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Film starring Lexington actor screening in Louisville Saturday

A woman, a man and a young boy look off camera. They're outside with a beautiful rolling landscape behind them.
Courtesy of Dani Menkin
/
Hey Jude Productions
Writer-director Dani Menkin says Grant Stevens audition made him the clear choice to be one of the "Little Towns" stars.

“Little Town” stars 9-year-old, Lexington-based actor Grant Stevens. Stevens is attending the film’s first screening in Kentucky at Baxter Avenue Theater Saturday.

Grant Stevens was only six when auditioned for a starring role in the film “Little Town”.

It follows a father and son duo on a road trip to find the son’s mother in a town the father made up. The mother, however, has died, and the film reflects on loss and grief through a comedic lens.

Stevens, who is from Lexington, had been in commercials and TV shows but “Little Town” was his first movie.

“It was a big leap for me,” Stevens said. “I didn't think I was gonna get it.”

For writer-director Dani Menkin, Stevens was the clear choice for the role.

“There was some magic in Grant in his audition, not only when he read the text, but also something about the way he was thinking,” Menkin said.

Menkin said Stevens’ ability to convey emotions without lines was a key part of the role.

“It was always a matter of marrying the music and Grant’s acting, thinking, and that's what created the magic,” Menkin said.

Menkin highlighted a particular scene where Stevens and Jason Paul Field, who plays the father, go up on to a mountain and just scream.

For Menkin, the film shows a healing process both adults and children can understand.

“The movies that I'm working on — writing, directing, producing — are the films that I wanted to see,” Menkin said. “And many of them are films that you know, I can enjoy with my kids.”

Similar to Menkin, Stevens is excited about the Louisville screening as an opportunity to enjoy the film with his family.

“It's exciting cause my family and family members could come see how hard I've worked with Dani. It honestly feels, um, I can't really describe it in words,” Stevens said.

He said it will be special to watch it with his grandparents, parents and sister, Emily, seeing “Little Town.”

Stevens enjoys seeing people's reactions to the film in person.

“I feel nice because I put a lot of effort and I'm making the movie with Dani and when I see like, smiles on people like that just reminds me of how hard I worked on this movie,” Stevens said.

Creating movies that bring joy into people’s lives is part of Menkin’s goal as a filmmaker.

“For me, to see people laughing, crying, and maybe getting some sense of feeling from everything that they hear in the news, and just living in this 90 minutes of bubble for me is the best thing on earth,” Menkin said.

“Little Town” will be screened at Baxter Avenue Theather Filmworks June 17 at 6:30 p.m. followed by a screening of another one of Menkin’s films “Aulcie” at 8:30 p.m.

Both Stevens and Menkin will be present at the screenings to talk and answer questions about the movie.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.