The Middleton community is officially asking director Ron Howard to film his upcoming movie version of the book “Hilbilly Elegy” in and around the city.
The Middletown Visitors Bureau has sent the Academy Award-winning director a video touting Middletown.
Jeff Payne, Downtown Middletown Inc. executive director, said that the idea to do this impromptu video came from Mary Huttlinger, Middletown Visitors Bureau executive director. He said the entire video was filmed during the monthly First Friday event in downtown Middletown. The video can be seen here.
The video features local business owners such as Ami Vitori reminding Howard of how much he likes small towns, to Heather Gibson, owner of the Triple Moon Coffee Company, where Howard has been spotted several times getting a latte or his favorite sandwich, the Bad Hunter, to Mayor Larry Mulligan saying how much he’d like to declare a “Make it Middletown Ron” day.
Howard is directing the film adaptation of “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” that was written by J.D. Vance about growing up in Middletown and in Jackson, Ky. The memoir was a best-seller released in 2016.
For the past several months, Howard has been visiting Middletown as part of his preparations to direct and produce the $45 million Netflix movie. Last month, Howard stopped by Triple Moon and donned a hat and posed for photos with a couple of employees.
“A lot of people found out and put the word out and the buzz was incredible,” Payne said. “It was all hands on deck for about 48 hours.”
Payne said the effort “demonstrates how the community can come together and do something positive. It was done quick, fast and in a hurry.”
He said he hopes the Howard sees Middletown’s enthusiasm and produces a significant amount of the movie in the city.
“This is something that’s good for Middletown,” he said.
Huttlinger said she can’t take full credit for the idea came about when she and Susie Hatton were kicking around some ideas recently. They determined that “they should go big or go home to let Ron Howard know how important this movie is to the city.”
Huttlinger solicited more than 20 short videos and compiled it into the two-minute video that is on the MVB Facebook page and on YouTube. She said the video was finished on Wednesday and posted online on Thursday.
However, this will not be the only video for #makeitmiddletownron, Huttlinger said. She is already soliciting more videos from the community and hopes to have a new one online for 20 days. Each of the new videos, like the first one, will have hashtag and MVB branding.
On the MVB Facebook account said the city is “so excited to see Hillbilly Elegy air on Netflix! It’s not It’s not every day a movie is produced that takes place in our favorite Ohio city. We thought we’d pass an idea your way while you’re out scouting locations, so we pulled in some Middletonians to put together this video for you and your team.”
In the past few months, the Middletown Visitors Bureau has been busy promoting the city via a large media buy with its new branding, “Oh, It’s Middletown” campaign.