Film Shot in Youngstown Area Enters Pact for Global Sales

“The Housekeeper,” a film shot entirely in the Youngstown area and starring Denise Richards, has entered a deal with VMI Worldwide to handle its global sales.

It will likely be available to viewers on online services and in theaters later this year, according to Melanie Clarke-Penella, executive producer.

“We’re weighing offers now,” she said.

Originally titled “Among the Ashes,” the film is a dark thriller about a young housekeeper who accepts a position with a wealthy family and soon learns that someone may be hiding a deadly secret. Not knowing who to trust, she must solve the mystery while avoiding the consequences.

A trailer for the film was also released this week.,

Representatives of VMI Worldwide are currently at the European Film Market in Berlin, which opened this week, to shop the film to buyers. The market, which runs until Feb. 22, is an annual gathering where global movie deals are made.

Richards and Richard Gunn play the wealthy couple, and Illean Almaguer plays the housekeeper. Stuart Altman wrote and directed the film.

The cast also includes Barry Jay Minoff, Dawn Lafferty, John French and Skyler Taylor.

Clarke-Penella, who is the director of downtown events for the city of Youngstown, is excited about the quality of the film and the interest it has garnered.

The movie was shot in late 2021 at the home of Robert Joshua in the Forest Glen neighborhood of Boardman.

“Filming in Youngstown is a filmmaker’s playground,” Clarke-Penella said. “The rusty landscape and unique architecture is something Hollywood has never seen.”

An aerial shot, made by a drone operated by Dante DiRusso, at the end of the film goes over the city of Youngstown at night as it zooms in on a news reporter who is working on the story. “The city looks great,” Clarke-Penella said, adding she plans to make more movies in Youngstown.

Funding for “The Housekeeper” was raised entirely from private sources.

The producers of “The Housekeeper” are Brandon Villano, Paris Jones and Youngstown-area resident Cindy Castro DiRusso. Executive producers are Clarke-Penella, Barry Jay Minoff and Lauren Pannunzio. The film was made under the Youngstown Pictures and Paris Films banner.

Clarke-Penella and Paris Jones negotiated the deal with VMI Worldwide.

“The Housekeeper is a fast-paced thriller that keeps the audience on their toes while creating an unsettling ambiance, said Jessica Bennett, chief operating officer of VMI, in a news release. “The cast’s performances in this film are incredible, and we are thrilled to showcase this film to buyers at the market.”

In a news release, producer Jones added, “Coming onboard this project was an absolute blast. I have always been enamored by ’90s thrillers, so when I was pitched the concept of ‘The Housekeeper,’ a mix of all the ’90s elements I love with a dash of Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out,’ I just knew I had to jump on this ride.”

Recent movies handled by VMI Worldwide include “Darkness of Man,” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme; “Come Out Fighting,” with Kellan Lutz and Tyrese Gibson; and “Clean,” starring Adrien Brody.

Richards’ film credits include “Starship Troopers” (1997), “The World Is Not Enough” (1999), “Undercover Brother” (2002) and “Scary Movie” (2003).

Her TV credits include “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Vanity” and “Two and a Half Men.”

Richards was married to actor Charlie Sheen from 2002 to 2006; they have two children.

Gunn’s film credits include a co-starring role in “Clemency” (2019). Hit TV credits include “Dark Angel,” “CSI” and “The Mentalist.”

Pictured at top: Richard Gunn, Denise Richards and Illean Almaguer in a scene from “The Housekeeper.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.