“SILO” is the first-ever feature film about a grain entrapment, and its producers are the first in the film industry to bring independent film directly to agricultural audiences. After five years of working on the award-winning film, producer Sam Goldberg asked an important question: “If farmers’ products can get from the plains of the midwest to coastal American cities and beyond, why can’t the inverse be true?”
The Making of ‘Silo’
The film’s roots are unique. It began as a short documentary filmed on a farm in Rising Sun, Indiana. When offered payment for their time and their land, The Fox Family, a multigenerational farming family, refused, showing a generosity rarely encountered in the entertainment industry. The film went on to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in Lower Manhattan. The success of the short documentary was confirmation – this story needed to be told. But it needed to be told to a larger audience, to and for the people it was about. The generosity of the Fox Family had made a lasting impression, and the “SILO” producing team was confident in taking a risk on a full, feature-length script.
Written by North Carolina-native Jason Williamson, “SILO” turned into a feature film as a fictional story based on true grain-related incidents. The film follows a harrowing day in an American farm town. Disaster strikes when 18-year-old Cody Rose (Jack DiFalco) is caught in a 50-foot-tall grain bin. When grain turns to quicksand, family, neighbors and first responders must put aside their differences to rescue Cody from drowning in the crop that has sustained their community for generations.
“SILO” was filmed on another family farm, Affinity Farms in New Haven, Kentucky. Further generosity was shown by the people at Sukup Manufacturing Co., who even took part in the construction of the grain bin sets that made filming the accident scenes possible. Dale Dobson, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Home Safety Program’s administrator, served as an advisor, and is now a “SILO” advocate, even bringing “SILO” to his local FFA in Hodgenville, Kentucky, as well as the Kentucky School for the Deaf. The Grain Handling Safety Coalition, a nonprofit and thought leader in grain safety, also took on the role of advisor.
Multiple industries came together to make “SILO.” The film about community was made by community, so how would it be distributed?
The ‘Silo’ Community
There’s a growing theme in agriculture: more machines, fewer humans. The same is true for film. Years of hard work go into making these stories, yet audiences normally consume them while binge-watching Amazon, Netflix, etc. alone on a living room couch. That’s not how “SILO” was made, and that’s not what it’s about. So the best, most authentic way to distribute “SILO” was through a Community Screening Campaign.
“SILO” premiered in August 2019 at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois. The “SILO” team flew from New York and Los Angeles to show the film for the first time and meet audience members much like the characters in the film and the people who helped make it. From the premiere, screening requests began to come in, and the SILO Community Screening Campaign was officially launched.
Since then, the film has screened across the United States in Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio and Texas, with more screenings to come in North Dakota, South Dakota, North Carolina, Arizona and Vermont. Partnerships with farm bureaus, agricultural companies, nonprofits and insurance agencies have made “SILO” and its message about farm safety available to thousands of rural audiences and several FFA chapters. “SILO” has become a movement, representative of farm safety, mental health and stress management with a focus on the fortification of community.
In January 2020, “SILO” was screened to over 2,000 audience members at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Convention in Austin, Texas.
“‘SILO’ lays bare the many, very real stresses of life on the farm, especially the physical dangers. It places equal emphasis on how rural communities come together when a neighbor is in need,” says John Hawkins, Managing Director of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“SILO” will continue to screen at conferences, farm shows and major events in addition to community screenings through the SILO Community Screening Campaign. The goal to screen in all 50 states is in sight thanks to “SILO” community hosts, sponsors and nonprofit partnerships. For more information on how to bring the film to your community, please visit silothefilm.com/screenings.
“SILO” is produced by Samuel Goldberg and Ilan Ulmer and is directed by Marshall Burnette. The script was written by Jason Williamson and stars Jack DiFalco, Jeremy Holm, Jill Paice, Jim Parrack, Chris Ellis and Danny Ramirez.