Several current and former Daytonians played a role in the film “Dark Waters,” including (top left to right) Leah Byrd , Bruce Cromer, Jonathan McNeal, Hannah Beachler and Karri O'Reilly.
Photo: Submitted and staff
Photo: Submitted and staff

Raiders, Daytonians play a big role in acclaimed film getting Oscar buzz 

One of the most critically films of the year is crawling with Raiders. 

Jonathan McNeal, the manager of The Neon movie theater downtown, said  numerous Daytonians and Wright State University alumni played a part in “Dark Waters,” a film starring Mark RuffaloAnne HathawayTim Robbins and William Jackson Harper filmed partly in Cincinnati.

>> What Jonathan McNeal loves about Dayton

Actor Bruce Cromer  appears in Dark Waters. 
Photo: Staff Writer

Stand-outs include Bruce Cromer, a Wright State acting professor who plays an attorney in “Dark Waters.” 

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“This was his very first film,” McNeal said of the veteran of stage productions. “It is not just a couple of lines. It is a ‘part’ in the film.”

Wright State graduate Hannah Beachler, an Oscar winner for her work on “Black Panther,” was the film’s production designer. 

Beachler learned of her Oscar nomination during the filming of Black Waters. 

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Anne Hathaway stars in “Dark Waters.” Mary Cybulski/Focus Features/TNS
Photo: Los Angeles Times

Dayton resident Karri O'Reilly was the film’s production supervisor

for the warm weather unit. 

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According to O’Reilly and McNeal others from the Dayton area or the program now called the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures at Wright State University included Chance Madison, Mike Dittiacur,  Casey SheltonLaura DenningsScott Lipez, Scott BowersDenise Dal VeraSelena Burks-Rentschler Ryan Tudor, Russ Faust, Kasey Hosp, Leah Byrd and Sara Mackie.

>> PHOTOS: Mark Ruffalo movie ‘Dark Waters’ films in Hamilton

Dayton resident Karri O'Reilly is a noted production manager.  

McNeal was an extra in the movie.

He believes others from the Dayton area were involved as extras as well. 

>> RELATED: (Jan 10, 2018) Wright State grad’s show hitting the big screen  

The Focus Features film directed by Todd Haynes is set to open at the Neon, 130 E. Fifth St, on Thursday, Dec. 5. 

>> What to know about Mark Ruffalo movie ‘Dark Waters’ filmed in Hamilton

There will be a special screening at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. 

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“Dark Waters” tells the story of corporate environmental defense attorney Rob Bilott who risks his career and family to “uncover a dark secret hidden by one of the world’s largest corporations and to bring justice to a community dangerously exposed for decades to deadly chemicals,” the description says. 

Jay Hart (left) and Hannah Beachler, winners of Best Production Design for “Black Panther” pose in the press room during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on Feb. 24, 2019, in Hollywood. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo: Staff Writer

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McNeal says the praise the film has received is deserved.

“First of all, I love Todd Haynes. I love his aesthetic. His storytelling,” McNeal said. “It is also a film about corporations and their lack of concern about humanity and more (concern for) the bottom line. It is a film that is upsetting and motivating.”  

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