CENTRALIA, Pennsylvania’s Lost Town – the new feature documentary on the borough of Centralia, Pennsylvania – will be released May 5, 2017. In anticipation of the film, an official trailer has been posted on YouTube and can also be found at the top of this page. Joe Sapienza, a native of Philadelphia and camera assistant and assistant producer with NFL Films, is executive producer and director along with producer Allyson Kircher, an assistant at CESD Talent in New York who oversaw its lengthy progress.
Over a four-year period, they successfully completed a documentary that will tell Centralia’s fate through the perspective of Centralia’s former and current residents, the government’s own actions, and local news archives. Joe screened a private rough cut of the documentary twice in the fall of 2016 to former cast, crew, and residents of Centralia and Byrnesville. It received positive reviews with only minor cuts that will be removed from the film and with the addition of an extended introduction including author David DeKok and former resident Tom Dempsey before the opening credits roll.
The documentary will go through the final stages of post-production with Melina Smith, one of the camera operators on the film and colorist at Company 3 in New York. She will color the entire feature giving the film its final beauty. Corey Branigan who works for a production company that specializes in motion graphics – Konrad & Paul in New York – will apply motion effects to the vintage photos, the animations of the mines and tunnels that run beneath Centralia, and the street sign markers that tell the viewer exactly where a scene was shot.
Dominic Zappalla, a commercial freelance audio engineer in Philadelphia, will mix the entire feature with a music score and sound effects that were left out and not heard at the screenings. The music is essential and will add a complement to the narrative, correlating with the drama that unfolds during each scene. The music tracks were scored by John Avarese, a feature film composer and audio professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
The opening title segment features a rare acoustic version of, “Ain’t It The Life?” by singer songwriter Erik Peterson of Mischief Brew. Erik and his wife Denise hold a special place in their hearts for Centralia and reached out to Joe last spring. Joe asked Erik to record an acoustic version of “Ain’t It The Life?” and loved it so much that he put it in the opening track of the film. Sadly, Erik Peterson passed away in July of 2016 and Joe has dedicated the film in his honor along with another close friend who introduced him to Centralia back in 2005, Sue “Suzie Q” Berkheimer, a resident of New Columbia, Pennsylvania.
After the film’s release in May, it will be screened at local theaters throughout Pennsylvania including Pottsville, Tamaqua, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Williamsport, Blue Bell, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia, among others. Check local theater listings for release dates in Pennsylvania. The documentary will also be submitted to over a thousand film festivals worldwide through 2017 and 2018. In addition, Joe is considering distributors such as Amazon Video Direct and Netflix in 2018 for final distribution release.