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Matthew Yerby talks about writing and directing ‘The Dirty South’ film

Matthew Yerby talks about writing and directing the new action film “The Dirty South.”

Willa Holland and director Matthew Yerby
Willa Holland and director Matthew Yerby. Photo Credit: Cree Roark Gentry
Willa Holland and director Matthew Yerby. Photo Credit: Cree Roark Gentry

Matthew Yerby talks about writing and directing the new action film “The Dirty South.”

On his inspiration to write and direct “The Dirty South,” Yerby said, “I wanted to shed light on how families in the south do whatever it takes to protect the ones we love.”

“The characters were first inspired by two songs from the ’60s: ‘Runaround Sue’ is a girl that breaks every man’s heart. ‘The Wanderer’ is a guy that roams from town to town in his beloved car with two fists of iron,” he explained.

Working with the cast of actors

He spoke about working with actors Willa Holland, Shane West, and Dermot Mulroney as the leads in the movie. “It was such an incredible experience,” he admitted.

“Willa is such a powerful lead that cut right to the meat of each line of dialogue,” he said. “Shane brought the brooding, charismatic Dion that I had always envisioned for this character. He was tender in the moments that needed it, and was on his mark ready to go before places were even called. Such a professional in Shane West.”

“Dermot brought a massive presence as Jeb Roy. When he stepped on set, the entire cast and crew knew. He’s the kind of artist that makes every actor better in the scene,” he added.

Favorite part of the filmmaking process

On his favorite part of the filmmaking experience, Yerby revealed, “My favorite part was the cast and crew feeling welcomed into my small hometown. They immediately became family with the locals, and if we ever needed anything on set, whatever it may be, it was only one phone call away. Some of my close friends held a thanksgiving dinner for the crew.”

Working with Mike Manning

Yerby opened up about working with actor and executive producer Mike Manning on this project. “Mike is an incredible talent,” he said. “Mike was effortless in his work. Great attitude. He always had what’s best for the story at his forefront. Any director would be lucky to work with Mike.”

The digital age

On being a filmmaker in the digital age, now with streaming, technology and social media being so prevalent, he said, “It’s exciting. There’s so many platforms today for first time filmmakers to reach bigger audiences. Everyone is searching for new content.”

AI on the future of entertainment

He shared his thoughts on AI on the future of the business. “Honestly, I don’t know enough about it. I can say I just believe that the artists in this industry will always fight to protect this craft. Nothing compares to raw human emotion, and I believe audiences will continue to be moved by real human problems that we ourselves can relate to,” he acknowledged.


On his definition of the word success, Yerby said, “Success, to me, is always having a goal that surpasses my last triumph. If I always can get better day by day doing what I love, I consider that a successful life.”

Closing thoughts on ‘The Dirty South’

For viewers and fans, Yerby concluded about this film, “When the shit hits the fan in life, your family always has your back. That’s how it goes in the south at least.”

To learn more about Matthew Yerby, follow him on Instagram.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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