Billy Badass logo was made by Jason Hendricks of H3 Designs and the poster was designed by Jay Mooers, the film’s art director.

“The Ballad of Billy Badass” will be released digitally on Friday at 7:00 p.m. for $ 7.99.

“What that $ 7.99 brings in is the film, which is two hours and five minutes long. They’re going to get a blooper role which is a lot of fun, and they’re also going to get a behind the scenes feature showing the building in Norfolk and all the different rooms we were filming in so people can see how it all is was together, ”said Mr. Winfrey.

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